A week or so after I was baptized, I decided to pick up and move to Olathe. My new job, new friends, and new life were waiting for me. After nearly three years in grad school, the hardest things for me to leave was my ward and my best friend, S. This was the first ward where I felt like I could relax a little – it was the first ward where I shared my testimony.
Let me tell you that story before I move to Olathe.
On the morning of my last Sunday in Lawrence, Sister R asked if I would be willing to share my testimony. I refused. I told her it was still all too new and I wouldn’t know what to say. She referred me to D&C 100: 5-6. “Lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts… for it shall be given you in the very hour, yeah, in the very moment, what ye shall say.” (Also, see Matthew 10: 19-20 – THANK YOU CB!)
I didn’t know if I could trust that promise, but I told her that I wouldn’t completely rule out sharing my testimony. The best I could give her was a maybe. She was far more excited about this than I was.
During the testimony meeting, I couldn’t bring myself to get up and say anything. I had a difficult time saying, “I’d like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true.” I barely knew what half of those words meant and to tell other people that I believed in them would be too hard. It did, however, give me pause to think: what do I believe in? How do you share a testimony?
So I Googled it. And found this.
That morning, I was worried because I thought I had made a huge mistake. I couldn’t even tell myself what I believed in, except that a week ago, I was baptized because I believed something.
I got an e-mail that morning from StoryPeople. I get them everyday and they are always charming and helpful. Go check them out sometime! That morning, my first Testimony meeting as a full-fledged LadyMo, I got the words I needed.
I don’t know how long I can do this, he said. I think the universe has different plans for me & we sat there in silence & I thought to myself that this is the thing we all come to & this is the thing we all fight & if we are lucky enough to lose, our lives become beautiful with mystery again & I sat there silent because that is not something that can be said.
I had a testimony, and now I had the words to “bear” it. I spent so long fighting, and only because I wanted to win (not because I necessarily believed in what I was fighting for). I was lucky enough to lose and my life became beautiful with mystery again. The last sentence resonated with me. I thought about it for a while and what it meant that these were the words that came to me when I didn’t know how to share my testimony: I sat there silent because that is not something that can be said. Was that my out? Did that mean I didn’t have to get up and share my testimony? Score.
I got to church and I sat anxiously in the pews. People were sharing amazing stories and testimonies of God’s love for them and how their faith in His words made their lives beautiful. I wanted to get up there to say something, but I was afraid of saying something stupid like, “Church is cool. I didn’t like it, but now I do. Amen.” I was also very weary of saying words like “in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” I didn’t know what it meant to say that, or if it was bad if I didn’t. The only thing I knew to do was just shut up and listen. Not one of my strongest skills, I assure you.
After sacrament meeting, I felt a little disappointed in myself. I thought that if I could do that, maybe I could conquer the world! Or something. Seriously, I had high expectations of sharing my testimony. When I got to Relief Society, I was still kicking myself. The sisters assured me it was okay and that I would have plenty of opportunities.
Sigh. I didn’t have to do everything in one week. Cool. (Natalie H reminded me of this when I would freak out about stuff. “LadyMo, you’re still a BabyMo. Just keep learning!”)
The Relief Society President, Sister C, left the last 10 minutes for us to share our testimonies. I had that familiar feeling of my skin, ears, and hair being on fire. I got out of my seat, walked up to the front of the room, “and I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do (1 Nephi 4:6).”
I stood at the front, and in a room full of amazing sisters, I said, “I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know what it means to bear my testimony, but I want to share with you the only thing I know right now. I know that I fought against God so hard. And He fought back. I was lucky enough to lose and my life became beautiful with mystery again. That’s it. And I am not going to say anything else. Now I’m going to sit.”
It was so awkward. I didn’t want to say “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” I didn’t even want to say “Amen.” I couldn’t understand those words and I didn’t know what it felt like to trust them. The sisters were so gracious and let me be awkward and share my testimony in the only way I knew how.
I didn’t know what words to say, but as He promised, he gave me the words I should speak in that hour. For that, I’m grateful.
So much love,