The Miracle I Needed

Jennifer Bassett

О Это Чудо Для Меня

You could probably say I have high standards for myself. My mom, at fourteen years old,
wanted to get baptized the minute she heard the message of the restoration. All of my dad’s
ancestors were baptized by the time the early saints reached Salt Lake City. In my own 20 years
of existence, I’ve probably missed sacrament meeting a total of ten times. I begged to give talks
in primary. I completed the personal progress program twice. I finished four years of early
morning seminary with 100% attendance. The day I heard that sisters could serve missions at
nineteen years old, I made a pact with my best friend, written and signed, swearing that I would
go. I’ve always tried my best, but I’ve rarely felt that my best has been enough.
I mess up. There are days when I don’t read my scriptures. I kneel to pray every morning,
wrestling my way through the forest of random thoughts that is my brain, only to realize every
thirty seconds that I’ve started to climb one of the trees that is nowhere close to the one I want. I
loved my mission in Russia and wanted to give all my attention to the work, but I was accused,
not without reason, of being in love with my zone leader. I have my share of faults. But the one
I’ve always been most worried about is how rarely I feel the spirit.
I never had a big spiritual witness that the book of Mormon is true. I’ve never really
doubted that it is, but more often than not, I doubt if there’s something wrong with me because I
can’t seem to hear the spirit whispering to me. Excluding my mission, I can recall two times
when I felt a distinct witness or prompting, and both of them were before I was sixteen. Did my
spiritual ears go deaf because my hormones were screaming too loudly about the cute blond in
my class? Is there a sign on some crucial piece of my spiritual cell tower that reads “OUT OF
ORDER” in bold, red letters?

I tried not to dwell on it. I didn’t want to stress about my ever growing list of questions
that I hadn’t been able to answer. I wrestled with my worry about the line in my patriarchal
blessing where it says that I’m good at recognizing the spirit. I swallowed back the bitter taste of
panic when President Nelson emphatically declared that “in coming days, it will not be possible
to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the
Holy Ghost.” I felt the Spirit more on my mission–when I was testifying every day, when
praying was as natural as breathing, when I discussed the gospel every day with fellow
missionaries, members, and investigators, and when we saw miracles in the lives of the people
with whom we were working. I lived for those miracles–the kind that made every hair on my
arms stand at attention. But soon enough, I went back home, and everything went back to
normal. After my initial joy at seeing my family again, it was like waking up from a perfect
dream. I hated it.
I cried multiple times a day for two weeks. I still prayed and read the scriptures, but it
was never the same. Imagine: In my bedroom, which I share with my four younger sisters, the
mess alone, which could easily have been created by a tornado, would drive away the spirit; add
to that the six year old tornado herself, who won’t stop sniffing my face and shoulders, calling it
“nose kisses,” and effectively making scripture study actually impossible. Someone in the
kitchen is listening to One Direction through cheap desktop speakers, which clashes horribly
with Brahms’ Rhapsody No. 2 in G minor that my sister is pummeling into the piano in the next
room. My recently retired dad is in his office watching YouTube videos on knife making.
Someone in the toy room is raking through buckets of legos, trying to restore Lego Island by
finding the right piece. And I just want peace.

I craved a miracle: something to prove to me that I wasn’t lost. I needed to feel what I’d
felt in Russia, when I could forget about myself and glory in the subtle but clear manifestations
of my Heavenly Father. As it was, I would have considered it a miracle if my siblings would last
ten minutes without shouting.
At last the day I’d been waiting for finally arrived: I flew to Orange county, California, to
visit one of my MTC companions, with whom I had also served twice in the mission field. I only
had two days to be with her, but I was going to make them the best two days of my life. We
walked around Laguna beach and ate gelato. We went to little shops at balboa with her cousin
and the Austrian boy we’d met at the beach. We stayed up late talking and watching High School
Musical 3 because I’d never seen it before. I fried myself on the beach until I was twelve shades
darker and it hurt to move. I let the massive waves tumble my body like a pair of jeans in the
dryer, picking me up and smashing my shoulders into the sand until they almost bled.
On my last night there, we had dinner with the sister missionaries, and we invited the
Austrian boy. As we ate on the porch, the sisters got to know him and asked if he’d like to learn
more about Jesus Christ, to which he replied that he already knew some about Jesus from his
school. I could tell they didn’t really know where to go from that response. Once he left the
room, I expressed my empathy to the sisters, reminiscing on the many similar ambiguous
deflections I’d encountered in my time as a missionary. After dinner, one of the sisters asked if
she could use the piano for their spiritual thought. Of course they said yes. No sooner had my
friend and former companion heard that there would be a musical number than she volunteered
me to sing, and I immediately laughed in agreement, remembering fondly the many instances in
Russia when she had asked me to sing for her to calm her down after a stressful day. I found a

hymnal, stood next to the piano, and listened to the beginning of an unfamiliar arrangement of a
well-known hymn.
“I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully He
proffers me.” Time slowed down, stopped, changed gears, and then floored it in reverse. I was a
missionary again. I forgot about myself. I wanted them all to hear the conviction in my voice,
that I knew it was true. I wanted the Austrian boy to feel Christ’s love so that he would want to
learn more. Even on their badly out-of-tune piano, with no previous practice with this
arrangement, the atmosphere in the room bent at my will. With my tone, the inflections in my
voice, the volume I chose for a particular line, I controlled the world for a minute. And yet it
wasn’t me; somehow I knew how I should sing without really thinking about it. “I marvel that he
would descend from His throne divine to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.” I sang
the words of the familiar hymn, and I meant them. I told a story. I conveyed a feeling. I knew
that my Savior loved me. That he loved everyone in that room, and everyone in existence. That
“He [cared] for me enough to die for me.” I looked at the faces of the people around me. My
companion was crying. Her family was smiling, listening. I couldn’t read as well the expression
on the Austrian boy’s face, but I knew he felt something. I felt something. It was then, in front of
friends and strangers, when I bore my simple testimony in borrowed words, that I felt what I had
been longing to feel again. As I sang the English words, “it is wonderful to me,” the Russian
lyrics echoed in my head: «О это чудо для меня.» It is a miracle to me.
I flew back the next morning. I was greeted unceremoniously by my family, as loud as
ever. No one noticed a change in me. If anything, I was extra grumpy because I hadn’t gotten
enough sleep. But that night in California changed me. God knew how I could feel His love

again. He knew that I needed to bear my testimony with that song. I don’t know what happened
to that boy. I know he’s back in Austria by now, but I will probably never know if his life
changed that day. I only know that mine did. And that was the only miracle I needed.

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