Below is the transcript of my talk given on Dec. 27, 2020, adapted for reading with links and subheads.
What Voice Are You Listening to?
I’m so humbled and grateful to share my testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and how I hear Him.
I’ll begin with a story called, “The Tale of Two Wolves.”
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.”
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, doubt, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, shame, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, forgiveness, truth, compassion and faith.
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I love that story because it so accurately describes that battle—often one of the biggest battles we fight in our lives—that goes on inside each of us about which voice we’re going to listen to.
I’ve had experiences over the past year and a half that completely changed the direction and quality of my life as I’ve learned which voice to listen to.
My Food Journey
It started in August 2019. I was a couple months postpartum with my second baby. I was feeling good. Everything had gone well, I was in good spirits and feeling a lot of joy.
But I was also noticing some changes I wanted to make, some improvements to take better care of myself as much as I could.
I wanted to eat better and I was noticing every day that I would set this intention to not eat certain things anymore and eat only things that are good for me, I couldn’t make it through an entire day before I would give in to the things that I said I wouldn’t have.
To be honest, I think I’m the original Cookie Monster. ?
It started to affect me because it wasn’t just this time. I had struggled with this voice in my head a lot of my life that told me that the answer was through food—that I needed to control it and I needed to change it, and that was how I was going to become what I was supposed to be.
It had gotten to this point where I recognized I had accomplished so many things and I was capable of doing so many great things in other areas of my life but I could not control this.
The more I tried, the harder it got. It was almost easier not to set those intentions because I knew I was just going to fail the next day. Something would always happen to throw me off.
Whether it was the stress of motherhood or a disagreement with someone or an unmet expectation of myself—I felt like my moods would take over and my whole day would be shot.
Ironically, in those moments, the same voice that would tell me “it’s not that big of a deal, just go ahead and eat that thing,” was the same voice telling me afterward, “I can’t believe you ate that, you’re never going to overcome this.”
There were just these very specific foods that had this terrible consequence for me and brought this negative voice out in my head.
In the meantime, I was lead to a friend who had come into my life a few years before and she had struggled with those same things and shared them with me.
She helped me find the help that I needed to put a boundary on the foods that I couldn’t seem to stop turning to. I was seeking lasting joy or comfort or whatever it was from things that don’t provide it.
Setting those boundaries was really really hard; these habits had been accumulating over several years.
It’s Not About the Food, Let me Teach You
A month or so into these new habits and keeping those commitments to myself, I hit what I call “dig-up-in-doubt mode.”
This is that moment when you’ve planted something in faith and you’re starting to notice the benefit of it. You feel better, and it really was the thing that you needed to do, but you start to dig it up in doubt, because suddenly that road seems so long and you don’t know if you want to do it forever.
But you can’t go back because what happened before is just not your best self.
I felt stuck. I couldn’t go backwards, but I was terrified to go forward. And frankly, sometimes I just didn’t feel like going forward.
In that moment, the Spirit spoke to me so clearly, probably one of the first times in my life where it’s been this clear with actual words that I could repeat and write down and remind myself when I needed it.
“It’s not about the food, let me teach you.”
I thought, “Okay, if it’s not about the food, what is it about?”
And I didn’t really know. I didn’t have that answer right away.
But it calmed me enough that I was able to take a deep breath, be still, and continue in patience and move forward.
As I did that, this same friend that the Lord used as an instrument in my life to lead me to the help I needed with my food, also encouraged me to read the Book of Mormon every day.
She had done it for years and she had such a testimony that the Prophet’s promise is true. That when we read the Book of Mormon every day, we will make better decisions every day.
And I really needed that help making these better decisions because I had these habits that were just pulling at me to do what I always had done, even though they never brought me lasting happiness.
And it wasn’t just in the morning or part of a specific time of day. It was whenever I anticipated that urge to go break that commitment to myself. Instead, I would read the Book of Mormon.
At first it was just a couple verses here or a chapter there, but it was so powerful that it was tied to my food because we have to eat and I had to make that choice several times a day—“Which voice are you going to listen to?”
Reading the Book of Mormon gave me so much more perspective and understanding about what this life really is about and who we are trying to become.
I started going to the temple as frequently as I could, multiple times a month. I found so much peace there.
I started being more intentional about what I was thinking about during the sacrament each week and I brought a journal to write down what I felt, who spoke in the meeting and what they said that really resonated with me so I could remember it better.
I noticed as I read the Book of Mormon how many times the Lord tells us to “remember.” I forget sometimes and I need to consistently do those things that help me remember.
Writing became a way that I remember His words.
The more that I turned to this knowledge and truth the more I feasted on it and hungered for it.
And suddenly these other habits and things I was so used to doing that were part of who I thought I was, started to dissipate. They lost their appeal. My desires were starting to change and I no longer felt deceived by my food.
My focus became the Savior.
He really did begin to teach me. It wasn’t all right away, but here a little and there a little.
He then inspired me to begin letting go of things that were no longer needful.
The first big thing was my career. I worked for an incredible company and it was hard to let go, not just because of the financial impact on our family, but because it was the very means that brought our children into our lives.
We struggled with infertility and it provided the insurance coverage that we needed.
It was scary to let that go because we thought, “What if we want more kids?”
But because of the growth I experienced between Aug – Nov 2019, I felt peace when making the decision to not return to work from maternity leave.
I had this new relationship with Christ and I was starting to understand His ways and how He works and that it is line upon line, choice by choice, day by day.
And I started to believe that I could overcome a lot of these things that I thought I couldn’t live without.
My career, for example, became such a part of my identity and I was afraid I wouldn’t seem important without it.
Even though I was trying to put good into the world through my platform, I was compromising doing my best work with my family—my most important, essential people to help, influence and serve.
I was in awe of how the Lord led me to replace old things with new things, but not in a way that I felt resentful.
It literally happened little by little so that I was ready to let go. He prepared me to make each of those decisions when it was time, and to do so in faith.
When April 2020 rolled around, President Russell M. Nelson spoke about how important it is for us to Hear Him (Jesus Christ).
That talk was so impactful for me because not only did he very clearly distinguish those voices, but his words were an additional confirming witness after the trial of my faith.
The adversary is clever. For millennia he has been making good look evil and evil look good. His messages tend to be loud, bold, and boastful.
However, messages from our Heavenly Father are strikingly different. He communicates simply, quietly, and with such stunning plainness that we cannot misunderstand Him.
It wasn’t just a spiritual witness that I had done the right things. It was a witness that it was the Savior guiding me through His Sprit the whole time.
Everything that President Nelson said in that talk I had been doing for the past eight months and I just knew it was the Lord.
The exact same voice that President Nelson spoke about was guiding me.
What is it About?
As I moved forward I continued to ask myself, “If it’s not about the food, what is it about?”
I’ve learned for me it’s about keeping myself in condition to hear Him. I could not hear Him when I was engaged in those habits and indulging those thoughts that led me to believe lies about who I am and what I’m capable of.
Or that I’ll never change or that it’s okay to wait (“I’ll just do it later, I’ll change later”).
But it isn’t just about hearing Him, it’s about staying in condition to serve Him. Because when I’m focused on doing things for myself, I usually don’t feel like doing what He’s telling me to do.
Often I’ve found that the Spirit communicates through my conscience.
It’s not that I wasn’t obeying the general commandments, these were personal commandments He was asking me to keep and I wasn’t keeping them.
I think what’s often the case is we don’t recognize that those voices aren’t our own.
I can think back to elementary school when that negative voice started and I thought that was just my opinion of myself, that I was talking badly to myself. And on a good day I would sometimes say positive things to myself.
I didn’t realize that that positive voice was the Spirit trying to encourage me and remind me of what truth is and who I really am and all the good I can do.
All the while this negative voice remains terrified of who I can become if I heed the calming, reassuring voice of the Spirit.
That’s why it’s constantly pulling me down, as frequently as possible, at every meal, if possible.
And I feel so blessed to see with so much truth now.
These habits and the effort that the Lord has encouraged me to put into these simple things has transformed my life.
It has changed my relationships.
It has changed what I think about on a given day, at any moment.
I think about Him more than I ever did with so much more intention and gratitude.
So I ask you the same question:
What is it About for You?
What are the things that are preventing you from hearing Him?
What are the things that you want to let go of but you’re afraid of who you are without them?
Let the Savior show you.
And when you mess up, because you will, use the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
It’s really hard when we learn and overcome these things and we feel like we’ve made so much progress only to realize we’re still not perfect.
And what a blessing, because perfect people don’t need a Savior.
The purpose of His infinite Atonement isn’t just to save us, but to transform us.
In President Nelson’s talk, “Hear Him,” he said:
What will happen as you intentionally hear, hearken and heed what the Savior has said and what He is saying now through His prophets? I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships and daily work. And I promise that your capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life.
I testify that these words are true.
I have seen this promise fulfilled in my life and have been led to additional sources of truth and good habits that I’ve wanted for myself and found that all I needed was the Savior to help me put off the natural man.
He can change our nature. He can educate our desires.
He can help us see our desires differently, more clearly, with truth, so that those things that we struggle with and want to give up don’t pull on us so hard or limit us so much.
He can free us from the bondage of self.
So much of where I was before was just a lot of ignorant self-consumption, stuck in fear and self-doubt, wanting to be something great (which is that seed He’s planted in all of us for Godhood) but I couldn’t figure out how to get there.
I testify that we get there through the Savior.
We don’t change habits by focusing on the habits. We change by focusing on the Savior and He takes care of the habits and desires.
I love Him so much. I’m so grateful for the Lord.
He is real. He is more real in my life than He’s ever been and it has given me a foundation of truth by which I view everything in my life.
It’s given me so much purpose and an ability to see who others really are because now I see who I really am.
I know hard things are going to continue to come in my life, but I know that He’s preparing me to face them with faith.
I testify that He wants that for all of us. He only wants good things for all of us.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.