By unfortunate circumstance, our sacrament meeting today became rather disjointed. Originally, a couple had been scheduled to speak – I believe they are stake missionaries – but a miscommunication had them attending the 1pm ward rather than our 9am ward. Our bishop sought to correct the matter by asking three brothers in our ward to bear their testimonies.
For having no forewarning, these gentlemen were remarkably prepared. Each gave 5-10 minutes worth of church history, personal experiences, spiritual anecdotes and charges for individual improvement. While their content was varied and rich, I found myself remorseful. I really wanted to hear their pure, simplistic testimonies of the reality of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
In some wards that I have attended, it seems there is a distaste for children who saunter forward to bear their testimonies on Fast Sunday. I understand this to a degree. Young children who must be accompanied by parents and whispered words of testimony are probably too young to participate. However, when a covenant 8-year-old steps up to utter soft words about how they know the church is true; how their family is a loving, eternal one; how they recognize themselves as beloved children of God, my soul feels strengthened. This is pure testimony.
As missionaries, we are instructed to bear frequent, powerful testimony of the doctrine and principles that we have come to know. One of the reasons for this that it is impossible to refute someone’s testimony. While church doctrine may be tarnished, interpretations may be varied and exhortations may be miscommunicated, no one can respond to untainted and whole testimony. No one can viably say, “You do not know such things; you must not believe that”. Even the most hard-hearted individuals cannot but concede the accuracy of such a bold statement.
It seems to be church culture the testimonies should evolve to more “sophisticated” content the older a member gets. As a child, I thought that if I could add stories and long gratitude lists that I would be bearing an “adult” testimony. LDS.org explains:
A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.
These truths, so simple and sweet, are the very ones that bolster our budding stores of known truth. As we bear our testimonies, they grow in magnitude and in strength. We need not underestimate our fragilely constructed knowledge and belief – for it is the one thing we may offer that cannot be defamed and diminished by another’s beliefs. The power granted to the Holy Ghost when we bear testimony is unparalleled in its ability to touch and change hearts.
While the experiences of our lives and the gratitude of our hearts should be expressed frankly in certain settings, I plead that we reserve testimony meeting for pure testimony. In a world evermore polluted by false ideologies and secularism, we need the commonwealth of knowledge that comes from knowing that others think and belief as we do. We need the statements – unfiltered, unaltered and un-fluffed – that uplift our souls, clear our vision, and collectively bring us closer to our Father in Heaven and our Savior.
I know that every testimony – regardless of its age, status, depth, evidence or specificity – has value to the members of the Kingdom of God. I know that God is the literal Father of our spirits, that He sent us here with the desire that we may become more like Him and that we would return to be with Him again. I know that He created a perfect plan not just for his collective children but for all his children individually, that would give us each the best chance of meeting our earthly goals. I know that we all play important and potentially influential roles in each others’ lives. Bearing our testimonies is one of the ways that we can bless and impart hope to our brothers and sisters as we endure the various circumstances of mortality.
Let us all display the faith and courage to share simple, pure testimony with one another that we may collectively hold to the truth of the gospel in an everchanging world, and live worthy to be with our Father and Savior once more.