The Spirit at the Y - Y Magazine
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First Person

The Spirit at the Y

BYU grads share how gospel light changed their lives.

Practicing the Healer’s Art

By Eryn Paskett Hansen (BS ’18), Logan, UT

I’ll never forget the early-morning prayers with fellow nursing students before our clinical practice in hospitals, healthcare clinics, and nursing homes. We would gather with our clinical instructor and pray for guidance in applying classroom lessons on living, breathing humans! I didn’t want my patients needing IVs to become my practice pin cushions.

BYU nurses gather to pray by a hospital bed.
Illustration by Travis Foster

The words the Healer’s art, a phrase often used in the BYU College of Nursing, would come to be a source of strength as I walked into rooms and into the lives of those who needed healing and Christ’s light. I felt the companionship of the Holy Ghost in what some might deem mere schooling. I don’t think I would have been able to help my patients as much without bathing my practice in gospel light.

Years later, as the mother of a young son with cancer, that vision of gospel-enriched medical practice continues to give me sanctuary and solace. When my son was diagnosed, I found myself praying that the nurses who would care for my baby would also immerse their practice in the gospel as I had learned to do at BYU. And they did—they were true practitioners of the Healer’s art.

The Other Side of Complexity

By Hannah Julien Claridge (BA ’18), Pima, AZ

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

In J. Spencer Fluhman’s (BA ’98) winter 2015 Utah history class, I trekked that journey through the complexity of Church history, and my life was forever changed by the simplicity I found on the other side. I was inspired by the unapologetic way Dr. Fluhman taught complex and sometimes uncomfortable Latter-day Saint history. Polygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, relations with the United States of America, the priesthood ban are all controversial topics that can cause pain for members of the Church. A casual introduction to such aspects of Church history can lead people to question the prophets of the Restoration and—by domino effect—the rest of their testimony of the Church.

But Dr. Fluhman provided no mere casual introduction! We dove deeply into the realities, the pain, and the confusion that came with difficult doctrine, impossible situations, and complicated choices. Throughout our course, he bore powerful testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. This testimony, combined with his thorough knowledge of the history, became a shining beacon for me. Now, years later, I am so grateful for the sure foundation of testimony I built and especially for the experience I had wrestling with complicated issues within the context of a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ.

Awesome Wonder

By Andrew J. Lund (BA ’93), Redding, CA

My physical-geography professor began with prayer on the first day of class. He spoke of the earth as one of the Lord’s great creations. He explained we would learn more about how this planet is organized and how it functions. 

I heard, understood, and agreed, but I really didn’t feel it at that moment.

Later that semester, as I sat listening to the professor, feeling joined my understanding. The order and symmetry of the planet struck me. I was overwhelmed by the logic of what I was learning. My understanding deepened and my mind enlightened, and I saw and comprehended the compatibility of the science and the theology of the creation. Suddenly, I was awash with amazement and gratitude for this glorious world.

The physical-geography class I took was one of the most spiritual, enlightening, and faith-building experiences I had in my time at BYU. I will forever be grateful for a professor who created an environment and presented science in such a manner that the Spirit could enlighten my mind and strengthen my conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Ghost Knows Psychology

By Heather Markworth Preece (BS ’08), Lehi, UT

My first semester at BYU, I took a history of psychology course and was surprised to learn how much of psychology was rooted in philosophy. One night I was sitting on my bed furiously highlighting and taking notes from my textbook in preparation for an exam. I started reading about René Descartes, who in his studies of the universe, concluded that God had to exist. As I read these words, I felt the Spirit testify of the truthfulness to my heart. I had never experienced such a thing—having secular knowledge confirmed as truth from God.

Illustration by Travis Foster

That semester I gained a great love for these philosophers, who were trying to find light and truth wherever they could, and for BYU—for helping me to see gospel principles in everyday topics and subjects. The Holy Ghost testifies of many truths and witnessed to me that day of gospel truths that could be found in psychology if I looked for them.

Knowing Brother Joseph Again

By Jillaine Baker Hadfield (BA ’63), South Jordan, UT

I came to BYU with a testimony of the gospel, but I didn’t know much about the Prophet Joseph. My sophomore year I was fortunate to take a theology course from Truman G. Madsen, my bishop. He asked me to write my research papers on specific historical topics about the Prophet Joseph Smith from the perspective of early members of the Church. At the library’s Special Collections, I found pioneers’ memories of personal experiences with the Prophet in the Juvenile Instructor, a 19th-century Church publication.

I was intrigued by these early members’ devotion to the prophet. As I read these memories, my heart swelled with the Spirit bearing witness that Joseph truly was a Prophet of God, the Prophet of the Restoration.

At the end of my sessions in the library, I would often rush to Professor Madsen’s office in the Joseph Smith Building and watch him grin with glee as I recounted the wonderful vignettes I was reading. “He’s a prophet! He’s a prophet!” I would fairly shout.

I wrote research papers both semesters using the material that I collected in Special Collections. It was an assignment that changed my life.


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