Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
Recently, a sister in our ward shared her testimony that she used to hate winter, because she felt the cold so strongly. However, this year, she didn't mind it because she realized she had a testimony of spring. It came every year and she knew it would come again this year. I was so grateful for that simple testimony because, having moved this summer from California to New Jersey, I did not have a testimony of spring. As I looked at the woods next to our home, with the empty branches, the dead grass, and the dirty snow still covering everything, I could not imagine that this could possibly change. How could it ever get warm again? How could those barren trees ever again be green and full? Would we ever see our hibernating groundhog again? I decided that since this came from someone I trusted, and from someone who had lived here all her life and knew more about the miracles of seasons, I would trust her testimony and let it get me through the remainder of the winter. I would simply borrow Nanette's testimony until I had lived here a few years and could get my own.
We're taught that we can't rely on borrowed testimony forever, but most of us have relied on borrowed testimony at least for a time. Whether it was we were new in the church and our testimony wasn't fully formed, because we had a gap in our testimonies, or because we were at a weak moment in our lives, sometimes we turn to the powerful testimonies of others to get us through while our own is built or rebuilt. The testimony of a teacher can have a powerful impact on a student.
The day I announced I was joining the church, the Young Women were having Standards Night. I was a Laurel, and our Young Women's president, my leader, gave each girl a small handmade bag to carry with us to the temple on our wedding day. When she gave me mine, she said she started them the night I first came to class. She wondered, as she began to plan, if she should make one for me. It was only my first time there, and I hadn't seemed too impressed by the lesson. However, the spirit had testified to her that I would someday use that bag in the temple and she made my bag. My testimony, even though I had committed to baptism, was not powerful, and her simple testimony had a tremendous impact, helping me to know I had made the right choice and that the Spirit had guided my conversion. In the early days of my membership, I often leaned heavily on the testimonies of teachers and friends to keep me on the straight and narrow path when I wasn't certain it was the one I should follow.
In later years, when my testimony could normally support me alone, there were times when I was struggling. A visiting teacher's inspired accounting of how the Lord protected her family in a time of financial crisis became my testimony, because I was too afraid to trust my own. A bishop's testimony that God had very specifically chosen me for a calling I felt I could not do became mine until I gained my own testimony of this call.
It is nearly impossible to get through our lives without needing the strengthening that comes from a deeply felt testimony of another. This is why we have a monthly testimony meeting. It is why we are encouraged to share our own testimonies as we teach.
You do not yet know, and may never know, who depended on your testimony the day you gave it, but it is certain that someone did.
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The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd