Misquoting the Savior

“I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it.”

Don’t waste your time looking for the scriptural reference, because Jesus never said it.  What?  How can that be?  I can purchase this lovely picture and quote at Deseret Book – that makes it doctrine, right?

Nope.  He never said it. Either part. I wonder how He feels about being misquoted. Actually, He did say something almost exactly opposite.  That it could be easy.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:29-30

So, as a service to you, I decided to try and figure out where the saying actually came from. There are several possibilities.

1) It is taken from a much larger quote – author unknown:

‘I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it. I never said there wouldn’t be tears, I just promised to be there if there was. I never said it would be true love, I only said you’d know if it was. I never promised it would be forever, I only said to love unconditionally and generously with no recognition of time. I never said to hold on at all costs, I only said one day you’d have to let go and be free. I never said you’d get the rainbow without getting through the rain, I only said the sun is always brighter than the storm. I never said you wouldn’t cry, or feel like your heart had died. I never said you wouldn’t change inside. And if I had, I’d have lied…”

2) It was said by Mae West.  Yup. That Mae West.  (Makes you wonder how many LDS homes display Mae West quotes.)
Good Reads attributes the quote to her on their website.  (link here)

3) The internet Q&A website ChaCha said that it was Moroni quoting Malachi. (here)

Oops!  At least they know who Moroni and Malachi are! Funny how even ChaCha associates the quote with the LDS Church.

Since the search has been somewhat inconclusive. If any of you have absolute knowledge of where this quote came from, let me know. I just no it is being misquoted all over the Church.

I’ll admit, whether Jesus or Mae West said it, it is a reassuring thought. Especially when trying to get through a bumpy night.


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  2. Hello My name is Jerry. Like this stuff. I always have felt the same way about this topic. I don’t believe that it is hard to follow the Gospel and live the Gospel, yet I do believe that it is simply mans own fault, as it reads, ” the natural man is a enemy to God”. We must shed this natural man. What are our desires? , and where is our action following good desires? It is not that it is hard, but that we make it difficult because of the natural man inside of us. Who are we feeding , the natural man or the spiritual man, whichever we feed will surely win. What is so hard about reading scriptures, praying, being of service, being honest, doing temple work, etc. etc. etc. There are simply to many distractions in the world and if we choose them , then yes, it may seem as though it is hard. Satan does not tell us not to do it, just to do it tomorrow. This world is so hung up on entertainment and technology, that these things literally take us over. Should have never invented the couch and the TV. I am not saying that entertainment is all bad but todays entertainment has people simply overwhelmed by it. If someone is working at Walmart and doing a good job and the best they can and living the gospel, than why do people look as this type of life not as successful as someone who might be a football player, actor, doctor, etc. It simply is not so. If it were so than I suppose that all of the early apostles , in the new testament days were simply unsuccessful, as the world would see it. Simply put, the gospel is not hard, we just don’t have our house in order. I have one for you to research as you did this quote, ” Everything done in moderation”. Simply drives me nuts. I believe this is used as a scape goat. Just as ” Family First” is used as a scapegoat. It is true when used correctly. Just like today in Elders Quorum, Discussion was on how ” hard ” it is to keep covenants, live the gospel, and what is contained in doing so. My comment was it is not that it is all hard but that we have way to much entertainment/distractions in todays world and we fall into them, of course the first comment that came out of the teacher was, ” everything in moderation”. Sure, whatever. I have been the Ward Mission leader in my Ward for 5 years and I can tell you this, and that is that all members in our ward, myself included, sure must be moderating a little to much on the entertainment side of it all. Do we even realize how hard it is to get the Missionaries calendar full for meals, or to get someone to go out with them , or the biggest one, wait for it, the percentage of people actually doing their home teaching. I sup[pose 98% of the Elders Quorum is stuck in the moderation thing. Or Family First. PLEASE. I am not trying to be hard on anyone, but these are what they are, and we sugar coat them way to much. I have even heard a General Authority say, ” what makes us think we are going to the celestial kingdom if we are not doing are home teaching. Anyways, help me out here on the ” Everything in Moderation”. Sure like what you wrote here, Good Stuff. Brother Wagemann.

  3. What? There are no quote marks around this phrase. I didn’t think anybody actually thought it was a QUOTE haha! Who would think that? It’s obviously not a Bible verse! I always just thought it was a nice sentiment next to His picture, of an idea that He often implied. Of course He never said those words…! I don’t think it was ever meant to imply that this was a direct quote of any sort.

    1. Perhaps it is obvious to you, but everyone is not so astute. Actually, this all began when more than one kid in a class I was teaching mentioned this as one of their favorite things Jesus said – and they all had this picture in their house. The implication is obvious when you put the phrase “I never said” over a picture of him.

  4. I am a RM and know this isn’t scriptural. I also understand your point of view. I just want to add that I love the quote because of what it implies. Christ’s yoke is easy yes. But this life isn’t. And it was never meant to be. If it was it would be a type of heaven in itself. This life can’t be heaven. We would never grow. It will be worth it to take Christs yoke upon us. It will be worth it to go through the hard to get to the light. So in a sense (although it is not scriptural or doctrine [doctrine being faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end]) it still has significance. I agree it’s wrong to misquote, but it is good and drives people toward the good. I see no problem with anything that draws people out of the dark and motivates them toward the light.

    Alma 5:
    40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.

  5. You mean there are people out there who really thought this was a biblical quote? I love the saying, but I haven’t heard anyone claim that these are actually the Savior’s words. It’s just a spiritual thought and a really good one. I have a picture with the savior and the words “If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep. Talk to the shepherd.” I’ve seen the picture and saying in other homes as well. Just because the words are in a frame with a picture of Christ doesn’t mean that I or anyone else believes or thinks that Christ actually said those things. It’s just a nice spiritual thought, and I BELIEVE SOME OF YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING. IT IS NOT A MORMON MYTH THAT THE SAVIOR SAID THESE WORDS. IT JUST MAKES FOR A GREAT WALL DECORATION OF THE LORD THAT INCLUDES A GREAT SPIRITUAL THOUGHT. Never have I ever been told or taught that these are the Savior’s words, nor have I ever seen them in the Bible, Book of Mormon, or D&C, which I have read numerous times. Anyone who has read the scriptures should know that these are not the Savior’s words.

    1. Except the simple fact that what you call a “really good” saying is actually as close to the opposite of what the Savior taught. If you are looking for cutesy sayings to put on the wall, at least find one that is doctrinally accurate. Or, why not just use Jesus actual words instead of making them up?

  6. Even though He didn’t say it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been life changing. There was a time when I was really depressed and didn’t want to hear the word spirit again. I happened by a Christian store that sold that picture and It helped me to continue on my journey. Later when I had a store, I had it displayed and a gentleman came in and couldn’t take his eyes off the picture. He told me that when he was in the navy, he was about to jump overboard and just as he was stepping over, he actually heard those words. There wasn’t anybody there. Even though the picture wasn’t for sale, I let him purchase it. How could I not? It may not be directly from Him, but it has and does inspire me and others.

  7. Spreading negative energy is sad it’s a great saying and I never thought is was a true quote just helps with the spirit, love it anyway

  8. I had to laugh reading this one. I think Deseret Book should sell that picture of Mae West with the quote. Skinny cigarette and all.

  9. I came across this old discussion and just had to add something: I don’t think people need to get all excited or offended that Jesus never said this exact quote in the scriptures. This is simply a paraphrase of a number of different scriptures, the most prominent being 3 Nephi 15:9 – “Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.”

    1. I would hope nobody is excited or offended. I was just enjoying the irony that people take a quote from Mae West and misapply it to contradict the Savior’s actual teachings.

  10. It doesn’t necessarily say it’s quoted by Jesus, it is only implied (with a STRONG implication). That being said, this quote bothers me; not because it’s implied that Jesus said it, but rather because I don’t agree with it. I find the things in life most “worth it” are actually the easiest. I also have found that this quote (whoever created it) LIMITS a person’s perspective. For the longest time growing up in the Mormon church, I felt like EVERYTHING had to be HARD, especially the GREATEST things. But why? Once I questioned that & had the opposite perspective, suddenly, everything in my life became EASY AND WORTH IT.

    Thanks for this blog…I felt like the only one who was bothered by this quote.

  11. The earliest recorded quote from lds.org shows it from an article by Walter Swan in 1986


    Which could have been a rephrasing of Spencer W Kimball in 1977 when he said “The Lord never promised an easy road, nor a simple gospel, nor low standards, nor a low norm. The price is high, but the goods attained are worth all they cost.”


    Makes since as Spencer W Kimball was president when the church membership spiked. Many connect their first experiences with the gospel to him.

    lds.org doesn’t go back any further than 1970..

  12. THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS! Really and truly. I cringe when I hear that over the pulpit and I think that Sacrament talks should be screened for that very reason. 🙂
    I have often “corrected” that quote…so we are on the same page.

    Some of our more “colorful” moments in Sacrament meeting: A dear sister brought out a large container of bubble gum, blew some bubbles for effect, and promised a gumball to each kid who could quote her talk after church.

    Another? Poor sister missionary shared very graphic details of how her son was killed…with a chainsaw…and how they had to wait for the police to gather enough of his remains to bury him.

    Bishops need a “censor” button…or access to the microphone volume in an instant. 🙂

  13. I didn’t even realize that anyone thought it was a scriptural quote. It doesn’t sound like scripture. I always thought it was just a comforting idea of how Christ might reassure us if He were to speak to us. Someone said it. Probably more than one person. I don’t understand why this is such an issue.

    Quite frankly, anyone who is looking for the footprints in the sand story in the scriptures, obviously doesn’t even read their scriptures. None of these things sound scriptural at all.

  14. There’s a similar one that is rampant in Spanish (well, at least in Ecuador and in Mexico City, where I and my husband served our missions, respectively): “Ayúdate, y yo te ayudaré”. It means “Help yourself, and I will help you.”
    First of all, it’s kind of a lame saying. Second of all, despite the numerous people who claim otherwise, Jesus never said that.
    So funny.

    1. I’m so late to this party, please forgive my necromantic posting…

      That “verse” exists here in the United States, too, which isn’t surprising since it was attributed to Benjamin Franklin and can be found his work, “Poor Richard’s Almanac”:

      “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”

      A very American ethos of self-reliance, but little to no Christ.


  15. Very interesting. I think people like this quote because life is often bumpy and there are plenty of hard days. They use this to help pull themself though.

    As for whether or not this is a quote from Christ, He did not say this word for word but many scriptures convey this idea. Example 1 in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:10-12): The idea conveyed is that it will not be easy, you will be reviled, etc., if you are a true disciple, but you will reap your reward in heaven (it will be worth it).

    Also important to note when scrutinizing this quote is that there are 2 “it”s. In other words it can apply to many people in many different circumstances to help them.

    In conclusion, Christ didn’t say this word for word but the idea was conveyed and recorded in Matthew 5:10-12, and it will help people’s lives and help them keep doing the very best they can.

  16. Bruce, Brother: Welcome to the party – finally! I complement you on marrying such a smart wife.

    I have stayed away from the “Mormon Moment” per se, because I think we have been having one since about 1830.

  17. OK, I am finally digging into the archives because my wife, Christy (who has a crush on your blog), said you had already blogged about the “Mormon Moment” and so I had to check and make sure I hadn’t inadvertently plagiarized. (I did find a reference or two to “Mormon Moment” but so far nothing super close to what I wrote.)

    So I just had to comment on this one because HOLY SCHNIKES I get disgusted every time I see that picture. I feel like taking a sharpie to it every time and posting “Matt 11:29-30” — exactly as you mention above. They even had it hanging in the MTC in the early 90s when I was a missionary. (I am sure my memory is faulty but I think it was three feet over from the mirror with the “true” picture of Christ next to it featuring this guilt-inducing gem: “The Savior has done His part. Are you doing yours?” Of course, since that mirror/picture was hanging about every ten yards or so, I’m probably not far off the mark.)

    Rant over. Now I’m off to comment on the President Uchtdorf post to make sure Mae West doesn’t sneak up on him…

  18. I just read this to my husband, we are now getting a picture of Christ at the gates of heaven…the quote is: “why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”

  19. Very late to this party but…hysterical. “In the doghouse” had practically my exact reaction. Could you do an expose’ on the “someday when you get to heaven people will bow when you walk by and whisper their feelings of awe that YOU were saved for the last days, to be on the earth with Gordon B. Hinkley etc….”? Or the variations of that “quote”.

  20. Out of everything anybody ever says to me, you can be assured that this ‘quote’ drives me nuts!! Any chance of being able to share this on FB to get the message across??

  21. sure! i would love to. so much so that i found a hard copy and scanned it for you since my college days were long long ago in the land of floppy disks. 🙂 i am not quite as middle aged as you are, but close. your email address?

  22. Newcomer here and I love it. We are of the same mind… I take the gospel very seriously, but hopefully not life. That being said, i wrote an entire 12 page paper on this misquote in college because it drove me so nuts!! 🙂

  23. Thanks for addressing this mis-quote. It drives me crazy that everyone thinks it is scriptural. For the longest time I have joked about this and said it just needs to be shortened to say “I didn’t say it”

  24. Ha ha! Another Mormon myth debunked. Actually I thought it was Steve Martin that said it after he was baptised in the early 80’s

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