When I was just a kid I remember watching a scratchy, dust-flecked voiced over film strip recreation of the beginnings of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. The narration was taken from a passage of Joseph Smith’s history of the answer he received when as a young boy he inquired of God through prayer which church he should join.
25 So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.
Even now, decades later, I cannot hear this verse without recalling the unmistakable and undeniable surety I felt of their truth when I heard them:
For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it.
That’s kind of how truth works. It sort of knocks you in the gut and takes your breath away for a minute. And the truer the words, the harder it hits.
When I was a bit older I decided it was time to read this book that Joseph Smith later translated, The Book of Mormon, and put the challenge of asking God myself to the test.
I don’t know what I expected, but what I got was simple but sure reminder, “you already know.”
And I did.
Sometimes that’s how truth works. It strikes a chord of your heartstrings and as it resonates down do deep you realize it moves you so because truth is eternal, and this is either a new truth, truth you knew before, or truth you already know but needed to feel again to be reminded.
Truth centers me and holds me fast when doubt and artifice seek to knock me off kilter.
I remember venturing into literary criticism as a young English major and reading of truth and beauty. To be honest, I didn’t much care for literary criticism. For me art and literature are personal. It’s so much more than what it means, but how it makes me feel and what truth it reveals to me. I find beauty in truth. I recognize both in my heart as something bigger than me, greater than this mortal existence, and timeless beyond the past, the present, and the future.
Once I know a thing, I cannot deny it.
[Day 53 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]