Learning to look and listen for God

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Leer en español: El aprender a buscar y escuchar a Dios

Throughout her life, Kathryn Bjorling has felt isolated in her faith. During these time, she has had to learn to look for God’s presence in her life and listen for His voice as He gently guides her life. (Karmen Kodia)

PALMYRA, N.Y. — Kathryn Bjorling grew up in the small city of Canandaigua in upstate New York. Although she grew up just a few miles from the birthplace of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she has often felt isolated in her faith. There were few members of her Church that she went to high school with and interacted with on a daily basis.

“It’s just hard when you can’t find someone that’s quite doing the same thing that you are born and raised to do,” Kathryn said. “I didn’t have friends that believed the same stuff as me. It was really hard to find someone to confide in. In those years, I definitely looked unto the Lord.”

While Kathryn has constantly felt God’s presence throughout her life, she acknowledges that many of her peers aren’t sure if there is even a God. But she is confident He can be found.

“When you really search Him out, you can find Him in your life, and you can find His influence,” Kathryn said. “You can learn of His nature, but only if you’re looking for Him. If not, you’re not going to find Him.”

Kathryn has seen time and time again that God isn’t trying to keep things from us. “When you really pray and are searching for an answer, you’ll find it,” she said. He is constantly looking for opportunities to give us more understanding.

Kathryn recently returned home from a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Peru, where she spent her days teaching people about God and the personal relationship they can have with Him.

She recounts teaching a man on her mission, who said he didn’t like her Church’s music because it was slower and softer than what he was used to. He liked the lively, loud and upbeat worship services that he knew and was familiar with.

To teach him about the importance of taking quiet moments to feel God’s presence in his life, Kathryn and her mission companion asked him to compare the different reactions he had when the soccer team he liked won a game to when his three daughters were born.

He excitedly and loudly explained that he would cheer and jump up and down when his favorite team won a soccer game. However, when Kathryn asked him about when he first held his daughters after they were born, his reaction was quite different.

“He got really quiet,” Kathryn said. “Tears came to his eyes. He just smiled and said, ‘So great, so happy.’ It’s very different when it comes to things that are spiritual. It brings you peace to your soul, and it just makes you yearn for more.”

While both a soccer game and the birth of his daughters brought him happiness, Kathryn helped him realized that there is a distinct difference between temporary happiness and lasting joy that comes from communing with God in quiet moments.

In her own life, Kathryn has had to learn to find and recognize God’s voice when looking for the answers that she has desperately wanted. As a teenager she needed to find out if everything she had been taught about religion was true. Now, as a young adult, she searches to know what she can contribute to this world and what her role is in God’s plan.

The answers to her most pressing questions have come when she has taken quiet moments to be still, pray and read the scriptures.

“Ask Him yourself – He wants to give you answers,” Kathryn said. “But He also wants to see that you really want it.”

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