Jess Kettle grew up in the Church. She always found joy in her faith and loved being a member, but when people she loved and trusted began to turn away from the Church, she began to experience anxiety regarding her faith. A young mother, she decided to go for a drive one night after her kids were in bed.
“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,’” Jess Kettle said on this week’s All In podcast.
In the talk, President Russell M. Nelson gave sisters four invitations: 1. Participate in a 10-day social media fast. 2. Read the Book of Mormon. 3. Establish a pattern of regular temple attendance and 4. Participate in Relief Society. Kettle decided to accept these invitations and deliberately focused on working to develop her faith.
Previously, Kettle had never read the Book of Mormon cover to cover because she was “petrified of. . . getting to the end and asking if it was true and not feeling something.”
Read the excerpt below to find out what happened when Kettle got to the end of the book. You can also listen to the full episode in the player below or by clicking here. You can also read a full transcript here.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones: What did you find when you made it to the end of the Book of Mormon and prayed about it?
Jess Kettle: So, I think this is a little bit like when you decide that you want to get in shape, and it turns out that eating healthy food and moving your body [does] makes you fit. Like, it's not rocket science. The 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, [more] than I ever had before. As I really committed to experimenting upon the word, I felt like I experienced just this beautiful string of miracle after miracle. And it shocked me. It shocked me that I could, be on my knees, in tears, 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. I learned that for me that the Holy Ghost feels like a lightbulb moment—you know, like in 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—Doctrine and Covenants 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."
I read that and I kind of thought, okay, Heavenly Father, game on. I'm going to show up, and I feel like you're promising me that you're going to meet me halfway. To take those tiny . . . steps towards Him felt so vulnerable. And not that it wasn't hard, and not that it happened easily. I don't want to say that 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— almost commonplace. But to me, each of those little experiences, whether it was 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 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 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 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 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 by experimenting upon those promises and blessings they were self-evident.