by Barbara Ann PetersenSharing my testimony should be simple and easy to do. It is the strength inside of me that directs and motivates my actions every day. However, every time I do share it, I seem to struggle just a bit. It is not for the lack of desire or inner strength, it is more the lack of sufficient words to convey my innermost thoughts and feelings.
I would love to be able to write a story as to how I was converted, or the great manifestation that took place to convert me to the gospel, but my story is rather simpler than that.
I was raised in a good family in which the gospel was taught. It was a way of life. When asked to share with others how I knew the Church was true, I was a little perplexed. I didn’t know how. I just knew it was. I remember praying to the Lord for that “burning feeling” to let me know of the truthfulness of the gospel, but was given instead a quiet peaceful feeling that said, “You already know. I don’t need to tell you.”
While this feeling frustrated me, I grew to understand it better when I was in college. At the time I was taking a religion class called Doctrines of the Gospel. The teacher was phenomenal, a true disciple of the Lord. I was impressed by his knowledge and dedication to the gospel. The instructor loved the Lord. I could absolutely FEEL it. I looked forward to learning, and I absorbed everything that was taught. At first I was so excited by what I was learning that I would openly share it with anyone who would listen.
Why hadn't I more fully understood the simple truths?
However, this feeling of wanting to share everything changed. As I learned about the Savior and His role in the gospel, my testimony was strengthened to the point that it became personal in nature. It became one that was sacred. I remember distinctly feeling that my testimony was not growing, but rather I was REMEMBERING one I already had. When I realized this, it was as if the veil covering my testimony parted and I could sense the deepness of the whole of it. This knowledge explained to me why I did not need to have that “burning feeling,” and explained to me why every fiber of my being already knew that the gospel was true.
The knowledge that I carry with me leads me and guides me in decisions that I make each day. It allows me to hear words of comfort from a loving Father. It allows me to feel tender spoken words from a son not yet born. It allows me to feel peace during times of turmoil. It allows me to recognize tender mercies in everyday events of my life. This knowledge leads me to listen to the still softness of the Spirit when those around me need me to act. This knowledge teaches me what I need to learn. It allows me to listen to a loving Heavenly Father as He directs me, His daughter, through this life, and it is this knowledge that will lead me to live with Him again.
It is this knowledge that has become so personal in nature that I simply cannot separate myself from it to explain in words, just how much I love my Heavenly Father. He has given me everything I have, and He has given me so much more through the atonement of Christ. I know He loves me. Everything in this gospel radiates His love.
Many years ago, Elder Holland made a comment to one of my sisters after setting her husband apart as a stake president. He said, “Sister _____ , you are now the Lord’s.” She responded in kind with a comment that said she knew she was. I would have stated, “I already was.”