This is a photo of Kirsten Erickson Benson, a courageous lady who left her home in Denmark as a teen, traveled across America by handcart and settled in Utah, all in search of religious freedom.
Kirsten’s journey was difficult. She left Denmark when she was very young. She couldn’t cross the plains with her family and had to shoulder much of the burden of pulling the handcart over mountains, sand and water. There were days she wanted to give up, sit down under a tree and die, but her faith and prayers, and the faith and prayers of her friends and family kept her pressing forward day by day.
Kirsten’s journey left her nearly dead, But her steadfast faith in Christ saw her through the difficulties of leaving the home she loved in order to make a better future for her children and grandchildren.
Today, our journey is different than our forefathers. We may not have the backbreaking work, lack of food, or building a new life in a wilderness to press forward through, but our journey is just as arduous.
There are times where the evil “wrong is right”, “nothing is sacred” attitude that is prevailing all around us is almost more than my spirit and body can handle. To tell you the truth, there are days where the sadness and hopelessness stops me in my tracks and it’s all I can do to keep pressing forward. Is it any wonder why this year’s Young Women/Young Men theme is……
““Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).
Can you imagine a more time-appropriate theme? Everyday when we watch the news, head to the public bathroom, or see the anger on social media, we have to decide -like Kirsten- if we want to continue pressing forward or sit down and give up. Everyday we have to learn to love ALL men, feast upon the words of Christ and continue to endure to the end.
This life is not a fight to be won, it is a journey we need to continue on until our destination is reached.
It is my prayer that we will all learn what Kirsten learned so many years ago and have the strength, vision and courage to endure the hard days, enjoy the easier times, and find joy in the journey!