Relief Society Lesson 7: Personal Testimony

From Lynnette at Zelophehad’s Daughters

Main Points from the Manual

  1. President Kimball explained in a letter to his son that when you testify of truth, the Spirit is revealing it unto you. Don’t quench the Spirit.
  2. Peter found out that Jesus is the Christ through revelation, and everyone can have a similar witness.
  3. Study is important in gaining a testimony, but it must come from the Spirit.
  4. A testimony is available to anyone who will pay the price for it. The requirements are to study, think, pray, and do.
  5. In order to have a knowledge of the doctrine, you must live it.
  6. A testimony needs to be fed to keep it alive. This includes bearing it. This is why testimony meetings are important.
  7. A testimony is a simple statement of faith. Don’t worry about using familiar phrases. Don’t preach; say how you feel.

Thoughts/Questions

–In President Kimball’s letter to his son, he said: “I am sure that you (like I did) have countless golden threads of testimony all through your being only waiting for the hand of the Master Weaver to assemble and weave them into a tapestry of exquisite and perfect design.” I like the idea that a testimony is made of many different threads instead of just being one single thing. What might those threads include?

–Many people (including myself!) struggle with the word “know.” Could it help to think about different ways we use the term? For example, knowing how to ride a bike, knowing my sister, and knowing a fact about the American Revolution are all different kinds of knowing. What does it mean to you to “know” that the Church is true?

–What if you have put in effort, prayed and studied and all of that, and nothing seems to have happened? Have there been times in your life when you’ve sought after God but have felt spiritually distant anyway? How have you made sense of that? What has kept you going?

–Growing up in the Church, I sometimes found the concept of “testimony” confusing; it sounded a bit like some kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo. So I’ve personally found it helpful to think of it simply in terms of the experiences I’ve had with God in my life (rather than knowledge about abstract concepts or ideas). What aspects of gaining a testimony have been challenging for you? What are your thoughts on what a testimony is?

–Why does it matter that we bear our testimonies? (President Kimball comments, “Tell the Lord frequently how much you love him.” I like the framework that suggests, that a testimony is about a relationship with God, and just as our relationships with other people suffer if we don’t express our feelings for them, the same can happen in our relationship with God.)

–Why do we have testimony meetings? Do you participate? What are the factors that can make sharing your testimony difficult?

–What is the relationship between knowledge and action? Is your testimony less genuine if you aren’t actually living the gospel (but then– none of us are completely living the gospel)? What does it really mean, in the book of Mosiah’s famous phrase, “to stand as witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death”?

Additional Quotes

“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” (Alma 32:27)

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

“Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

“The point I’m making about listening to the Spirit is this. We sometimes think that the hard part of listening to the Spirit is to persuade the Spirit to talk to us. That’s absolutely not true. The Spirit is on call and fully available twenty-four hours a day. It whispers continuously as the “still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things.” (D&C 85:6) It’s a persistent voice. It’s always available either for a direct question or a thorough, open-end exploration. But because it is both still and small, it can be drowned out by the hiss and buzz and static of our hurried, distracted lives. The problem isn’t that the Spirit isn’t talking. The problem is that we aren’t listening.” (Chieko Okazaki, Being Enough, 73)

“Testifying of Christ is not one more burden to be added to your already heavy load. It’s not another link in the chain that attaches you to an enormous weight on your ankle that you’re trying to drag around. Testifying of Christ is your simple, honest acknowledgement of the role he plays in your life, the source of strength that he is to you, the joy in the Spirit that you feel, the confirmation that comes from prayer, and the trust you feel, even in adversity, that things will work out for the best because he is there blessing you. Christ lifts you on the wings of eagles by filling you with his own love—his love for you and for the people around you.” (Chieko Okazaki, Disciples, 10)

“Seek for a testimony, as you would, my dear sisters, for a diamond concealed. If someone told you by digging long enough in a certain spot you would find a diamond of unmeasured wealth, do you think you would begrudge time or strength or means spent to obtain that treasure? Then I will tell you that if you will dig in the depths of your own hearts you will find with the aid of the Spirit of the Lord, the pearl of great price, the testimony of the truth of this work.” (Zina Diantha Huntington Young, RS pres 1888-1901, quoted in Ensign March 1992 p. 8)

“The admonition to ‘come unto Christ’ is the hub around which everything in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and thus the Relief Society, revolves—and for good reason. The verb come implies action on our part. In the familiar New Testament passage about the hereafter in which many plead their case with the Lord by listing all of their good deeds, Christ responds, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of that same passage, however, notes a profound distinction—“[You] never knew me” (JST, Matt. 7:33; emphasis added)—placing responsibility for coming unto the Savior squarely upon our shoulders. Jesus Christ Himself has promised, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (D&C 88:63). There are no disclaimers or exceptions in His invitation. We are the ones who determine whether or not we will come unto Him. The drawing near, seeking, asking, and knocking are up to us. And the more we know about the Lord—meaning the more we experience His mercy, devotion, and willingness to guide us even when we may not feel worthy of His direction—the more confident we become that He will respond to our petitions.” (Sheri Dew, “Are You the Woman I Think You Are?” Ensign November 1997)

Deborah

Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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  1. Caroline says:

    Lynnette,
    Awesome! This was so much fun to read through.

    Like you, one thing I like to think about when it comes to testimony is that it’s not an all or nothing thing. I’m always uncomfortable with rhetoric that makes it seem like “testimony” is monolithic. I think it may be helpful for some to think about what aspects of the gospel they have a personal conviction of and which ones they don’t. And to realize that there’s a big range among active members on the spectrum.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post and the insight it contains! I am not a spiritual giant but have been called to teach Relief Society with this being my first lesson. I came to the conclusion I was called precisely because I’m not a spiritual giant. 80% of us aren’t. Your insights will help me as I try to teach the more average LDS women like myself that it’s okay to move forward slowly, as long as you’re moving forward. Thank you!

  3. holli jo says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I teach R.S., and it is helpful to get someone elses ideas and thoughts as I prepare my lesson.

    So, thank you.

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