The past three episodes have been centered around the invitations President Nelson gave in preparation for April 2020 General Conference. Episode 87 is my personal story about how I came to know President Nelson is a prophet. Spoiler alert: My testimony didn’t come instantly and it took a lot of time and work.
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In today’s episode I am sharing my experiences of getting to the point where I could say, “I know President Nelson is a prophet of God.”
I did not feel an instant connection with President Nelson. I didn’t immediately jump on board the minute he was called as the prophet. Yes, I raised my hand to sustain him and that is what I tried to do with all my heart, but I also had to “wrestle” with the Lord like Enos in Enos 1:2 or Alma in Alma 8:10 describe in the Book of Mormon.
My testimony that Russell M. Nelson is a living prophet came slowly and “line upon line” as we read in Isaiah 28.
I had experienced seeing a prophet die and a new one be called several times in my life and had never struggled with knowing the new prophet was called of God.
In the episode you’ll hear the different experiences I had and the answers to prayers I received in gaining my testimony of President Nelson as the prophet.
If you wrestle with something spiritual, please know that other people do too. You may not see it in the little squares of Instagram or just by looking at them in the pew in front of you at church, but everyone struggles.
It’s OK to struggle, to question and even to wrestle with God. There is no harm in that. The harm comes when we give up and think we aren’t worthy or will never know for ourselves.
My hope in sharing my story is it will illustrate to you it’s not always a cut and dried process and if you keep trying, you really can know for yourself.
Thank you for listening. I hope you will feel through the Spirit the message God has for you at this time in your life.
President Nelson’s first press conference after becoming the prophet
President Nelson’s October 2018 talk, Sisters Participation in the Gathering of Israel
Hope of Israel Worldwide Devotional for Youth: Messages from President and Sister Nelson
President Nelson’s October 2019 talks, Spiritual Treasures and Closing Remarks
President Nelson’s biography by Sheri Dew, Insights from a Prophet’s Life
SMM 084: A Resource to Help You Learn How You Hear Jesus || Darla Trendler
SMM 085: Acting on the Prophet’s Invitations at a Hinge Point in Church History || Darla Trendler
SMM 086: Blessings of the Prophet’s Invitations || Listener Call-in Show
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Intro: You’re listening to the Spiritually Minded Mom Podcast. This is episode 87: Why It Took Me Two Years to Know President Nelson is a Prophet.
Darla: Hi, this is Darla Trendler and welcome to Spiritually Minded Mom. My goal is to help you gain confidence in your ability to hear and follow God’s voice in motherhood and in life. Listen to hear interviews with all kinds of moms who are learning to navigate motherhood by partnering with our heavenly parents.
Darla: Welcome to episode 87. I am so happy you are here. Today’s episode is another solo episode with me. I never intended to have so many solo episodes in a row, but I can tell you that God has a way of letting me know when that is what He wants me to do.
Darla: As a podcaster whose main format is guest interviews, I am constantly seeking for personal revelation about who I should invite to be a guest, then I spend time reaching out and scheduling and conducting interviews. Before the pandemic hit, I had been doing lots of interviews and had not been struggling to get people scheduled. Now, I have continued to reach out but have not been able to get a lot of interviews scheduled in the past month, which makes sense and is totally understandable, as this is such a crazy time.
Darla: After two years of podcasting, I have learned that lack of interviews is not a problem. I have even trained my brain to tell myself this very phrase when interviews seem to be evading me because the Lord always provides interviews or ideas for solo episodes for me.
Darla: When I receive personal revelation to reach out to someone to be a guest, I have learned to follow the prompting. Sometimes people I contact get right back to me and schedule. Sometimes it takes weeks and even months. Sometimes they never get back to me. I never worry. I know my job is to act on promptings and to invite. I let the Lord take care of the timing. I have seen over and over that when an interview happens and I air it, it is always the right time.
Darla: After I aired my listener call-in show last week, I realized I had nothing for this week and no interviews scheduled. As I mentioned before, when the interviews dry up, it always means I am being led to do a solo episode. I started to ponder what I could share but nothing came to me immediately.
Darla: With thoughts of a solo episode on my mind, on the Friday before general conference I was reading Doctrine & Covenants section 84 as part of my conference preparation. Verse 85 stuck out to me as if the Savior were speaking to me directly: “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”
Darla: I read that verse and knew it was exactly what I needed in that moment. I wrote these words in my journal: “I found this verse especially comforting today as I think about what my next podcast episode will be. I learn from this verse that if I ‘treasure up’ the things I’ve learned recently and will learn through conference this weekend, Father will give me what I need when I need it. Whether that means an interview or the words for a solo episode, it doesn’t matter. He will give me what I need when I need it.”
Darla: I went into conference weekend with this scripture on my mind. I felt a lot of personal revelation through conference about many things, but I didn’t feel anything specific about what my next episode should be.
Darla: Monday, I felt like I was in a funk. For months before conference I had a personal study plan to help me prepare for conference. I used that plan day in and day out. On Monday, I had completed that plan and participated in conference and had an amazing experience. But I still felt a little lost ,and like I didn’t know what I was supposed to do now with all of the things I learned and felt over the weekend. Add in the fact that I have nowhere to go because of a pandemic and my day wasn’t going great.
Darla: By the afternoon, I finally put my workout clothes on and got a good workout in and then I looked at the text I had received that morning from the church for Holy Week. The text talked about how Christ commanded the moneychangers to leave the temple because they were distracting others from the true purpose of the temple. In these Holy Week texts, you have the option to text the word “More” to get ideas for things to do that day to #HearHim. I texted “More” and read this: “Set aside 10 minutes today to meditate or listen to inspiring music.”
Darla: I meditate regularly, so I decided to do that. As I meditated, the thoughts came to me very clearly about what a solo episode this week should be about. I had “treasured up” the things I had learned through study over the past few months and then through a spirit-filled conference weekend.
Darla: So that brings me to what I felt prompted to share today for this episode. Today, I am sharing my journey of coming to know that President Russell M. Nelson is a prophet.
Darla: I did not feel an instant connection with President Nelson. I didn’t immediately jump on board the minute he was called as the prophet. Yes, I raised my hand to sustain him and that is what I tried to do with all my heart, but I also had to “wrestle” with the Lord like Enos in Enos 1:2 or Alma in Alma 8:10 describe in the Book of Mormon. My testimony that Russell M. Nelson is a living prophet came slowly and “line upon line” as we read in Isaiah 28.
Darla: I had experienced seeing a prophet die and a new one be called several times in my life and had never struggled with knowing the new prophet was called of God.
Darla: As a young adult, I received a mission call signed by President Ezra Taft Benson. Two days before I entered the Missionary Training Center, President Benson passed away. I watched his funeral in the MTC and three weeks later on the night before I left the MTC to go to the mission field, I had the remarkable experience of seeing and hearing the new prophet, President Howard W. Hunter as he came to give a talk to all of the missionaries in the Provo MTC. I was thrilled to start my mission in such a profound way. I never struggled to testify to others that President Hunter was a prophet of God. I had felt the Spirit testify this to me and it was easy to tell others.
Darla: Exactly halfway through my mission, my companion and I were at home having lunch one day when one of our investigators called to tell us our prophet had died. President Hunter had only been the prophet for 9 months, but I had grown to love him so much, probably because I was telling people every day that we had a living prophet on the earth.
Darla: I had grown up seeing President Gordon B. Hinckley in the first presidency and there were no questions for me when he became the prophet. I remember sitting in a small chapel with just me and my companion watching President Hinckley read the new Family Proclamation during a women’s broadcast in 1995, just a few months after he became the prophet. I knew he was a prophet of God then and continued to feel it throughout his life.
Darla: I don’t remember all of the thoughts and feelings I had when President Thomas S. Monson was called as the prophet but I do remember showing our four little kids his picture after he was called and testifying to them that he was the prophet God had called for our day.
Darla: My history with new prophets was that I didn’t struggle to sustain them. So why was I having a struggle with President Nelson? My impressions of him at his first news conference with the First Presidency and the entire Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left me with the feeling that he wasn’t very polished in front of the media. His prepared remarks were great, but I wasn’t as sure about his off the cuff interactions with the media.
Darla: I had a difficult time when President Nelson asked that we stop using the word “Mormon” and get back to using the proper name of the church. Of course, I knew that I belonged to Christ’s church. It made total sense to me that we call the church by its proper name. I had always tried to emphasize that fact to anyone I shared the Gospel with. But I wondered what his words meant for past prophets and leaders who had encouraged me to fill out a profile for the “I’m a Mormon” campaign or invite my friends to see the movie “Meet the Mormons” and other things that involved calling ourselves, “Mormons.” Had those prophets been wrong?
Darla: That is the question that came up for me over and over. I spent a lot of time on my knees struggling to know what this all meant. I plead in my prayers to understand and to know that President Nelson was a prophet.
Darla: As part of my pleading, I also continued to try to follow his counsel. When President Nelson asked youth at a worldwide devotional in June 2018 to take a one week fast from social media. I did it too, even though I didn’t really watch the devotional at that time.
Darla: I started to see a slight shift in my feelings in October 2018. I was talking to someone shortly after conference about President Nelson’s talk in the women’s session of conference called Sisters Participation in the Gathering of Israel. The person I was talking to said they hadn’t loved President Nelson’s message. I realized that his message had resonated with me more than any other I had ever heard him give. I had felt his message was inspired and expressed to this person how much I had loved what he shared.
Darla: I jumped in with both feet to fulfill the four invitations he gave that day to conduct a 10-day social media fast and notice the impressions I receive, read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, establish a pattern of regular temple attendance, and participate fully in Relief Society.
Darla: I started acting on his invitations and I started to feel another shift in my thoughts about him being a prophet of God. I didn’t have total confirmation, as you will see, but I was making progress.
Darla: In January 2019, I was asked to be in charge of helping a group of youth plan a stake standards night. I was new to my calling and only had three weeks to get the event all put together. I wanted the youth to come up with their own ideas but with the time crunch also felt I needed to give them some guidance and a starting point. I felt prompted to help them focus on President Nelson’s call from the worldwide youth devotional in June 2018 to help gather Israel. As I poured over his words and listened to the devotional several times in my preparation to help the youth, I started to see and feel his prophetic call.
Darla: With this experience fresh in my mind, in February 2019, President Nelson and other leaders came to Arizona where I live. We had the opportunity to gather in a huge NFL stadium with 70,000 other Arizona Latter-day Saints. I am sure you are probably thinking that this was where I finally had the confirmation from the Spirit that Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God. But you would be wrong in that assumption.
Darla: I had high hopes for this gathering. I wanted the confirmation that He was a prophet but this was not where it happened. I enjoyed the conference but I had set high expectations that I wanted this to feel more personal and my expectations were not met. The hours it took to get out of the stadium, back to our car and drive across the valley in bumper to bumper traffic didn’t help either. I am sure others had the opposite experience from me. Maybe my heart wasn’t ready or my expectations were too high because of the months of pleading prayers, but for whatever reason, this experience did not solidify my testimony that President Nelson was a prophet.
Darla: I continued to pray and “wrestle” to know that President Nelson was a prophet and I started to see small answers to my prayers like the ones I felt studying the words from the youth face to face event to help the youth in my stake plan standards night.
Darla: In October 2019, President Nelson announced in conference that the April 2020 general conference would be different as we would be commemorating the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. He issued invitations to study the first vision and to ponder questions about how my life would be different without the Book of Mormon. He also invited us to design our own plan.
Darla: At the time he said all of this, I thought it was great and I had every intention of acting on the invitations, but honestly, I didn’t do much about it until January of 2020.
Darla: On New Year’s Day, I was talking to our daughter who is currently serving a mission. I asked her what she had done the night before on New Year’s Eve. She said she and her companion had been instructed to be in their apartment early and she had spent that time coming up with a plan to prepare for the April 2020 general conference and to act on President Nelson’s invitations. She was so excited about her plans and told me all about them. Then I will never forget what she said to me next, “Mom, do you have your plan? You’ve got to have a plan. You don’t want to miss out on this.”
Darla: Her words were powerful to me. Through her, the Spirit was telling me that I needed to act. Looking back, I can see how the Lord was beginning to answer two years worth of prayer, wrestling and struggling back and forth to know if Russell M. Nelson was a prophet.
Darla: In the first few weeks of the new year in 2020, I set up my plan and started to work on it. I diligently worked on that plan to prepare every day until the day before conference. I truly felt how inspired President Nelson was to invite me and all members of the church to prepare in this way.
Darla: It wasn’t really part of my conference prep plan, but I also listened to President Nelson’s biography by Sheri Dew, Insights from a Prophet’s Life, during this time. At the end of that book, I realized how uniquely qualified he was and how much he had been prepared to be the prophet at this time. I felt a strong desire to follow him and if I had to describe what I learned from hearing about his life through the biography in just a few words it would be, “Go and Do.” President Nelson never hesitated to drop his own agenda and do what God asked him to do.
Darla: I watched the April 2020 conference this past weekend and felt the Spirit so strongly. There were many moments where the Spirit testified to me that Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God called today for our time. He knows how to guide us. He loves us. He loves the Savior and his greatest desire is to help us #HearHim, to hear Jesus Christ in our own life.
Darla: So, back to that Monday after general conference when I felt I was in a funk and didn’t quite know where to go next after months of preparation and then experiencing a truly unforgettable general conference.
Darla: I took the time to ponder and meditate about the Savior and the last week of His life and that is when I realized that I didn’t need a huge confirmation that Russell M. Nelson is a prophet. I had already received it. The peace didn’t come all at once. It came over many experiences in the last two years. It came through earnestly seeking, countless prayers and a desire to try to follow the prophet.
Darla: Today, I can say with confidence that I know Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God.
Darla: I knew that this story is what I could share with you on this episode as the perfect complement to the previous three episodes about invitations from the prophet.
Darla: I am sharing my experience in the hopes that it will help you know you are not alone. If you wrestle with something spiritual, please know that other people do too. You may not see it in the little squares of Instagram or just by looking at them in the pew in front of you at church, but everyone struggles.
Darla: If you ever look at others and compare yourself and think they have their testimony all figured out or they know exactly how to live the gospel or they have learned to be a perfect disciple of Jesus Christ, I invite you to stop. Don’t compare yourself. No one has it all figured out. It’s OK to struggle, to question and even to wrestle with God. There is no harm in that. The harm comes when we give up and think we aren’t worthy or will never know for ourselves. My hope in sharing my story is that it will illustrate to you it’s not always a cut and dried process and if you keep trying, you really can know for yourself.
Darla: The theme for me in my experiences preparing and participating in the April 2020 conference was that I can hear the Savior in my life. He knows me. He guides me. He does it through a living prophet. He does it through the scriptures. He does it in a way that is unique and personal for me.
Darla: I know He will do the same for you.
Darla: I love you and am so grateful you took the time to listen today. I hope you will feel through the Spirit the message God has for you at this time in your life. Thanks for listening and I will see you next week!
Outro: I hope you enjoyed the podcast and if you did share it with a friend. I would love it if you would leave a review and rate it on Apple podcasts. This actually helps more moms to find the podcast and to gain confidence in their ability to hear and follow God’s voice in motherhood. For show notes, resources, and information about courses to help you be more spiritually minded, head over to spirituallymindedmom.com. For more motherhood inspiration. Follow along on Instagram @spirituallymindedmom. Have an amazing day and remember, you are a beloved daughter of heavenly parents who want you to succeed and who want to be your partner in motherhood.