As a child in elementary school I had very illegible handwriting—and I still do. Dextral coordination has never been my strong suit. I could not draw a straight line to save my soul, and the idea of drawing a perfect circle was beyond my wildest dreams. One day my teacher gave me a compass. It was a simple instrument with a sharp point on one leg and a pencil secured at the tip of the other. She showed me that by planting the pointed leg firmly and stretching out with the other leg, I could draw a perfect circle. I was spellbound by my newly acquired talent and merrily went around drawing circles on everything I could find. There was something magical in extending that movable foot out as far as it could reach and drawing the largest circle I could. I did not realize at that time what an important lesson about life I was being taught—a lesson that would in many ways define who I would become and how I would think. As I grew I was taught how to draw another circle by a divine teacher, one that encompassed truth, beauty, and goodness. This spiritual compass also has two feet—one I call “the fixed foot,” and the other, “the searching foot.” We all have this spiritual compass.
As an LDS boy, I had heard numerous testimonies proclaiming, “I know this Church is true.” I never doubted this; I maintain my boyhood faith to this day, but I think I assumed when I heard or said these words that truth was one, and it was ours. It took a good measure of spiritual maturity for me to realize that the great question of mortality was not really to find the one true church among all the false ones; rather it was to discover where truth and goodness and beauty had reached their most mature form and plant my fixed foot there. That is the critical starting point: Where will we place the fixed foot of our life’s compass? There can be no true or complete circle without a center.
Having studied most religions, philosophies, and approaches to life, I believe and I affirm that truth and goodness and beauty in their most mature form are found in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. I do not believe you can find higher peaks in the mountain range of religion than the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, or the Sermon on the Mount. This is velvet truth! There is a deep intuitive knowledge of God contained therein. Furthermore, I believe that the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the best lens with which to understand, apply, and internalize our Savior’s life, teachings, and mercy—and the most secure pathway to happiness. Here I will place the fixed foot of my compass. One of the last gifts my wife gave me before she passed away was a golden navigator’s compass, because she knew how much it represented my approach to life and learning. On one foot she had the words “Firmly Planted!” engraved. Then, in a gesture of love, graciousness, and touching compliment, she had my own name engraved on the searching foot.