Too often we forget to take every opportunity to bare our testimonies to our children. And what could be more important? You may have noticed that at the end of each lesson I prompt parents to bare testimony. But sometimes people feel slightly awkward doing so in a home setting.
I trained missionaries while on my mission and church groups since returning home on how exactly to bare an effective testimony. I thought I would share some tips with my readers. Please keep in mind that these are only my opinions and suggestions.
As members of this church we hear a variety of testimonies, delivered in a variety of ways. Some weepy (that's me!), some story-like, some become an epic narrative and everything in between. So let's first say what a testimony is.
The official LDS website says that a testimony is "To share knowledge received by revelation from the Holy Ghost regarding eternal gospel truths."
It does not need to be any more than that. Many members make a common mistake of using testimony time to express love for their families or to thank their church leaders. This is not the intent of bearing testimony. Church Leaders have counseled us to express our love for our family and to thank church leaders personally, not during testimonies.
A Testimony should have three main parts:
1. What you know - A statement of the eternal gospel truth you are bearing witness to.
2. How you know it - How the Holy Ghost made that truth manifest to you.
3. What that means to you - How having a knowledge of that truth has effected your life.
Let me give an example following those three steps.
(1)I want to bear my testimony about atonement of our Savior. I know He died for me and that He now lives for me as well. (2)I feel the Spirit testify of this truth to me each week as I partake of the sacrament and feel the Spirit fill my heart. (3) Knowing I have a Savior gives me hope. Hope that I can be forgiven of my sins and live with Heavenly Father again.
Do you see how following these step made my testimony so clear and bore witness to a plain and precious truth? There was no need for long drawn out stories or flowery words (although, sharing brief life experiences which brought you to a knowledge of truth is perfectly fine).
David A. Bednar said, "The bearing of testimony need not be lengthy or eloquent. Spouses, parents, and children should strive to overcome any hesitancy, reluctance, or embarrassment about bearing testimony."
Identifying the Spirit
3 Nephi 11:3-7
And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, bin whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
When Christ visited the Nephites on the American Continent they heard a voice from Heaven three times before they recognized what it was. They were unfamiliar with the whisperings of the Spirit. Our children, teens and many adult members are often the same way.
As a general rule, when you are feeling the Spirit it is likely that others in the room are also. Take a moment to help your children recognize that Spirit by identifying it. My best tip here is to not be afraid of silence. When you feel Spirit enter your heart identify it right away by saying "Can you feel that feeling in this room and in your heart right now? That is the Holy Ghost telling us what we are talking about is true". Then pause for at least 5 fulls seconds. Let the Spirit fill the silence and really sink in, uninterrupted by words. I promise you that this pause is going to feel awkward to you at first. Practice this principle and I promise it will invite the Spirit in.
I hope those tips have helped you feel more comfortable about bearing testimony each week during Family Home Evening. I believe it is a very important part of the lesson and should never be missed.