To Believe on Their Words
by RI Editors
This is the seventh in a series by our writers and guests regarding spiritual gifts. We hope you enjoy our take on giving and receiving spiritually this Christmas season.
Please welcome Stephanie Dibb Sorensen, who is guest posting with us.
To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful. (D&C 46:13-14)
A loving Heavenly Father gives all his children spiritual gifts, in many varieties, to help us in our mortal journey. He gives us these gifts out of love and grace, enabling us to do what He sent us here to do: to reach our divine potential with the help of Jesus Christ. A testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel is a gift indeed. Elder David A. Bednar taught, “a testimony is personal knowledge of spiritual truth obtained by revelation. A testimony is a gift from God and is available to all of His children.” That testimony is an anchor in times of sorrow and trouble, a compass in navigating turbulent choices, and a stabilizing source of identity and confidence.
Since spiritual gifts are so diverse, it goes to reason that a testimony can come to people in different ways but always through the Spirit itself. I was born with embers of a testimony; I know it. My parents’ faith and testimony fanned those feelings and my own experiences with peace and obedience confirmed them. I have always known that God and Jesus live and love me. Perhaps this is an example of “to some it is given … to know.”
I also spent most of my younger years and young adult life feeling fairly accomplished and successful in my various endeavors. The combination of success and testimony gave me a lot of confidence. In my late twenties, I married and started a family. I became a mother, and suddenly, I faced something new to me: I had always done pretty well in all my different pursuits, but now, as a mother, I spent a lot of time feeling … well … less effective. No more accolades, no more abundant positive feedback, and a lot of nights lying in bed thinking of all the stuff I just knew I got wrong that day. I needed a new kind of testimony.
I still felt close to my Heavenly Father and more dependent on the Atonement of Jesus Christ than ever, but I had to get a confirmation that my new role was divinely appointed. I had to know that mothering was really what God wanted me to do with my life, and I needed assurance that it mattered to Him… a lot. Like any testimony of any gospel principle, these reassurances needed to come through the Holy Ghost. I studied — I mean really studied — everything I could find about the doctrine of motherhood. I read the scriptures carefully and pored over the words of living prophets and apostles. This journey is what made me familiar with another Spiritual gift: “To others it is given to believe on their words.”
As I read and studied and pondered the words of God, I began to get insights about my role. I got glimpses of my place in His plan. I felt personal communication of His love and guidance. I felt the Holy Ghost as I read the testimonies of other witnesses, and that helped me to arrive at the knowledge and understanding I needed. President Eyring taught:
Our humility and our faith that invite spiritual gifts are increased by our reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures. We have all heard those words. Yet we may read a few lines or pages of scripture every day and hope that will be enough.
But reading, studying, and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder, we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering, to me, is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying in the scriptures carefully. … Repentance, prayer, and pondering over the scriptures are essential parts of our qualifying for the gifts of the Spirit. (Serve with the Spirit)
Those tools helped me to gain a new testimony of my divine role as a mother. The side-effect of that whole experience was an unexpected testimony of a different gospel principle: The spiritual gifts we need — whether knowledge or skills — can be found in studying and pondering the scriptures and the words of prophets. I now sometimes get impatient when I see an internet culture of gospel discussion based on doubt and back-and-forth speculation or criticism. If you want to know the truth about something, you will need the help of the Spirit. His help is a gift, and the best way to receive the gift is by asking for it, and then turning to the words of God that He has given us.
“And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. . . . And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in Spirit shall receive in Spirit.” (D&C 46:26, 28)
When I read the long lists of spiritual gifts mentioned in the scriptures, there are so many I still need to develop in my life — like wisdom and charity, and definitely patience and compassion — but, I’m so grateful I know that studying the doctrines can bring the Spirit and understanding I need. And hopefully in all that searching and learning, I can see and become who God believes I can be.
Stephanie is a mom who likes to play with her family, and study and write about the gospel. She blogs about motherhood at Diapers and Divinity and has contributed essays to several books. She is adjunct faculty in BYU’s department of Church History and Doctrine and teaches at EFY in the summers. Her first book, Covenant Motherhood, will be released in LDS bookstores in March 2013. Stephanie loves chocolate, traveling, camping with her family, Latin music, restaurants, long walks, naps, and teaching about her favorite things.