This is the second part of a two-part series. To read the first part of the article, click here: The Troubled Testimony – Diagnosis. The first part talks about the things that make us feel lost or alone spiritually. There are times and situations that try what we believe and challenge our belief system. If we are not spiritually strong to start with, it becomes increasingly difficult to fight off the spiritual sickness that follows these attacks. The attacks on our faith may be deliberate or completely accidental. In either case, being spiritually sound will help you survive the encounters that will always come sooner or later.
In the Church we know that certain doubts come from general sources, and oftentimes there are certain behaviors that “cure” those doubts. Remember that the gospel of Christ is not a mystery. It is a set of laws. Each set of blessings is based on a law or set of laws. If we want the blessings we have to live the laws. If you find yourself spiritually sick, chances are you have neglected a law somewhere along the line or forgotten to do something that will bring the “cure” to your illness.
Here are some basic steps you can take to address many of the most common spiritual ailments members run into. Please note that many behaviors will help fix multiple ailments, so try them all! These are self diagnostic suggestions. Disclaimer: Please see your Bishop before embarking on any kind of serious self-help cure.
Are you reading your scriptures? Which scriptures are you reading? If you need help with your testimony of the Book of Mormon, read the Book of Mormon. Reading the Old Testament normally won’t give you a witness of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. There is power in the word of God. Infusing those words into our lives on a daily basis will give us clarity and help us to be able to tell truth from error more easily. Even if we don’t understand what we just heard, read, or saw out in the world, we will be able to feel that there is something wrong with it. This ability comes from regularly reading the scriptures, even if it is just a few minutes a day.
As the most correct book on earth, reading the Book of Mormon every day is important. Go ahead and read the other scriptures as well, but never leave off reading the Book of Mormon! It has the greatest curative power of any book of scripture.
How often are you reading your scriptures? If you can’t remember the last time you picked up a book of scripture then that alone may be the problem. Read daily. You don’t have to read long, but you do need to read and be consistent. The Lord rarely gives a witness of a book of scripture we haven’t at least tried to read and pray about.
Are you praying? Where? When? How often? Do you need help in how to pray? Sometimes we feel like we aren’t doing it right, so we are embarrassed to pray because we feel the Lord won’t listen or answer a clumsy prayer. Trust me, there is no such thing as an unanswerably clumsy prayer, if it is said with sincerity. Those are some of the most powerful prayers there are. The Lord looks on the heart, not at your clothing, your room décor, or the flower in your speech. It doesn’t matter where you are or how you are dressed. Be sincere and He will listen.
Are you coming to Church? Now for the hard question: Are you coming to Church to come to Church or are you coming to Church to worship the Lord? Is this social hour, a habit, or is this a sacred privilege? Coming to Sacrament meeting is a commandment. If you are not attending Church, you are missing out on some basic blessings that will help give you strength outside of Church time. And if you are worshiping at home during a pandemic or a period of personal illness, how faithful are you to actually setting aside a time of genuine worship on a given day?
Do you know your Bishop and your other ward or branch leaders? If you are having problems with your testimony, have you spoken to any of your leaders about it? If the problem is with one of your leaders, try to work it out with that leader, and if it doesn’t work, then go to their leader. Just remember to be humble. Lack of humility (pride) has killed more people’s testimonies than almost any other source.
This brings us to an unusual point. Do you sustain your leaders and your fellow members? Knowing and understanding how to sustain each other is very important. We raise our hands to sustain each other so often that most of the time we don’t even think about the promises we are making when we do it. Read this article to learn more about how to sustain people properly.
Next, ask yourself about your willingness to give your Church leaders, like the prophet and apostles, the benefit of the doubt. If they have said something you really disagree with, find out why you really disagree with it. No opinions are allowed on this one. If you are going to disagree with the Brethren, then you had better have a really good reason why they are wrong and you are right. Remember who they are. The Savior is at the head of this Church. If they are truly apostles and he is truly a prophet then they answer for their opinions and teachings to Christ himself. You had better truly feel that you know more than Christ if the prophet and apostles are going to be declared wrong. They get their direction from Him. Yes, they are mortal and not infallible. But we have also been promised that they will never lead us astray. You have to decide who is more worthy of your trust, the Lord’s ordained servants or the current beliefs of the world.
Are you serving? It is difficult to feel a part of a ward or branch if we are always looking at things from the outside in. Get involved. Do you have a ministering assignment? Are you faithfully doing your ministering each month? This is one of those principles that you will never have a testimony of until you do it faithfully, month in and month out. If you go to a ward function are you the first to leave or the last to leave? Are you standing around gabbing or are you in washing everyone else’s dishes or sweeping floors and taking out the trash? Your heart will change as you serve. If you want a softer heart, one that is more easily touched by the Holy Spirit, serve others.
When was the last time you experienced the Holy Ghost? If you can’t remember, it has been too long. Feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost is not a random event over which we have no control. The Holy Ghost comes when we are sincerely studying the gospel and asking for His guidance. He has to be invited. God never forces Himself on anyone. If we don’t want him around he won’t be. If you want the influence of the Holy Ghost, as a member of the Godhead, you have to constantly be asking for His company and guidance. This is why we are encouraged to pray for His influence and guidance daily.
The trick to being led by the Spirit is to be open to first impressions. My mother always told me that one way to invite the Spirit is to always act on the first impulse to do good. Never fight it or argue about it, just do it. Never question an impulse to do good. If the Lord knows that you will always follow that impulse then He will use you to bless the lives of His other children through those impulses. Our lives are blessed and their lives are blessed through us. Everyone wins.
Are you paying your tithes and offerings? Yes, the Lord uses our money to bless the lives of others. That is kind of how He set up mortality. Satan uses money too, but the Lord does more good with it. Donating to the Church is an act of faith. We need to demonstrate that faith. The Lord answers that faith with blessings we need, not usually financial blessings, but sometimes. You probably won’t get a witness of the divinity of tithing as a law until you have paid it for a while. Our witnesses always come after the trial of our faith!
When was the last time you went to the temple? Temple attendance should be more than just the day you were married. If you are able to go to the temple you should go as often as time and money will permit. Not only is the work done in the temples important, but what happens to you while doing that work is of vital importance to you. It is a great place to go to help you get answers to the questions that are bothering you.
Don’t look for trouble. There is no need to go looking up what the “anti-Mormons” are preaching so you will be prepared to argue or answer their questions. Filling your head with spiritual trash just makes your head a spiritual dump. Focus on the good, the clean, the uplifting things of the gospel. The Spirit will tell you what to include in your testimony when the time comes to answer someone.
All things work together for our good
Spirituality is like cooking. You could eat plain oatmeal everyday and survive. You could live off boiled eggs or just a cup of milk or water. But when you start to mix and match ingredients life gets ever so much more exciting. Whoever thought of dredging stale bread in a milk/egg mixture then frying it was a genius! I love French toast. The commandments are no different. We can live one commandment, and we will be blessed for that one commandment. But when we start to live multiple commandments at the same time, the mixture of blessings we can receive multiplies!
When someone is investigating the Church for the first time and wants to know if it is all true, the combination of commandments is generally as follows: come to Church, read the Book of Mormon, pray about its truthfulness, and pay your tithing. If you will do those things, you WILL learn for yourself that the Church is true.
As a general rule, if your testimony feels shaken, ask yourself how you really feel about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. Those two things are the foundation on which everything else is built. Once you know they are true, you can start adding testimonies of other events, of commandments, of principles, like the atonement, etc. But start with the foundation of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.
This is not intuitive. People say, but isn’t it all supposed to be about Christ? Yes, it is. And it really IS about Christ! But Joseph Smith received so much knowledge about Christ that was lost to the world that if we don’t know for sure that he was the Lord’s prophet, then we won’t ever trust what the current prophet tells us, and we may as well belong to a different church. So lock down that testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. That is the foundation. Everything else can be added to that.
Remember to give the Brethren as much credit as you would give a spouse or family member if you hear something or read something that doesn’t make sense. Assume the best in them. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Keep serving others, paying your tithes and offerings, and keep in close contact with your Church leaders for support. If you will do these things, it doesn’t mean that life will be without challenges, but it does mean that you will be doing the basics you need to do to keep receiving personal revelation so you know truth when you hear it. And you will feel better as well!
Click the file below
to print a PDF version of the article.