To Believe on Their Words

[ 12 ] Comments

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.

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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.

12 Responses to To Believe on Their Words

  1. Jendoop says:

    Thank you for this post. I especially liked this: “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.”

    The kind of comfort and testimony you received is not attained virtually, or by human gift. It is only from a loving Heavenly Father, through the Holy Ghost. We must do what he asks of us, to the best of our abilities, if we want that gift. It is one that surpasseth understanding, because it is unspeakable – only given in that somewhat indefinable way that the Spirit operates, which is unique to the individual. Instead of seeing this as a hassle, I see it as a wonderful blessing that God speaks to us as individuals, to answer our questions and to lead us.

    • Stephanie says:

      Absolutely. It cannot be given except by the Spirit. So much of the spinning wheels could be corrected if we just turned to the right source.

  2. Curtis DeGraw says:

    Stephanie, I appreciate this post – and I think we tend as a people to dismiss, in our deep desire to “know”, the fullest and most powerful import of the idea that “to some is given to believe” – and especially that such non-knowing belief is given to some in relation to something as central to the Gospel as the principle that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.”

    Think about that: If belief, rather than knowledge, is a gift when it comes to something that central, important and even vital, then non-knowing belief in other things ought to be accepted and cherished, as well. We ought not pressure ourselves and others to “know” things we honestly can say we “believe”. We ought to be content in many cases with the gift of faith, which, at the most fundamental level, is nothing more than an extension of the gift to believe.

    • Stephanie says:

      Your thoughts make me think of the scripture in John about “if any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine.” (possibly paraphrased) It seems we have to believe enough first to DO what we’re asked… then the knowledge will come.

  3. Bonnie says:

    As soon as I complete my current course of personal study in the Doctrine and Covenants, I’m going to take a year to study the sermon on the mount and the sermon at the temple to the Nephites/Lamanites. I was struck that just prior to the American sermon, the Lord makes the following comment: “more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am.” Those words, “more blessed,” have been circulating in my mind for a while now. I’m not sure I know all that he intends by that, but I know that there is a special dispensation given to those who take *that* leap of faith as opposed to the one the prophets with different missions take. I have known that profound trust that comes from knowing that God will speak to me when I haven’t seen him. It is a different certainty, but I think there are other collateral gifts I have because I believed before I will see him. Those are worth having.

  4. Paul says:

    I had a conversation with my 16-year-old son yesterday about knowing and believing. He is, at this stage, very much a literalist, and gets squeamish when he hears people say they know. Your comments (and Elder Eyring’s) about pondering speak peace to me. I hope in time they will ring true for my seeking son, too.

    • Stephanie says:

      I do think time is key. Very little knowledge comes in the angel/apparition way. You can see more thoughts on this in my reply to Curtis, too, but I really think that obedience + time leads to knowledge. The evidence comes through living the principle.

  5. Marsha Keller says:

    I know that we can develop and enlarge upon just like any talent, yet sometimes it feels like perhaps we forget to just be intensely grateful for the free gifts that come easy, those ones that we were just handed on a silver platter that so many others must strive to obtain. I Love how President Eyring says, “We invite. . .”

    Invite the revelation as to what our gifts already are. So many just don’t think they have any. Perhaps they are just missing the correct question?

    • Stephanie says:

      Good point, Marsha. One of my favorite resources for that is a patriarchal blessing. It lays out the way God sees us.

  6. Angie says:

    Thanks for your insights. I love how you said, “The spiritual gifts we need — whether knowledge or skills — can be found in studying and pondering the scriptures and the words of prophets.” So true. It’s just a matter of being deliberate in our efforts (which is where I often fall short). I also love your experience about gaining a testimony of motherhood. We need more “mothers who know” this for themselves.

    • Stephanie says:

      This is a way overdue reply, but thanks, Angie. I wholeheartedly agree on your “mothers who know” comment. We can do hard things when we have the testimony to back it up.

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