I Learned for Myself

“I Learned for Myself,” New Era, May 2013, 46–47

I Learned for Myself

Maggie J., Utah, USA


Illustration by Dan Burr

One day when I was a freshman in high school, a person who is not a member of our Church visited our seminary class during a lesson on Joseph Smith and the First Vision. To close the lesson, our seminary teacher bore powerful witness that through Joseph Smith the Lord restored the true Church of Jesus Christ. He then asked if anyone else could add a second witness. With a nonmember present, I knew this would be a perfect time to bear my testimony. I stared down at my desk, waiting for some sign or feeling to prompt me to testify or share my thoughts. Yet, to my surprise, the opposite happened. I realized that although I knew what words I would say if asked, they didn’t yet mean anything to me personally. I’d learned about the First Vision ever since I was a child, yet now the real test had come and I didn’t know if any of it is true. After two long, silent minutes, the bell rang and our discouraged seminary teacher dismissed us.

Before heading home, I sat alone on the steps in front of the seminary building and pondered what had happened. I felt like I had failed in some way, and I knew I needed to know for myself. So I prayed and then asked myself: “Do I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and restored the true Church?”

Remarkably, the answer came instantly and powerfully. Yes. My prior discouragement was completely gone as the Spirit testified to me of the truthfulness of the Restoration. The more I pondered about what I believed, the stronger I felt that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. Right then I resolved to bear my testimony of the First Vision when future opportunities arose.

A while later I was sitting in seminary when the same teacher again bore his testimony of the First Vision. He again asked if anyone would bear a second witness. I was instantly reminded of the resolution I had made after the previous experience, and my heart leaped at this second chance. I was grateful that my previous inability to bear my testimony had motivated me to learn for myself that Joseph Smith did indeed see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and was instrumental in restoring the true Church. I was filled with joy and did not hesitate to stand and proudly bear my testimony of the First Vision, because I had learned for myself.