Messages of inspiration from former Notre Dame and NFL linebacker Manti Te’o were featured Sunday on social media by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
His three messages and photos, posted on the church’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, focused on overcoming adversity, forgiveness and how Te’o learned to find inner peace.
Te’o, a member of the Latter-day Saint faith, was a Heisman Trophy candidate and star linebacker for Notre Dame before he became the center of a media firestorm in 2013 when it was revealed that his deceased girlfriend did not exist but was actually a social media creation.
Te’o recently told his version of events in a Netflix documentary, “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.”
Te’o’s first spiritual message centered on dealing with life’s trials and learning to trust in God.
“There’s this term called the ‘refiner’s fire,’ and life seems to continually be that for everyone,” he wrote. “When I go through difficult times and trials, I smile because I understand what that fire is and that Heavenly Father is molding me right now. He allows the heat to increase so that I can be shaped into whom I need to become. I learned that I needed to trust God, continue doing the best I could and allow him to carry me. I started to see how I could be an instrument in his hands to do the things he needed me to do. I don’t know why things happen. But I must have faith. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but I need to be patient. I can’t always control what happens, but I can control how I react and always try to be a positive light and good influence on others.”
‘Forgiveness has been a process’
In his second message, Te’o write that “Forgiveness has been a process for me.” He found answers in learning and following the Savior’s example.
“I’ve learned that to regain a level of peace, I have to let things go,” he wrote. “A lot of us are carrying around burdens in the form of anger and revenge which at times can lead us to a dark place. I was feeling this and was desperate to find peace. I was always taught to forgive, but I knew this would be difficult. … Once I learned to forgive, all the feelings of anger and revenge were lifted, and I found true peace.”
Finding peace in Christ
Now married and the parent of a young daughter, Te’o has found new perspective on how God watches over his children in their struggles and how he helps them grow.
Te’o has learned that the only way to find peace in this life is by keeping the commandments and following Jesus Christ.
“The gospel in its purest form gave me peace to navigate through the challenges I went through and continue to go through today. That peace that comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the only thing that helped me at my lowest and at my highest,” Te’o wrote.
“It is my testimony that this peace is something that this world and all it has to offer could never give me. The peace that only comes from the atoning sacrifice of the Savior is what saved me.”