Winning My War

By Trisha Swanson Dayton

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    I was losing a battle I didn’t even realize I was fighting. Then someone handed me my armor.

    During my junior year of high school, my life began to get off track. I went to church only to pacify my parents, not because I wanted to. Toward the end of the year, nothing was going right—not at school, not at work, and especially not at home.

    One day I went to my sister’s house. At that time her husband, Gerry, was in the bishopric. I began to tell them all the things that were going wrong in my life. After patiently listening, Gerry suggested I start reading the Book of Mormon 30 minutes a day. I had tried everything else, and nothing had worked, so I decided to give it a try. Gerry promised me if I truly tried to read for 30 minutes a day for a whole month, things would start to change for the better.

    I started reading that very night. I think it was the longest half hour of my life. The next day was just a day; nothing great or horrible happened.

    But change takes time. The next week was not an easy one. I missed the extra half hour of sleep, but I kept reading. Soon I started to notice that little things were working out better.

    Then I received one of the biggest blessings I had ever had, although I didn’t recognize it at first. I had the opportunity to go to Ireland to work for the summer. I was already two weeks into my month of reading when I left, so I decided to continue the Book of Mormon test in Ireland and read every day.

    My life began to change dramatically. I began to love the things I had detested. I looked forward to going to church at my little branch in Ireland. I gained a more positive outlook on life, and my testimony began to grow by leaps and bounds.

    One day I wrote in my journal: Today was the most wonderful day. I woke up and went to church at 10:30. Today was our branch conference. It was the most spiritual meeting I have ever attended! I don’t think I have ever felt the Spirit so strongly before. The people here in Galway are the friendliest, most generous, most righteous people I have ever met. They give me strength. They are so firmly rooted in the gospel; I learn so much just by their examples. I think today is the first time I have ever known or felt absolutely positive that the gospel is right and true.

    Reading the Book of Mormon was no longer a chore. It was something I began to look forward to every day.

    My time in Ireland was soon up, and I had to return home. I knew that facing my home life and my old friends was going to be a great challenge.

    When I got home, though, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My mom and I actually saw eye to eye on a lot of things, and I grew to love her with all my heart. As the wrinkles in my home life began to iron out, so did the situation with my friends. I stopped hanging out with some of my old friends and started associating with a different group of girls. This change was hard, but I had a lot of support. My life took a complete turn.

    Throughout this whole process, I had the scriptures and my sister to help me. My sister always knew when things were getting rough, and she wrote notes of encouragement. She gave me a compass to remind me of the changes I had made in my life and to encourage me to keep going in the right direction.

    A few months later, time became harder to find, and scripture study became shorter and shorter. I found that my compass had grown cloudy.

    My sister wrote me this note: You know, Trish, I feel that you are in a major war for your soul, and as much as I would like to be with you on the daily battlefront and as much as I talk about fighting for you, I realized last night that you are the only one who can win your war. You are the only one who can put on your armor every day by reading the Book of Mormon.

    Once again I turned to the scriptures, increasing my reading to 30 minutes a day. And again, things turned around.

    I know there is a battle raging each day for our souls. Satan wants to have us, but we have the tools to fight back. I know from experience that reading the Book of Mormon every day will keep us headed in the right direction. I know it helped me. I have a testimony of the power of the scriptures and all they can do for each of us. Take the challenge and find out for yourself.

    Win by Feasting

    Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches: “If we ‘press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, … [we] shall have eternal life’ [2 Ne. 31:20]. To feast means more than to taste. To feast means to savor. We savor the scriptures by studying them in a spirit of delightful discovery and faithful obedience. When we feast upon the words of Christ, they are embedded ‘in fleshy tables of the heart’ [2 Cor. 3:3]. They become an integral part of our nature” (“Living by Scriptural Guidance,” Liahona, January 2001, 21).

    Illustrated by Scott Welty; photographic support by John Luke

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    • Trisha Swanson Dayton is a member of the BYU 200th Ward, Brigham Young University 18th Stake.