I’ve had a hard time deciding what to write for this post. I had some idea for it, which I’ve forgotten now because I’ve spent the last several days thinking that I needed to change the topic. And now I’m writing this a little more last-minute than I’d like.
See, a friend of mine from high school passed away this week. I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about it here, and I’m not going to get very detailed about it, but I needed to share this to give you some context for what I’m writing about in the rest of this post.
This friend’s death has made the last few days hard and inspiring at the same time. So many people expressed their shock and sadness about his passing and so many shared stories of how he touched their lives in positive and wonderful ways.
Something that really surprised me, though, was how much peace I felt as I processed this friend’s death. I was still sad. It didn’t make accepting his death easy. But as I looked at the gospel, at all the things I say I believe – that there is life after death, that we are eternal beings, that God loves us and is aware of us in every moment – I found that I could still say, without doubt or anger, that I still believed those things.
That alone was strengthening. Knowing that I could turn to God in faith brought the peace I needed.
But today during church, that peace and love reached an even greater point.
Today my ward had their fast and testimony meeting. My ward is great; so many people are willing to stand up and share their testimonies, and let me tell you, their testimonies are powerful.
I especially appreciated that today. I did share my own testimony, and that helped me feel so much love from the Holy Spirit, but it was the testimonies that followed that really strengthened me today.
A friend of mine in this ward also knows my friend who died. She stood up and shared her testimony right after I did, and to hear her build on the same things I testified of lifted and comforted me more than I could have expected.
One thing she said that really stood out to me was that she’d felt an “unrivaled peace” throughout the week. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but as soon as she said it, I knew she was right. That was the same thing I had experienced throughout the week as well.
Everyone else who shared their testimonies in that meeting each said something that built my testimony and strengthened my faith and conviction. That the gospel gives us real hope. That we can move on and face the future with faith. That we each matter so much to God.
Thinking about that, I decided that I needed to talk to all of you about this as well. Sharing testimony, whether it is accepted or not, whether it’s spoken or exemplified, every single testimony has a purpose and power behind it. And we need to share those testimonies.
Testimonies Build on Each Other
No testimony is built in isolation. As much as we might think otherwise, we need each other to strengthen our own faith. Are there things we can do on our own to strengthen our testimonies? Of course there are. Reading the scriptures and praying can both be done alone, and they are helpful for us.
But I’m sure you’ve also experienced times when you’ve discussed things that you’ve read about or prayed about with other people and found that you learned more in the discussion than you did on your own. Or that a prayer that someone else gave when you were present softened your heart more than your own prayers had.
Our understanding of the gospel, of Christ, of our Father, increases more when we learn with others around us than it does when we are alone.
And hearing the testimonies of others, seeing those testimonies in action, build our testimonies so much more than isolation does. And having the opportunity to share the gospel with other people so you can strengthen them has equal power in our lives.
I don’t know how many testimonies have combined their power to build my testimony. I can think of many people who had positive spiritual influences on me and helped me become stronger.
We need each other. The gospel isn’t a physical entity that can teach itself. Rather, the gospel is carried to the world through God’s imperfect but progressing children.
Not one of us feels perfectly qualified to share the gospel with other people. I’m sure all of us feel our shortcomings and weaknesses all too well when opportunities to testify are given to us. But God doesn’t ask perfectly qualified people to share the gospel.
He asks us to do it.
Don’t Underestimate Yourself
Another member of my ward shared something in his testimony that also impressed me today. He said that people rarely realize the power of their simple testimonies. They don’t give their faith the credit it deserves.
Our testimonies speak to others in ways we never expect.
Recently, I heard an experience from a couple I know well. I won’t say who because I know they’d be embarrassed to be mentioned like this, so I’ll leave them their anonymity. We’ll just call them Anna and Joe for the sake of clarity.
Anna was told by an acquaintance that at a recent ward/neighborhood party, a woman who was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints showed up at the party. This acquaintance of Anna’s talked to the woman and asked her how she had had the courage to come to this party where she was in the religious minority.
This woman told Anna’s acquaintance that she came because of the example of a man she knew at work. The man was kind and accepting of many people, and his example had convinced her to give other members of the Church a chance. She also told Anna’s acquaintance that if she ever were to join any church, it would be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, simply because of the example of this man she worked with.
Anna’s acquaintance then told Anna that the man who had set the example for that woman was Anna’s husband, Joe. Anna, amazed, shared this experience with her husband, and later, to me.
Anna said that she sometimes feels she doesn’t do enough to share the gospel. But hearing how Joe had been able to share it through his actions and example at work, Anna felt that her actions and choices to live the gospel had more purpose.
It doesn’t take much to share the gospel. Just living what you believe, no matter where you are, can make all the difference. And speaking up when you can is just as powerful.
Next week, we’ll have the opportunity to hear the testimonies of many leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please take the opportunity to listen and let their testimonies build yours. Then, when you have the chance, share your testimony as well.
And don’t forget to check out the free General Conference Study Book I’ve put together. You can access it through the menu in the top left corner of your screen. And join us in watching General Conference next Saturday and Sunday here.
Thank you to everyone who has shared their testimonies with me. You’ve strengthened me more than you know.