A Little Girl Engulfed by Darkness, Finds Christ


Purchase the Book Here: Cheerful Christianity  


"I was up all night trying to come up with a good joke to open with. And after an embarrassingly, long time of coming up with nothing good. I had to face the reality that I might just not be very funny. And that's okay. It's important to know your limits.

So I'm not going to try and be funny.

I'm just gonna talk about some things that I love; and I don't think I love anything more than I love Jesus. So I wrote a book about him. Before I begin, I just want to say thank you for being here, and for your love and support for me and for this book. It's amazing and very humbling. And I am so grateful.

I am grateful to Julie, Valerie, all my friends at Cedar Fort and to all of you for being here, because I wouldn't be here without you at all.

Little background on me and about "Cheerful Christianity": I'm Olivia; I am a college student; I am an aspiring writer; I'm a fierce defender of Jesus-- I talk about Him a lot. But I wasn't always a defender of Jesus. When I was 11, my health got really bad--really. And we didn't know why. The doctors didn't know why everything I ate made me sick, including water.

So it wasn't a very fun time. And over the course of the next 10 to 11 years, I spent a lot of time praying and doing research and begging for answers. From any place, doctors, God, anyone who could give me an answer. Those answers didn't come for about 12 years. And it was a really hard and dark time for me, where I had to figure out what I believed.

I had grown up believing that we had a Savior who loved us and who knew everything that we were going through, and suddenly I was in a situation where I felt horrible all the time and I didn't feel like that Savior, if he were real, cared at all. And so it led to a lot of introspection and discovery on my part.

That's something that we all have to do at some point. We have to figure it out for ourselves. And for me, that started at age 11. So I wrote this book hoping that my story would maybe help influence someone else's story.

I just want to read something really quick from the book because Julie reminded me of this.

When we're talking about "Cheerful Christianity" it's an ironic title. So much of this book is about being in a really dark place and trying to figure out how to connect with God through it. And so this is what I said about that. Though, I am admittedly a positive person, a decade of debilitating pain was anything but cheerful.

That's why I picked this title. There's a misconception among religious communities that faithful discipleship leads to constant joy. While being a disciple of Christ certainly does bring happiness and light into your life. The absence of those blessings does not mean you're a bad disciple.

I am a cheerful christian, but not because life is easy or because I feel the constant guidance of my savior. Instead I am cheerful because with Christ I am enough. So maybe "Cheerful Christianity" doesn't refer to being happy or positive all the time. Maybe "Cheerful Christianity" refers to finally feeling.

And that is what the gist of this book is. It's about how to feel whole with the Savior. Because I don't think I've ever had a moment in my life where I have felt whole without the Savior. The only times I felt like me and like I'm enough have been when I've had the Savior in my life. So that's a little bit about me and a little bit about the book.

And now I will go back to my notes and stop rambling. "Cheerful Christianity" has been a labor of love, but it has also been a labor of frustration and embarrassment and at a lot of times, self doubt. And I think that's pretty common and maybe even something that I should have expected because whenever we make efforts to put something good into the world, we will always be met with resistance.

Now I'm an English major and I know very little about math and physics, but I'm going to talk to you about physics. So here's what I do now: when an object falls or it moves through the air, it encounters resistance from the air.

The faster an object is moving, the greater, the resistance it will face. Momentum creates resistance. In general conference last month, Elder Uchtdorf talked about airplanes and he talked about this resistance and this momentum. And he said that an airplane needs both resistance and forward momentum in order to fly.

It's the balance of these two things that helps us reach our destination resistance and forward momentum are necessary to get where we want to go and to ultimately become the kind of people that we want to be. When I was writing "Cheerful Christianity" I started feeling some of that resistance and for some reason that really annoyed me because I never set out to write.

My health issues and my struggle to have a relationship with the Savior. I never wanted to publicly write about that. The reason that I did was because I felt like it was something that the Lord had asked me to do. And because the Lord asked me to do it, I foolishly thought that it would be easy because He wanted it done, but it was not easy.

It was anything but easy. And although many challenges came from it--and there was many months of trying not to be insecure and embarrassed about the things I had gone through and nervous about the idea of sharing those things with the world--This whole process has been worth it. And not just because now I get to give the book and see it in your hands, but it's been worth it because I learned three very important lessons about the Lord.

That's really what I want to share with you today. Because there's nothing singularly unique or impressive about me writing this book. And what I mean by that is all of us here have a story and all of us here are capable of using our own stories to further the Lord's work and to further his kingdom; there is nothing particularly special about what I went through or about me writing a book.

And if you want to be doing something like this, you can. And so I want to share three things that I learned through this process. One, the Lord loves volunteering. We spend so much of our lives searching for a purpose. We want to be useful. We want to feel like we're contributing to the world around us.

And that's certainly what I was hoping for when I went to the temple a few years ago on a very cold February night. And I sat in the celestial room and prayed and asked for direction. I felt like I had lost my momentum. I had lost any vision of where I was supposed to be going in my life and I just wanted to feel useful.

And so I asked the Lord to give me something to do--anything to do--and I would do it, because I wanted to be an instrument. And he told me to write a book--this book--and that's not really what I expected him to say, or, I think what I wanted him to say, I was hoping he would say, get married or go on a mission or maybe move to Salt Lake City and become the personal assistant to President Russell M. Nelson; I'm still waiting on that one.

But instead, he asked me to just step outside of my comfort zone and to share my testimony in a different way. And so I did. I started writing and every time it got hard and every time I got frustrated and I wanted to stop--and there were times that I did stop and I just put it down for like weeks at a time--I had to remind myself that I asked for this, I asked to be put to. I asked to be useful and to do something for the Lord. So the first thing that I want you to remember is that if you volunteer, the Lord will put you to work. So don't be surprised when you do have to work and not work as hard. Number two, the Lord is not against you when our momentum picks up and therefore the resistance against us picks up.

It is so tempting. To blame God. But just because we can expect trials to come does not mean that God sends us those trials. I'm standing in front of you promoting a book that I wrote about Jesus and coming to know Jesus through my health issues. But I don't believe for a second that the Lord gave me those health issues just so I could write a book.

I don't think the Lord gave me health issues at all. I think that instead, God knew that this was something I was going to be facing. And instead of taking it away and making my life perfect and being a magician, he let me go through it. And he gave me a love of writing that I could practice developing some talents.

He gave me courage to use my voice and to share my story. He didn't make me. Instead, he gave me tools to overcome and he gave me the knowledge that I could use this resistance to further my own growth and that I didn't have to let it set me back. So as you embark on the Lord's errand, have faith in his commitment to you.

God doesn't lie. So if he says he has a work for you to do, he does, if he says that he will be with. He will, even when it doesn't feel like he is when the world is against you just remember that God is not of the world, he is greater than the world. So it's okay that the world's against you.

Number three, this is my final point. And then we will get to refreshments. The Lord needs you. Some of the resistance that you may feel as you are embarking on a journey to be a useful disciple to the Lord. Some of that resistance will come from yourself from your own head. I had a lot of resistance come from my own brain and honestly, I still do.

I fight with that pretty much daily. When I started writing cheerful Christianity, I faced a lot of those thoughts. I wondered what made me qualify as a young, 20 year old to write about Jesus, what makes me qualified? I don't even know, like all the stories in the Bible. In what ways was my voice significant and surely there was someone more qualified or better suited for the.

Now I let those thoughts, spiral and spiral in my head to the point where I couldn't work on this manuscript. I couldn't get myself to do it. And after a few weeks of just being paralyzed the spirit spoke to me and I wrote down the words that came into my head. It was funny to me and also just so powerful.

And I've read these words so many times since the spirit said to me, what do 18 year old men and 19 year old women have to offer when they choose to serve missions? What makes their voices significant? Of course, there are people better suited for the task ahead, but I have a work for them to do.

And as for your own qualifications on teaching such a. Just what makes you think that you'll be doing the teaching? I was sufficiently humbled by that the Lord needs each of us. And I think in the coming days, he's going to need each of us more. He needs us to go to bat for him, to defend him, to teach of him and to love people the way that he would love.

If you were here on the earth as disciples of Christ, it is our responsibility, but also our privilege to act as he would have. And one of the best decisions that I have made is choosing to share my story because God thought that was important. And I'm so grateful that I chose to believe him. I love the Lord and I love this gospel and I love you guys.

And I'm so excited to talk with you after this. And I'm so grateful that you're here. Thank you. I say this in the name of Jesus.