Jess Kettle: Choosing to Lean In
A young mom, Jess Kettle had always found joy in her membership in the Church. But when people she had looked up to and trusted began to leave, she found herself filled with anxiety regarding her faith. Jess felt a pressing need to double-down spiritually and dedicate herself to finding answers from God. In the process, she found herself more converted than ever. On this week’s episode, we talk with Jess about her journey and how the catalyst for her true conversion really came down to one thing—listening to a prophet's voice.
I was drowning and this was the reach of my life.
The Gathering Home book that Jess co-authored, alongside Emily Belle Freeman and Katie Hughes:
Jess's Instagram account: @jesskettle
- "Faith—the Choice Is Yours," Bishop Richard C. Edgley,October 2010
- "Sisters' Participation in the Gathering of Israel" President Russel M. Nelson, October 2018
- "Divine Discontent," Sister Michelle D. Craig, October 2018
- "Stand Forever" Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge, BYU Devotional, January 2019
“When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him — when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life — you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do . . .
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with His power which is available to every earnestly seeking daughter or son of God. It is my testimony that when we draw His power into our lives, both He and we will rejoice" (President Russell M. Nelson, "Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives," April 2017).
63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Doctrine and Covenants 88:63).
Sheri Dew's books:
Worth the Wrestle
2:22- When Your Foundation Starts To Shake
7:42- The Love of a Prophet
14:56- The Support of a Bishop
16:52- Creating a Game Plan
21:26- Tiny Steps Toward Him
27:24- Speak Freely and Openly
32:57- Spiritual Mentors
35:34- A Lot of Questions and No Doubts
39:21- What Does It Mean to Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
The episode you're about to hear is a little bit unique because it was born from a conversation that I just could not get out of my head. It's a conversation about a real-life decision to choose faith.
To me what you will hear Jess Kettle describe is a perfect example of what Bishop Richard C. Edgley actually taught in the October 2010 general conference when he said, "The reality of the Restoration of the gospel in these latter days continues to be challenged. The continual bombardment of such messages may cause confusion, doubt and pessimism, each attacking the fundamental truths we believe in, our faith in God, and our hope in the future.
"This might be the reality of our world, but we can still choose how we react to it. When our sacred doctrine and beliefs are challenged, this is our opportunity to become acquainted with God in a most private and intimate manner. This is our opportunity to choose.
"Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today's world, I wish to suggest a single choice–a choice of peace and protection and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. Be aware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire or effort. It does not come as the dew falls from heaven.
"The Savior said. 'Come unto me' and 'Knock, and it shall be given you.' These are action verbs–come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism," end quote.
Jess Kettle is a commercial and brand photographer whose clients include Studio McGee, Gathre, and Golden Coil. An obsession with light and color led her to create Jess Kettle presets in 2018. And most recently, Jess co-authored The Gathering Home with Emily Belle Freeman and Katie Hughes.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so excited to have Jess Kettle with me today. Jess, welcome.
Jess Kettle 2:20
I'm so honored to be here.
Morgan Jones 2:23
Well, I have to tell listeners kind of how this episode came to be. So Jess Kettle took pictures for the All In book, and as we were taking the pictures, we were just talking and Jess told me about this experience that she had a couple of years ago. And after I left, I was driving home and I just could not get that experience out of my head. And I spent the next couple of weeks thinking about it–I was on vacation at the time–and when I got back, I texted Jess and I was like, "Do you think that maybe you would be willing to come on All In?" and she was gracious enough to do this.
So, Jess take me back two years ago, you had an experience where . . . and we're gonna kind of deep dive into it today. But to start off, tell me about kind of the place you were in in your life two years ago, how you were feeling, what was going on, and then we'll kind of dig deeper.
Jess Kettle 3:21
Yeah, so circumstantially, my life was so good. I had four happy and healthy children, a husband that I adored, my business was thriving, I had just launched a new line of photo editing presets that were wildly and unexpectedly successful. And I had so much to be thankful for. But I think–we kind of expect that our biggest challenges are going to come on the heels of our failures. And mine kind of came on the heels of one of my greatest successes up to that point. And with that new business, and the unexpected success came a lot of unexpected challenges too.
And I kind of found myself dealing with, you know, trying to juggle those challenges and trying to juggle some of the new opportunities and speaking engagements that came with that, as well as being a mom and a wife and an entrepreneur. There was so much that came with that package. And kind of a series of small but like . . . some small but unfortunate series of events, I suddenly found myself totally and completely overcome with major anxiety and with a healthy dose of imposter syndrome. And to put it bluntly, I just–I was not okay. And I didn't know how to solve my problems. I was totally stuck in that dark place.
Morgan Jones 5:00
How would you say that that then kind of bled into your experience with faith?
Jess Kettle 5:06
I think . . . I would describe my faith up until this point as more religious than spiritual. Obedience has always come a lot easier to me than faith and the vulnerability that faith requires. So, you know, I was totally active in the Church, I was fulfilling my callings, I was doing my best to keep the commandments and honor my covenants. And I was showing up appropriately in all of those ways.
But on the flip side, I really struggled with feeling the spirit and recognizing it. I really struggled with receiving personal revelation, to the point where I didn't even really think that I was capable of it. And other people would talk about their experiences of having promptings or of feeling the Holy Ghost. And I just didn't really believe that it worked that way for me.
Also, up until this point, I would say that I had very little resistance in my membership in the Church. I have a big extended family that are all members, I have a ton of support in my community, and a lot of friends who are members. And so choosing to be faithful was easy in those situations. I had so many remarkable people whose faith I could use to buoy up my own.
But as time went on, I started to have some tough questions about the Church, which were terrifying to me. And I quickly shoved aside and the people around me started having questions, and some really important people in my life started to leave. And I think a lot of members are experiencing that right now. And I hate to admit this, Morgan, please tell me I'm not the only one who used to feel this way, but I think as a youth, and probably even in my twenties, I would look at people who were leaving the Church, and I thought, "They're leaving because they want to sin. They just don't want to be about good things." And that's one thing, but it's hard when good, Christ like remarkable people who you look to, to be in your corner, when those people start to walk away, it can really shake the foundation that you think you have, if you're not sturdy enough on your own two feet.
Morgan Jones 7:41
Absolutely. Okay, so you're in this space, and you happen to listen to a talk by President Nelson, and that talk kind of spurred you to create a bit of a game plan of some steps that you were going to take in hopes of getting answers for yourself. Tell me a little bit about what talk this was, why it resonated with you, and then I want to talk a little bit about this game plan that you came up with.
Jess Kettle 8:09
Yeah. So there I was, literally drowning in anxiety. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't think about anything else other than my obvious shortcomings, which just were continuing to run through my head at all times. And if you've experienced anxiety before, it is crushing. And it feels inescapable, to the point where you just wish you could jump outside of your own body because it is so–it can be so excruciating.
And so I decided to go for a drive late at night, it was dark, and I was by myself. And I was desperately trying to think of something that I could do to distract myself. I was kind of going through my internal list of, do I listen to some music? Do I turn on a podcast? Maybe I can listen to a book or something, anything to stop feeling the way I was feeling. And I had the very distinct impression to listen to President Nelson's talk from October 2018 women's session, "Sisters Participation in the Gathering of Israel."
And it was a talk that interestingly, as I mentioned, I had kind of a hard time recognizing the spirit and part of that is, I don't usually cry when I feel the Holy Ghost. You know, I was that kid, the one kid on the line of young women with dry eyes at girls camp testimony meeting and looking around wondering what on earth was wrong with me.
But when I first heard that talk in real time, I sobbed uncontrollably and in a way that I didn't even really understand. But that was very sweet that I had an attachment to that talk and it kind of came back to me when I really needed it. And in that talk, number one, President Nelson expresses in the most beautiful, genuine way, his love and his admiration for the women of the Church. And that was something that I really needed in that moment.
And I think it's important to recognize that, you know, the love of a wise and wonderful, elderly man feels nice, but the love of a prophet signifies the love of our Savior. And I felt his love so acutely in that moment.
And secondly, he issues a challenge to the women of the Church. And in that challenge, he asked us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. He asked us to attend the temple. And he asked us to engage in Relief Society. And one other thing–
Morgan Jones 11:02
Social media fast, right?
Jess Kettle 11:03
Yes, 10 day social media fast. And I had kind of half heartedly on it at the time, but it seemed very important to listen to those promptings again. And the talk ended, and I was shocked to find that my heart and mind were totally quiet. And I was totally at peace.
And that moment felt more miraculous and more significant than the Savior walking on water, or raising the dead or healing the sick, because it was something that had been impossible for me to do for weeks. And I was so desperate to hang on to that feeling that I listened to the talk over and over, and over and over.
And I drove to Walmart, and I listened to the talk inside Walmart. And I just, I felt desperate to hang on to it. I felt very clear about what I needed to do. But I felt very overwhelmed by the task. And just, you know, seemingly by accident, after listening to President Nelson's talk, like, you know, 15 times, or whatever, I clicked over onto Michelle Craig's talk, "Divine discontent," and you know, my love for Michelle Craig.
Morgan Jones 12:26
I do know, it runs deep.
Jess Kettle 12:27
Runs real deep. And this is why. In a nutshell, her talk addresses the fact that if we're honest with ourselves, that we're aware of our spiritual shortcomings, and that we have those feelings, so that if we draw closer to the Savior, that he can help lead us to a higher and holier way of living. But that if we don't do that, then the alternative is to let Satan twist those feelings into feelings of crippling inadequacy.
And I feel like President Nelson's talk gave me the idea of what I needed to do, and then Sr. Craig's talk gave me the little nudge and the pep talk to be able to do it. So I decided that I did need to take a step back from social media. I needed to read the Book of Mormon, which was petrifying to me,
Morgan Jones 13:30
Because you had never read it cover to cover before, right?
Jess Kettle 13:33
Yes, I had never read the Book of Mormon cover to cover, which was kind of embarrassing for me to admit for a long time. And when I've kind of tried to break down why, I think it ultimately can be summed up in fear. I was petrified of reading the Book of Mormon and getting to the end and asking if it was true, and not feeling something.
Because I didn't trust myself. And I didn't have that relationship with my Heavenly Parents and with my Savior to know that I could have that confirmation. And so it was something that I really avoided,–clearly for, you know, 35 years. And but I knew that it was sort of this fear that I had.
Morgan Jones 14:22
So then you decided to step away from social media, you decided you needed to read the Book of Mormon? Was there anything else?
Jess Kettle 14:29
So I came up with a little–I mean, I don't think that we want to think of faith as formulaic and it shouldn't be, but I did come up with a formula for myself. But even before that, I felt very strongly that I needed to ask for help. I'm really good at coming up with goals for myself and then walking away from them when the going gets tough and I knew I needed to be supported in this. And so I actually reached out to my Bishop, and, you know who–lucky for me–is a very good friend. And I said, "I'm not okay. And I need some guidance here." Which was, in retrospect, such an important thing to be able to just sort of wave the white flag and say, "I'm not okay. I don't know if I can do this on my own. And I need some accountability. And I need some support in this."
Morgan Jones 15:23
I think also, it shows how serious you were about it.
Jess Kettle 15:27
Morgan Jones 15:27
Which I–not that we need to signal anything to the Lord, because he knows our hearts, but I think that when you are doing everything that you can to be able to get through something, and you are exhausting all options–and the bishop is a resource that's available to us, you know, so why not?
Jess Kettle 15:49
Absolutely. There's another quote by President Nelson that I love from another talk where he says, "When you reach for the Savior with the same intensity that a drowning person reaches for air, that you will understand and be able to apply the power of Jesus Christ in your life."
And that's where I was. I was drowning, and this was the reach of my life, it felt like. And so I felt like I just needed to, you know, call in on every possible support system that I had. And I knew that I wasn't going to be able to get through what I was getting through, without all of the blessings that we're promised through our faith.
And so I met with my Bishop, and I laid it all out. And I just said, "Listen, I am terrified to do this. But I know that I need to," and he said that he would be there. And he talked to me about his experience of reading the Book of Mormon, which really helped me feel less pressure about it. And so then after meeting with him, I came up with my little formula, which was that first of all, I would start off every morning, and you know, I did do a 10 day social media fast from that point, but you can't fast from social media forever, especially if it's your job. And so I would not engage in any social media, I would not look at news or send texts or do anything else until I started my day off by listening to a general conference talk or reading a Church book, or even listening to a Church podcast or something like that.
And really, this was just part of me, throwing myself headfirst into studying and learning through faith and through study about the gospel. So I started my day off with that, I committed to read the scriptures every day. And my goal was to read a couple of chapters, but sometimes it was a couple of verses. And I just needed to, like create that habit, so that I wouldn't fall off the bandwagon as I, you know, kind of have done so many times before.
Another thing that I did, of course, was, you know, to attend the temple, which also was a little bit of a struggle, because it's something that I would do, but I didn't really get a lot out of, and I made a commitment to pray really earnestly every day. And so that was sort of–that was my game plan. And with that, it felt like those were the tools that I needed to kind of get me going. And I really feel like, you know, while that might look different for everyone, the combination of those things really led to a lot of miraculous little changes in my life. And it was a lot of work, and–as all good things are. But it really changed who I was.
Morgan Jones 18:51
Yeah, I want to touch on a couple of things that you just kind of hit on. First, I do think that it's important to note that your game plan may be different than somebody else's game plan. But I think being very deliberate in choosing to seek, I think is important. And I love that you chose to kind of . . . double down, because I think like you said, it can be scary the thought of, "Well, what if this isn't true?" And so sometimes in an effort to avoid that, it's like, "Oh, well, maybe it's just easier to walk away."
But I love the choice, the deliberate choice of, "I'm going to double down and see what happens." And I think that's powerful. Tell me, Jess, when we talk about it being kind of scary to even enter into something like this, what would you say was the weight or the gravity of trying this? Like, what was on the line for you, depending on this experience?
Jess Kettle 20:09
I think in so many ways, this felt like spiritual survival. And I think I've been going through the motions for so long, without really reaping the benefits, if that makes sense. This wasn't a thing that changed my life, it was probably one of the most defining experiences of my life. I think a lot of it in terms of maybe like serving a mission.
I never had the opportunity to serve a mission, deciding to do this, deciding to, you know, I was like, either I'm leaning in full force, or I'm not going to be able to stand through this. Deciding to do that, and to take all of–every ounce of effort and energy that I possessed to trying to discover what faith really was for me, and trying to establish a relationship that felt real and tangible with the Savior was . . . I can never be the same. I'll never be the same as I was through this process.
Morgan Jones 21:26
So what did you find in the end? And also, what did you find at the end of the Book of Mormon when you made it to the end and prayed about it?
Jess Kettle 21:35
Yeah, so I think this is a little bit like when you decide that you want to get in shape. And it turns out that like, eating healthy food, and moving your body makes you fit, like, it's not rocket science, you know. These things I was doing were not unique. These were textbook, Sunday school answers, you know. Read your scriptures. Go to the temple. Pray.
But I did it with a different level of earnestness and with a greater need, than I ever had before. And as I really committed to kind of, you know, experimenting upon the word, I felt like I experienced just this tiny bit beautiful string of miracle after miracle. And it shocked me. It shocked me that I could, you know, be on my knees, in tears, and struggling so much to try and understand something, and then the next day, that I could stumble upon a conference talk or read a scripture, that would perfectly enlighten my understanding.
It shocked me that I was able to discern the spirit for the first time, and that it didn't have to look like the way that it did for everyone else. People talk about the spirit washing over you, or all these different things. And I learned for me that the Holy Ghost feels like a lightbulb moment, you know, like cartoons, light bulbs going on over your head. And I just had light bulb after light bulb after light bulb going off, as I just put one foot in front of the other, to try and draw closer to the Savior.
I came across a scripture kind of early on, D&C 88:63. And it says, "Draw near unto me, and I'll draw near unto you. Seek me diligently and you will find me. Ask and you shall receive, knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
And I read that and I kind of thought, okay, Heavenly Father, like, Game on. I'm going to show up, and I feel like you're promising me that you're going to meet me halfway, and to take those tiny . . . those tiny steps towards him that felt so vulnerable. And not that it wasn't hard, and not that it happened easily. I don't want to say that, you know, overnight that I was a different person. I threw myself into this full force for months. But every time I took one of those risks, He was there. And I felt like He had been there and He had just been waiting for me to come to the table and to have a relationship with Him.
And they seem small, they seem insignificant, those little things and almost commonplace. But to me, each of those little experiences, whether it was you know, one little light bulb or the moments that felt like 100 light bulbs went off in the room, those will always feel like such sacred and truly miraculous things to me.
So I'm going through this process and, and I'm experiencing so many sweet little things. And then I get to the end of the Book of Mormon, and I'm faced with, you know, that scary question. But when I talked to my Bishop, he shared his experience of reading the Book of Mormon. And the most helpful thing that he said to me was, "I've been where you've been, and I've had to, you know, take the leap of faith and ask that question, too. But for me, when I got to the question, I didn't even really feel like I needed to ask it because I knew how I'd felt. And I'd seen the blessings and the changes in my life, the entire way through."
And that very much was the case for me. And I think having having the pressure sort of lifted off of that moment that I had built up so much in my head, it didn't have to be what it was for other people. I was able to ask very simply, and very simply feel at peace. And that was it. I knew through experience, that what I'd read was true. And in experimenting upon those promises, and blessings, they were self evident.
Morgan Jones 26:28
That's really beautiful. And I love that idea. I–years ago–heard Sheri Dew speak, and she was talking about the temple. And she said that she had gone to the temple, like every week for years. And she was like, you know, most of the time, it just feels like a normal day at the temple. And then she's like, but sometimes I have this really incredible experience. And something about the way that she said that it took the pressure off of the temple for me, and I feel like I've enjoyed it more ever since then. Because I'm like, well, when that day, when the time is right, and it's supposed to be this incredible experience for me, it'll be that, but in the meantime, like, I'm just going to show up.
Jess Kettle 27:13
Morgan Jones 27:14
And so I think a lot of times, it's that consistency, that showing up, and then you get to the end, and you're like, "Oh, wow," like I did learn something from that habit. Jess, you had a really interesting experience, because you are a photographer, and you have a following on Instagram as a photographer. So it's important to note, this is your profession, you had never shared anything about your faith online. But you get to the end of this, and you had this feeling that you should share your experience. And so you share it, and tell me what happened.
Jess Kettle 27:49
Yeah. So it was interesting. I listened to President Nelson's talk, again, kind of preparing for today. And he said something towards the end that I hadn't noticed before. And he said, essentially, he encouraged the women of the Church to speak freely and openly about their love of the Savior and about their testimonies.
And that–he said that when you do that, you will start to see remarkable changes, even miracles occur in your life. And it just it made me laugh a little bit, because that's exactly what happened. I was getting ready for bed, it was a Sunday night. And I had this unshakable feeling to go on Instagram and talk about what I've been experiencing.
And I thought like, this is crazy. This is crazy. This is my place of business, essentially, like this is not–it almost didn't even feel appropriate to do. And I just couldn't shake the feeling.
And, you know, I didn't hide my faith online by any means. But it wasn't something I talked openly about. And it wasn't my comfort zone by any means. And so, you know, it was still very raw and pretty tender. So I didn't share a ton of specifics, but I did get on Instagram and just say, you know, I have spent the last, you know–probably at this point had been maybe six months–really struggling spiritually and personally. And I know that it's hard to be a person of faith in today's world. And I know that there's a lot of reasons and a lot of opportunities to walk away.
But I just kind of shared my simple testimony that if you wanted to lean in, and if you wanted to do the work to stay, that it could be done. And I invited people to–I had just finished the Book of Mormon, so and I was wanting to get back on track. And so I said if you'd like to read the Book of Mormon with me, or if you need someone to link arms with and be that person to to stay with you, I'll be that person.
And I posted that probably at midnight on Sunday night, and I woke up early Monday morning to over 100 messages in response. Which multiplied to hundreds of messages throughout that day. And it was so . . . it was so sweet to kind of open up that opportunity for conversations to take place. And to see . . . people kind of come out of the woodworks to support me and to ask for support. And it just helped me realize that we are not alone in this struggle, and how much we need to rely on each other, to walk by faith.
There was a lot of messages that you know, just people who were in similar boats and needed the encouragement and wanted to do the same thing. There are people who reached out and shared some of their deepest, heaviest struggles, which really was such an honor to be trusted with some of those things. But I think the thing that . . . the message always probably remember the most is someone who reached out and said, "I feel very isolated in my ward and in my community. I don't have a lot of friends. And the ones I do, many of them are leaving. And I've really been struggling. And I just, I'm thankful that you shared because I needed one person to be an example of someone that I could relate to, and someone who I look up to, that's doing the work to stay."
And gosh, it just, it made me realize that we have those opportunities every single day to be that one person to link arms with and to be a reason to stay. And I think we all have our own little circles of influence, you know, whether you have 5 followers or 500,000 followers or 5 friends or 500 friends, we have opportunities to use our voice and our platforms to do good. And it was scary to do that, but at the end of the day, I would always think–and I have to tell myself this every time, it never gets easier to share these things publicly. But every time I do, I think if I was handed a microphone and placed into a room of thousands of people, what would I want to say? And maybe I would teach them something about photography, and maybe I would, you know, share my favorite meal. But I would hope that when I'm given the chance, I always take that opportunity to testify of Jesus Christ, and to give other people the space and the encouragement to follow him.
Morgan Jones 32:54
So, so well said. Jess, one thing that I loved when we talked about this was you shared some changes, kind of how you kept seeing miracles after this. And one of the things that you mentioned, was people that came into your life after, tell me a little bit about that.
Jess Kettle 33:16
Yeah. So unfortunately, for my friends and family, I'm somebody that very much processes things through conversation. And I kind of can't get something off my mind until I really break it down and talk to people about it. And I was–again–talking to my Bishop one day and I said, you know, "Who are my spiritual mentors supposed to be?" I have all these questions. And, you know, I was spending so much time pursuing the answers to all these questions that I had. And I really needed people who thought like me to talk about them with. And I was like, you know, I don't have young women's leaders anymore, there's no one in charge of this.
And so I started to really pray earnestly that I would be guided and led to people who could be my spiritual mentors. And I'm always somebody who's had a mentor, you know. I pick them and choose them, whether it's in motherhood, in sports, in work–it's nice to have someone who you can kind of use as an example, and model your life after. And so as I started to really pray about this, I noticed that my existing relationships really shifted.
I started having conversations with people about the gospel that I normally wouldn't have probably talked to about gospel issues. Little things happened, like one of my friends and kind of a larger group of friends sent out a text and said, "Hey, I've been thinking we should have a temple group, wouldn't it–do you guys want to like set aside a day every month to go to the temple together?" And you know, doing things like that totally shifted the kinds of conversations and the bonds that we had. I also was undeniably led and put in the path of women who I deeply admire and respect who absolutely stepped in to mentor me and love me and, and be there as I kind of experienced all of these ups and downs as I really tried to break down and sift through all the questions I had, because that was such a big part of it.
Morgan Jones 35:33
Yeah. What would you say just that you have learned about questions from this experience?
Jess Kettle 35:40
So as I mentioned, questions, were something that I pushed aside very quickly before, because questions–in my mind–were doubts, and they were wrong. But I read a couple of things that really helped me shift my perspective on questions. First was Sheri Dew's book Worth the Wrestle. And second is a BYU talk, called "Stand Forever" by Lawrence Corbridge. Have you heard that one?
Morgan Jones 36:07
Mhm. I love that talk.
Jess Kettle 36:08
Oh, it's my favorite. Which–if anyone is struggling with faith, start there, those two things will give you a really good head start. But in really learning, in really studying those two things, I realized that questions that are asked against the backdrop of faith can be faith affirming. And that questions are good, and that questions don't make you a doubter. They make you a seeker, when you seek for answers, in divine and reliable sources. And when you turn to the Savior with those questions, it's a very different experience than having a worry or a fear in the doubt and turning to the internet to try and find those answers.
Second, Elder Corbridge says at one point in his talk, "I have a lot of questions, but I don't have any doubts." And so that just helped me kind of let go of that negative attachment to questions. Also, Elder Corbridge talks about the importance of primary questions and secondary questions, and the things that were kind of, you know, keeping me up at night were some of those like thorny secondary questions about, you know, maybe Church history or women's issues, or a lot of the things that I think trip up a lot of members of the Church. But what I realized is that I had to spend the time to answer the primary questions before I could find out the answers to those secondary questions.
So I took one day, and I just wrote a bunch of questions in my journal that I needed to know the answers to. And those primary questions were things like, can I practice feeling the Holy Ghost and receiving revelation? Can I understand my spiritual gifts? Can I have a relationship with my Heavenly Parents and with Jesus Christ that feels real and tangible and reliable? Can I find peace in the temple and in the scriptures?
It was those things that were foundational to discipleship that I had to work through first, before I could work through any discomfort with smaller issues. And once you have that part figured out, and once I was able to better understand who I was, half of those secondary questions went away. And the ones that didn't, I had the courage and the faith that I could find answers to those that would bring me closer to the Savior instead of pushing me away from him.
Morgan Jones 38:44
I think that is so spot on. And I love what you said about Worth the Wrestle. Right after I got home from my mission. I had kind of had a shift in my perception of questions at the beginning of my mission. I was like you, I thought questions were like bad. But then when I got home that had kind of shifted, and somebody gave me Sheri Dew's Women in the Priesthood book–
Jess Kettle 39:09
Oh, I love that book.
Morgan Jones 39:10
–And at the very beginning of that book, she also talks about questions and how, you know, it's all about your intent in asking the question. And so, Jess, my last question for you is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Jess Kettle 39:30
I mean, I've gone the rounds with this, and I've sliced and diced it a few different ways. But to me, being all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a choice. And it's choosing Jesus Christ. It's choosing to follow Him, and it's choosing to rely on him. And it's making that choice over and over and over and over again. It's choosing the Savior in your joy and it's choosing the Savior in your sorrow, and it's choosing him when you falter, and you have messed things up, and you feel disconnected and lost. It's choosing to rely on grace, and know that He'll be there to meet you halfway. And it's choosing the peace and the hope that He offers in a world of doubt and fear.
Morgan Jones 40:28
Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. And thank you just for sharing your light with us.
I am so grateful to Jess Kettle for sharing her experience on this week's episode, you can find The Gathering Home which is full of Jesse's beautiful photography in Deseret Book stores now. A huge thank you to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this episode. And thank you so much for listening. We'll be with you again next week.