At the age of 6, I remember being in a large school with thousands of children. I was sometimes bullied. I also remember being the oldest of several small children — already feeling the weight of the world. I had a close cousin who had a big brother, and oh, how I wanted a big brother — someone to protect me from bullies, someone to help me when school was hard and someone else to worry about my little brother and sister!
It was at this same time that, in the basement of an old church, a whited-haired, wrinkled but kind teacher taught me a great truth. We were studying the Bible. She told me that I had a big brother. I was so excited! The Savior of the world, the baby born in a manger to Mary and Joseph, Jesus Christ was my elder brother. He could walk with me every day, He could look after my baby brother and He could help me with bullies. That was the day I began to develop a personal relationship with the Savior, one 5-year-old step at a time.
How can you develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ this season?
Read, ponder and pray. Study the scriptures and other great works by religious scholars. Learn who He is. Remember that we are His family. Here are scriptures to help get you started. Pray over them and ponder them as you go about your day and consider your relationship with the Savior.
While the Savior was on earth, he performed many miracles. If He can perform these miracles, can't he take care of your needs? Christianity.com offers a list of the miracles Jesus performed. Read over them and see if any of those situations are similar to challenges you face in your life. Ponder, pray and ask His help for your challenges.
Another way to develop a personal relationship with your Savior is to learn what He would like you to do, and then do it. He lived a life of example and gave us commandments. He said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." He has asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He taught us not just to love Him but to love everyone as He did. He even loved the tax collectors. Let's be honest. Do you take a plate of cookies to the IRS each Christmas?
Loving difficult people may require divine assistance. Pray for those you are having a hard time loving, and ask the Savior for His assistance. We all have difficult people in our lives — ex-spouses, unkind bosses, abusers or bullies. The Savior loves them. They are all children of God, just like you. The Savior heals and helps all — not just the people we like. Scriptures like these can help you as you try to love those who are difficult to love.
The good news is, if our Savior loves everyone, He loves us — even when we are less than perfect or make serious mistakes. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins to save us from our imperfections. He came to save all of us.
Follow His example. To truly get to know and develop a relationship with the Savior, we must follow His example and try to live as He lived. His entire life was devoted to service. This season, perform one act of service in secret, telling no one but your Savior. Let your hands do His work.
Now, I am the old lady teaching in the church. If I could go back in time and teach myself, I would say, "We have a Savior — a brother, a protector. He walks with us every day. We are never, ever alone. He cares about us and will make sure we have what we need. We need never be afraid."
Have faith and know that there is a plan for all of us. Read, ponder and pray. Spend time each day with your Savior. Give him your worries. Let Him care for your family. You are loved.
Shannon Symonds, Author of Safe House due to be released July 2017 by Cedar Fort, has 15 years experience working as an Advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence while raising 6 children in Seaside Oregon. She loves to write, run and Laugh