I have had some things on my mind lately about testimony. By testimony I mean the conviction one has to his or her spiritual beliefs that is given to them from a heavenly source. You see I have a very strong and firmly planted testimony of God and his Son Jesus Christ, of the reality of their existence and their love for us. My testimony of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is rock solid. I simply have had personal experience with both the cleansing and the healing power of the Atonement that have made my belief unshakable.
I also have an equally firm and deep testimony of the reality of the First Vision when Joseph Smith prayed to know which church to join and was answered with a personal visitation by God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I have felt a powerful witness from the Spirit of the Lord that this did in reality take place as Joseph said it did on more than one occasion. I have also felt that same witness that the Book of Mormon is a true book of scripture and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ's restored church on the Earth today.
But my thoughts on testimony lately have been about how frustrating it is not to be able to GIVE a testimony to someone. All you can do is bare your testimony or share what you believe and why. But sharing your beliefs does not mean that those with whom you share will believe as you do. Testimonies don't come that way. They only really come when people feel God telling them what is true. And for that to come they have to be seeking and open to feeling.
Still God can let people feel that what someone is saying is true when they are hearing it or reading it. I know that. And more than anything, I want so much for my children to know for themselves the truths I know. So tonight before bedtime we held our own little "testimony" meeting.
I began by telling the girls (we had already put a rambunctious Noble to bed) about the parable of the 10 virgins and how in reading it I always felt like the 5 with oil should have shared. Then I explained that in that parable the oil represents something that the 5 virgins COULDN'T give to the others. One thing it can represent is a testimony. After explaining what a testimony is I explained that it is like the oil in the lamp because it really does "light your way" through the world.
I told them that I had lots of that kind of oil in my lamp because I was REALLY old :) and had been gathering it over many years. They on the other hand were young and may not have as much oil of their own yet. I emphasized how important it is to gather your own oil and told them that while they are gathering their own "testimony" oil that they should walk in the light of mine.
Then I told them what I knew to be true and how that knowledge came to me. I shared highly personal spiritual experiences with them and the room was thick with the Spirit. After I was done, I invited each of them to share what they believed and asked them why they believed those things. I wanted to know if they were just parroting what I had said or if they had some basis for believing the things they said other that just believing me.
The younger girls went first and mostly it was simply a time for them to share a time they got an answer to a prayer. Then Sabrina got up. She almost could not speak. She was feeling the Spirit speaking to her right then and she shared a very short but powerful witness of what it was telling her. Jonathan concluded our little meeting with his own witness of the things he knew to be true.
It was one of the most choice experiences I have had with my girls. For hours afterward, Lauren kept talking about how much she loved sharing our testimonies together because it felt so good inside. In her own 5 year old way she too was feeling the Spirit whispering to her soul the peace and happiness of Truth being taught to her soul and the familiar ring it had. She spoke many truths in these hours after our meeting, some profound and others quite funny (like that she wanted to keep sharing testimonies forever because ... "well because I like to talk.") Annie too showed in her own way that she felt the change in the spiritual atmosphere. She may not have been as "verbal" as Lauren or as teary as Sabrina but her demeanor changed and love was just oozing out of her.
In our modern times with so many distractions around us all the time, it is easy to forget how important it is to share our knowledge and beliefs on the things most important in life with our children. Whatever YOUR beliefs are, whatever knowledge you have gained that has been most beneficial to your life, share it with your children. Find a time. Make a time. And light the way for them as much as you can but sharing what you believe and know to be true. You may find the experience to be one of the highlights of your parenting.