Although I have been home for almost a month, today I find myself reflecting a lot on my time in Jerusalem. I have written my feelings in my journal over and over again, but I think I just want to share them with people.
I don't know if I will ever go back to Jerusalem, which is what made it so hard to leave. But today I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the memories I will always have of my time spent there: memories of the friendships I found, the different cultures and diverse religions I learned about. Memories of absolute beauty-- beauty in nature, beauty in the city, and beauty in the sincere eyes of the people in Jerusalem. Memories of long field trip days that somehow flew by, and memories of studying long into the night. Memories of time spent with the locals, and long conversations with friends. Memories of hard lessons learned, and funny moments shared. Memories of added confidence and renewed motivation to follow my dreams. Most of all, however, I am grateful for the gift of a strengthened testimony, which comes from the memories I have of the spirit I felt in Jerusalem.
During our last few days in Jerusalem, we walked through the last week of the Savior's life. We visited the Garden of Gethsemane, did the Via Delarosa walk, and went to the Garden Tomb. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the Savior at each one of these places.
I know. It's funny, isn't it? I think I can recall a few times where I wrote on this blog that the spirit in Jerusalem was nothing like I thought it would be. In fact, a lot of times, I don't think there was even a spirit to speak of. However, looking back, I can see that each place we visited from the life of the Savior gave me a more real sense of his life and his love for me as an individual.
There have been times in my life when my testimony of the gospel has been very weak. It was during these times that I felt like I was floating. I felt pretty much numb to any feelings. In retrospect it seems almost like I had given up and I was letting the currents of life carry me wherever they may. Going to Jerusalem snapped me out of this. In the last few months my testimony has evolved.
Part of one of my favorite quotes says, "I am finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tainted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarf goals." This quote, which I had hanging on my bulletin board at the Jerusalem Center, gave me renewed motivation to get outside of my comfort zone and take control of my life. This quote (in full) pushed me to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. Up until recently, I have viewed the life of the Savior as a sort of story. Being in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, and Jerusalem (getting to walk through His life as we read about it from the Bible) helped me understand the reality of Jesus. He was real! He lived on the earth like I do. He had friends and parents like me. He felt the pain of betrayal just like too many people today experience. He felt sadness and joy like everyone does. But he was no ordinary man. He atoned for the sins of the world. He died for me, and he was resurrected. He has made my happiness possible and your happiness possible. And that is miraculous.
He is real! I have a testimony of that.