You’re sitting on a church pew that has been covered in a deep burgundy colored fabric as you eye the small child in front of you during the month’s fast and testimony meeting.
You are touched by the speakers testimony. You can feel the Holy Ghost testifying to your heart that the words you are hearing are true, but as you sit there it feels like you and the baby might be the only two in the room who aren’t crying during this testimony meeting because of the spirit in the room.
As fast as this thought enters into your mind the child starts to scream and their dad carries them out.
You begin to wonder why you don’t cry when you feel the spirit.
A picture flashes in your mind of girls camp testimony meeting last summer where all the girls sat on logs around a campfire. One by one each girl would stand up and mutter what they knew to be true through tear-filled eyes and a chocked up throat. As it came to be your turn you stood up and rattled off that you know Joseph Smith was a true prophet, because you do. You also tell how you know that he really did translate the Book of Mormon and that you know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. You know this because you’ve read it and you’ve prayed about it. You share your testimony of the Savior and his Atonement. You’ve seen it work in your life. You share this testimony and as fast as you stood up, you sit down without a single tear falling from your face.
As the testimony meeting comes to a close you watch awkwardly as your young women leaders hug the girls that are still crying. They thank them for their beautiful testimonies and tell them how amazing they are as you sit and think “did my testimony not mean anything?”
This question, in addition to many others have run through my mind on several occasions during various testimony meetings, and church events through my life. These thoughts include, but are not limited to;
“Why don’t I cry when bearing my testimony?”
“Am I really even feeling the spirit?”
“Should I pretend to cry so that I can fit in?”
“Why do my leaders seem to like the girls that cry more than those that don’t?”
“I wonder if my leaders even believe that I do have a testimony because they’ve never seen me cry.”
“I just want to be able to cry.”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“Now my leaders are crying…”
“I don’t know what to do when people leak.”
These examples are my personal experiences, and they may or may not be your personal experiences too.
Now I must insert a disclaimer in here: I’m in no-way stating that it’s bad to cry when you bear your testimony. It’s great and I honestly wish I was like those of you that do, but what I am saying is that it’s okay if you don’t.
There. I said it. It’s okay if you don’t cry when you bear your testimony.
President Howard W. Hunter said: “I get concerned when it appears that strong emotion or free-flowing tears are equated with the presence of the Spirit. Certainly the Spirit of the Lord can bring strong emotional feelings, including tears, but that outward manifestation ought not to be confused with the presence of the Spirit itself.”
I have never been a cryer. Sure, I have had experiences when tears have been present, but for the most part I don’t cry when bearing my testimony, and neither does my mom or my sister.
For a long time I was self-conscious about it. I sometimes wouldn’t bear my testimony because I didn’t want to be looked down upon for not crying. Oh how I was so wrong.
In the Book of Mormon we read about King Benjamin’s sermon that he gave to his people where he bore testimony of his personal witness of the Savior.
When he had just borne witness to the people, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy … because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come.”
“filled with joy.”
To me the phrase “filled with joy” doesn’t put a picture in my mind of a bunch of people crying around a campfire. To me that is a group of people who have just had their lives changed. They have new-found knowledge and strengthened testimonies and they are excited about it. They are motivated for change. This is how I want my testimony to affect people.
I was having a discussion about this topic with my mom and sister some time ago. My mom brought up a good point. Watch just one session of General Conference and you witness testimony after testimony of some of the Lord’s most righteous servants. These are men that commune with God on a daily, and dare I say, minutely basis. These are men that have constant spiritual experiences and that have firm testimonies. Yet, for the majority of the time they don’t spend their time at the pulpit crying.
If I could pick a favorite conference talk this would be it. Here is a powerful testimony of a man called of God. In fact, this is one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard, yet he didn’t cry.
So my conclusion is this: If you are in a situation where you have the chance to bear your testimony then do it. If you get chocked up and feel tears swelling in your eyes then let them out. It is an amazing thing to be so passionate about something that it moves you to show emotion, but I also conclude this; that if by chance you stand up and begin to proclaim your testimony and tears don’t begin to swell in your eyes; stand firm. You’re testimony is no less than anybody else’s. Your testimony can bring so many to know of the truth and you just might be the one that says something that somebody else needs to hear. Never again will I hold back my testimony because I don’t feel that it is good enough. Never again will I hide the joy that the gospel brings to me. Because it is just that; joy. And I want to share it.
feel my sunlight
p.s. I can submit my mission papers in 31 days!!!