Last Sunday, members of our ward were handed a list of instructions for bearing testimonies and the meeting I used to enjoy nose-dived. Now, I agree with some of the instructions—testimonies should not be prepared lectures. I don’t relish hearing Brother Feermonger admonish us all to get our two-year supply of food, fuel, and ammunition to prepare for the havoc the Obama administration is bringing upon our country. But I rather like travelogues. I know they’re self-promoting—“I just can’t pass up this opportunity to share our family’s trip to Israel”—but experiences beyond our ward boundaries add interest. I also like realistic accounts of dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. When Brother Forchanat describes the strength he received from the Lord and the support of family and ward members as he struggled for his life and limbs following a near fatal electrocution at work, I am moved to tears.
Restricting speakers to testifying that they “know” God lives, Jesus is their Savior, Joseph Smith was a true prophet, the Book of Mormon is true, and President Monson is our living prophet gets pretty tedious after 45 minutes. And how does one evaluate which personal experiences are testimony building? Some of the choices shared last Sunday struck me as more odd than uplifting.
The counselor in the bishopric started us off with his reflections on family members who have “fallen away” from the church. He doesn’t understand how they could have lost their purpose in life and no longer understand their individual worth. I wanted to ask him why he believed only active Mormons have a purpose in life and understand their individual worth, but testimony meeting does not include a Q & A session.
A good sister shared her experience of answered prayer last week. It seems her kids found a stray dog in their yard. They brought it in the house, fed it, and wondered how to find the owner. The mother’s solution was to pray for the owner to come to their house looking for the animal. After prayer, they stayed up until 10:30, waiting for the owner. Finally, the dog went to the door and they opened it just as the owner was walking past their house. Heavenly Father had truly answered their prayer. The dog had to pee just as the owner came by. Of course, they could have fed the dog, left it on the front porch, and not had to bother Heavenly Father, but that would have invoked common sense rather than faith and not been worth sharing at church.
Obviously, I haven’t the spirituality necessary to see me through F & T meetings—especially with the new guidelines. I can attend with a look of martyrdom on my face or stay home and make everyone happier.