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Thursday, May 12, 2005 

Testimony on Repeat

“I’d like to bear my testimony. I know the church is true. I love my mom and dad. I’m thankful for the prophet…"

Sound familiar? Well, of course it does if you’ve spent any amount of time in Primary on Fast Sunday…or really at any Fast and Testimony meeting. It’s the old stand-by. It is somewhat expected. But do members of the church rely on repetition and “the standard” testimony? Do they take the standard testimony, dress it up and make it their own? I’d say a good many members do. There was a youth leader in our stake that would often bear their testimony and say, “if you can’t seem to find your testimony, that’s okay…you can borrow mine.” While that is lovely of that person to want to share, doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

In the May 1975 Ensign, O. Leslie Stone wrote, “To a Latter-day Saint, a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel is the most precious possession he can have. It cannot be purchased. No one can give it to him. It can only be secured by prayer, by study, by faith, by repentance, by righteous living, and by listening to others bearing their testimonies, and through the manifestation of the Holy Ghost.

If we have a testimony of the gospel, we know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and our Redeemer. We know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. We know that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is indeed a second witness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel is the motivating force that helps us live the commandments and carry out our responsibilities.”

My experience with testimony meetings (and I’ll admit I haven’t been to very many in the past few years) is that there are too few people that actually bear a testimony that fall into the description by Elder Stone, above. There are some Sundays that feel more like Group Therapy than a testimony meeting. You almost want to answer back with “and how does that make you feel?” or something of the like. You start to feel like you should be getting paid for listening to those folks. (Especially because they did take the entire hour.) But then maybe there are just things for folks in the congregation to learn…like patience, understanding, acceptance, etc. Maybe there needs to be more of that, too.

But I must note, for the record, that I am totally against the singing testimonies...that’s just wrong. ;)

Whatever... You LOVE the singing testimony... it's your favorite.

I agree that often testimony meeting feels more like therapy than a religious thing (and I know about therapy, thank you very much.) Really, that's why I started calling it Starve and Tell Your Story day. People tell stories instead of bare their testimony. There is one gal in my singles ward who gets up monthly and weeps openly as she takes us step by step through the happenings of her life since the LAST time she bore her testimony. Sure, she wraps it up with a little bit about how thankful she is that God had brought her through the trials of working part time at a flower shop with non-members (GASP!) but there has never once been an ounce of testimony as described by Elder Stone. And really, that is just kind of sad to me.

Look who did her research!

I think that more people need to be reminded that the time at the pulpit is to bear testimony of Jesus Christ.

I recently heard someone bear their testimony about a book she read. FICTION!

Was it the Book of Mormon? I am just kidding, I couldn't resist.

It makes me CRAZY when people get up to bear their testimony of an LDS historical fiction novel (The Work and the Glory, etc.) I don't know, it just seems wrong. "I just really feel like I now know Joseph Smith personally now...blah, blah, blah".

I must mention, however, that the main determining factor for my husband and I deciding to live where we did was because of an exceptional fast and testimony meeting we attended. After hearing one after another appropriate, heartfelt, strong testimonies - we felt the spirit so strong - we really wanted to be a part of that ward! And here we are. And these people ARE every bit as wonderful as we thought they would be. So, here's the point: testimony meetings can serve a very useful function in determining where to live, if a choice has to be made.

Well, you could always go up to explain what a testimony is verbatim, and then express your thankfulness that modern revelation has allotted the first Sunday of the month's sacrament for fast and testimony meeting. Follow that with a firm testimony of your beliefs and watch the meeting change a bit. It has happened to me before while I was serving my mission - it could be applied here!

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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