Tuesday, February 28, 2017
How Pizza Strengthened My Testimony
I have often found myself repeating this phrase, “It has come to pass; it has not come to stay.” I use it to channel and concentrate my efforts to maintain a positive perspective during the trying times of my life. My own experiences include trials such as group projects, illnesses and being the “new kid” at school or work; though the concept could apply to any kind of difficulty. These last few weeks I have pondered how this concept of endurance has made an impact on my state of mind and in my life. I wondered what the most impactful experience that I had while channeling this idea was.
Some of you may be empathetic, but I imagine that most will be surprised by the answer: wedding planning.
The months spent planning my wedding were some of the most difficult months of my life. I know that sounds melodramatic, but there was a lot going on. My then fiancé and I had both just returned from serving full-time missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were both has a full-load of coursework at our university. We both found part-time jobs, but barely had two dimes to rub together. On top of all of this there were some very difficult family issues happening at the time. Math seemed like a foreign language at that point, one that I definitely didn’t have the energy to practice after getting home from work in the evenings. Class and work seemed so unfulfilling after spending so many months teaching people about Jesus Christ. In fact, returning to the real world after being so focused as a missionary was extraordinarily difficult. I found that I didn’t like the music on the radio or the movies that came out in the theaters anymore and most of my friends had since graduated and moved away. It was difficult to connect with other people in my classes, not that I ever had any time to try and establish new friendships anyway.
One day all the difficulty of my situation seemed to compound. I was having a truly terrible day. I felt exhausted after spending a good portion of the night studying and not grasping concepts for an important math exam and also thereby completely ignoring all of my other homework. There were at least 20 important wedding decisions that were time sensitive that needed to be taken care of and to top it off I felt like I was failing to live up to the missionary lifestyle that I so loved. I remember dwelling on these feelings of inadequacy and being so overwhelmed during the short break that I had before returning to work. Before the break ended I still needed to run a couple of errands and use the last of my meager paycheck to finish up the bills for the upcoming month.
As is to be expected, I encountered a bit of a line at the bank where I deposited my rent check. Normally, this wouldn’t be a very important detail, but that day I had been so busy and rushed that I hadn’t been able to eat anything. As I sat in line at the bank and watched the minutes change I knew that I wouldn’t have time to stop and get lunch before reporting for duty.
I was overwhelmed mentally and emotionally and physically exhausted. I needed to refuel and there was no way that time would allow that. I felt so completely tired and just... defeated. I was holding back tears as I finally made it to the front of the line and made my deposit.
The teller was as friendly as always and because I had gone through the drive through she couldn’t have noticed my despair. For her it must have been a normal day and she was just doing her job. After she sent down my receipt for the deposit of my last few dollars, she invited me to come inside to the lobby. That particular day the bank was expressing appreciation for their customers by providing pizza, veggie sticks, drinks and cookies for lunch.
I was astounded. LUNCH! PIZZA! Something to eat, in the two extra minutes that I had available. I actually cried. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks. To me, this wasn’t just salvation from hunger and low energy, even though it did seem to be the most delicious pizza I had ever tasted. In that moment I was reminded of something that I knew, but was having trouble remembering. It was a testament of Heavenly Father’s love for me, individually, and His attention to my life, my struggles and my needs. That pizza slice was heaven sent!
I knew in that moment that Heavenly Father knew me and was aware of me. I knew that He heard my prayers and answered them. I felt comforted that I hadn’t been given more than I could handle and most importantly that I wasn’t alone. That sweet teller didn’t know my situation, but Heavenly Father was able to use her as an instrument in His hands to better my life. In the big picture, missing lunch one day wouldn’t really matter. But I will forever remember that seemingly melodramatic experience as one that has helped shape my conversion and serves as a point of reference for me when I feel lost.
It seems that having a strong testimony base allows for small and simple (or even melodramatic) things to reinforce that testimony in very powerful ways. Potent experiences such as what I have described not only strengthen testimonies, they also empower conversions and inspire true discipleship. I have learned that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
And yes, that can even include pizza.
Koby Lopez is 22 years old and happily married. She and her husband are both studying at Texas A&M University and are enjoying their newlywed/student life, but are also excited to graduate and start a family. Koby loves surprises and tries to focus on the little things in life. Her personal motto is "preparation brings blessings."