Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I love God.
And I know He loves me too.
I have known this since I was 14 years old, and I’ve never again doubted it. You can know of His infinite love for you, too! Just ask him… (with a sincere heart and real intent and he will respond.)
Knowing that God loves you, individually, is foundational in establishing a mentoring relationship and key to developing a testimony that can grow over a lifetime.
In the summer of 1992, I went to EFY (Especially for Youth at BYU) feeling distressed. I felt excited to be in an environment with other LDS youth and to bathe in spiritual things. I loved the gospel and I loved the Lord. Obedience had always come easily to me and I had an innate desire to please the Lord, to serve Him and to do what was right. I came to EFY, though, with a heavy heart and a mistaken feeling of being unworthy to pray. I felt like I had done things that would make me unworthy to pray and that there were grand barriers between me and God. I had fallen for Satan’s greatest tool against youth: Get them to feel like they shouldn’t pray. I couldn’t remember ever having a spiritual experience, so I falsely concluded that lack of spiritual experiences was conclusive evidence that I was unworthy, and that perhaps God was angry at me, unhappy with me or not aware of me at all.
At one of the first meetings, my EFY counselor, Heather, challenged us to pray for something specific that we wanted to ask God. She promised us that if we were diligent in our prayers that God would answer. I didn’t feel like praying, nor did I feel worthy of such a promise, yet the obedient nature inside of me compelled me to comply. I prayed with a fervor and a hope new to my 14-year-old self. Every time I could escape the company of my roommate, I would try to get in kneeling prayers to add devotion and focus to my effort. I prayed day and night, in my mind and formally. I was praying throughout the day for the first time in my young life. My specific prayer was one of attempting to repent of any sins I could think of and asking God to acknowledge and accept my effort, that I would know I was loved by Him and worthy of communication with such a supernal being. I got nothing. Felt nothing. Nothing at all.
The final night of EFY, my counselor Heather, gathered our group together into one dorm room to share with us the final “counselor devotional” before we were to all leave for home the next day. She arrived with a screen stand, projector, props for visual aides and cute handouts for us to enjoy. While she was doing her elaborate set up, she passed out paper, pens and envelopes, giving us the assignment to “write” a prayer letter to Heavenly Father. She suggested a free-style prayer and that we keep writing our thoughts to God the whole time she was setting up. I was put off in true teenager fashion. I thought to myself, “I have been praying all week to no avail. My prayers bounce back at me from the ceiling.” I was not interested in yet another long, one-sided conversation. I had been praying all week to know one thing: “DID GOD LOVE ME?” And if God wanted to answer me, by now He certainly knew my question. So feeling rejected and ignored by God, I simply wrote a single sentence and sealed up my letter into the envelope. I exchanged uncomfortable glances with Heather a few times as she continued to set up and I sat there, stubbornly not writing, while the other girls dutifully filled sheets of paper and requested more pages to write on. Eventually, Heather was ready to begin and she called for everyone’s attention.
I will never forget the moment, the words and the feeling that followed. Heather told us that she felt a specific prompting that she should change her message despite her elaborate preparations to cover another topic. She wanted to focus her entire counselor devotional instead on sharing with us the message of “How Much Heavenly Father Loves You.” I was overcome with the Spirit in that moment. Her inspired words were accompanied by a liberal waterfall of spiritual confirmation to me personally that indeed, God had answered my prayer and said to me, “I do love you, Karmel. I have heard and accepted your prayers, all of them!”
I cried as Heather continued for quite a while continuing to address her new spontaneous topic, elaborating on how much God loves us each individually. At the conclusion of her message, she came to me to inquire about my level of emotion. Even today I am still as I was then, unable to communicate very well when emotionally bursting. So I just handed her my sealed envelope, suggesting with my eyes that she open it. She open the letter and then she cried, too, as she read my single-sentence prayer, confirming the source of her prompting: “Dear Heavenly Father, If you love me, please let me know.” I had been introduced to the simple truth that when we ask a specific question, God will answer.
A sure knowledge of God’s love creates a desire to act, to consecrate one’s life to Him.