“The Best Gift,” Friend, Sept. 1988, 2
Sister Wallace is my new CTR teacher, and we are beginning to study a lot about preparing for baptism. One of the things that will help us, she says, is to share our testimonies with others.
One Sunday she told us, “Testimonies strengthen people. Bearing your testimony is a way to express to the Lord and others what the gospel means to you and why you believe in it. Now,” she said, “I challenge each of you to bear your testimony. Next Sunday is fast and testimony meeting. Who would like to do it then?”
Nobody raised his hand. Not even Lisa Wilkes, who is always trying to please Sister Wallace.
“I know that it can be a little scary,” Sister Wallace admitted, “but if you do it, you’ll receive something special.”
My best friend, Mark, was becoming interested. “You mean that all we have to do is to stand up and bear our testimonies, and we’ll get something special?” he asked.
“Yes—if you are sincere when you bear your testimony, I promise that you really will receive something special.”
After church I walked home with Mark. On the way he asked me, “Are you going to bear your testimony next Sunday?”
“I don’t know. Are you?”
“I don’t know. What do you think we’ll get if we do?”
“Beats me. Probably a treat or something.”
Mark’s eyes showed his anticipation. He said excitedly, “I bet I know what it is—one of those giant homemade candy bars that Sister Wallace is famous for.”
“Hey, yeah!” I exclaimed. “That has to be it.”
“I’d sure like to get one,” Mark said enthusiastically. “I’m going to stand up next week for sure.”
All day I thought about what Sister Wallace had said, and I thought about my conversation with Mark. Sister Wallace wasn’t the kind of teacher who rewarded us for every nice thing that we did. Mark had asked her if all we had to do was stand up and say a few words to get something special, and she’d said that we had to be sincere. I still wasn’t sure what she meant by that, so when Dad tucked me into bed that night, I asked him what it meant to be sincere.
“Sincere about what, Adam?”
“Oh,” I said, “you know, sincere about what you’re saying.”
“Well,” Dad said, “when you’re sincere about what you’re saying, you really mean it. Take last night for instance. When your mother asked you to do the dishes, you said that you’d be happy to. But you weren’t sincere, because you complained the whole time. You didn’t really mean what you had said. But when you told me that you loved me and then went straight to bed when I asked you to, I knew that you’d been sincere, because you showed me that you did love me.”
“Can you always tell is someone is being sincere?” I asked.
“No,” said Dad. “A lot of times you can’t tell. But you can always know within yourself if you really mean what you say.”
I thought about that all week long, and I wondered, How will Sister Wallace know if we’re sincere and should get something special?
Sunday morning I woke up early. I took a shower and put on my best tie. I wanted to look extra nice, just in case I decided to bear my testimony.
Mark’s family sat next to mine during fast and testimony meeting. Just before it started, Mark leaned over and said, “Well, this is it.”
I tried to smile, but I couldn’t. Now that we were in the chapel, I was kind of scared.
Lisa Wilkes was the first person to bear her testimony after the bishop. As she sat down, she glanced over at Sister Wallace and smiled.
For a while nobody else in my class got up. Then about halfway through the meeting I saw Mark slowly edge out of his seat. Oh no, I thought. Now I’ll have to bear my testimony. I just couldn’t stand the thought of watching Mark eat his candy bar and listening to him tell me what a chicken I’d been.
Mark seemed nervous, but he took the microphone when it was handed to him, cleared his throat, and mumbled a few words so fast that before I knew it, he had finished and sat down.
After catching his breath, he looked over at me and grinned. “That wasn’t so tough,” he whispered. “I can hardly wait till we get to class.”
I tried to smile but couldn’t. Something was wrong. Mark’s testimony hadn’t seemed right. It didn’t seem as if he’d cared much about what he was saying, and I remembered what my dad had told me.
After a while Mark leaned over and whispered, “Aren’t you going to stand up? You want to get a candy bar, don’t you?”
I did want a candy bar, but I still hesitated. Suddenly Sister Wallace’s words came back to me. “Bearing your testimony is a way to express … what the gospel means to you and why you believe in it.” That was it! That’s what sincerely bearing your testimony really means. It isn’t a way to get chocolate bars or to please your Primary teacher or to be like your best friend. It’s a way to sincerely let others know why you are thankful for the gospel.
Suddenly I wanted to bear my testimony—because I had a lot of things to be thankful for. I thought over exactly what I wanted to say before I stood up. I loved my family and Heavenly Father and my teachers at church and all the Church leaders. And I knew that I wanted to go on a mission when I was older, so I decided to mention that too.
I was still nervous, but I felt really good as I stood up. When I got the microphone, I cleared my throat and said, “I want to bear my testimony …”
It wasn’t a very long testimony, but I meant every word of it. When I sat down, I had a special feeling come over me. I can’t describe it, but it was the greatest feeling in the whole world.
When we got to Primary class, Mark was licking his lips. I’m sure that he was still thinking about a giant candy bar. When Sister Wallace went over to the chalkboard and began hanging up some pictures, he couldn’t stand it any longer. “What about the treat that you said we’d get if we bore our testimonies?” he asked.
Sister Wallace turned around. “What treat?”
The excitement on Mark’s face instantly vanished. He looked around the room at each of the kids before he sheepishly said, “You said that we’d get something special if we bore our testimonies.”
Sister Wallace sat down in a chair, looked straight at Mark, and asked, “Didn’t you already get something special?”
Mark fidgeted for a minute. “No,” he said in a whisper. “I thought that you were going to give us something.”
Sister Wallace looked at Lisa and me. “Did either one of you receive something special?”
My stomach almost tied itself into a knot, but I knew that I had to answer. “I did,” I said.
Sister Wallace smiled. “Why don’t you tell us about it, Adam.”
“Well,” I began. “You said that we had to be sincere in order to get something special. I tried to think about what the gospel means to me before I bore my testimony. And then I tried to speak clearly so that everyone would know that I really meant it.”
Sister Wallace nodded. “You bore a beautiful testimony, Adam, and I could tell that you meant every word. But tell me, what special thing did you receive?”
“It was a special feeling,” I said. “I can’t exactly explain it, but it felt real good.”
“That’s exactly what I knew you’d receive,” said Sister Wallace. “That feeling was the Holy Ghost letting you know that what you were saying was true.” She turned to Mark and added, “Don’t worry, Mark. You’ll have many opportunities to bear your testimony. And when you do it sincerely, you’ll receive that special feeling too.”
All that day I carried that feeling with me. I was glad that Sister Wallace hadn’t given us any candy bars. That would have ruined it. When I said my prayers that night, I thanked Heavenly Father for giving me the courage to bear my testimony. But mostly I thanked Him for teaching me about being sincere so that I could feel the Spirit, the best gift of all.