“I Never Had an ‘Aha!’ Testimony,” New Era, July 2019, 6–7.
The author lives in Utah, USA.
Imagine you’re the detective in a film. It’s the scene when you start to put together the picture of what happened. The camera swirls around you as you think deeply. In the background, previous scenes fade in and out behind you. The panning of the camera stops. The last bit of information settles in, and your puzzled face turns to triumph.
This is typical of an “aha!” moment, or a moment when a lot of little things combine into one huge realization. Has this ever happened to you? Because it’s never happened to me.
I’ve had to work at my testimony a little bit every day for as long as I can remember. I thought for a long time that there was something wrong with that—that I needed to have one big moment that would make Sherlock proud. It took me a while to realize that I probably wasn’t going to have a movie-worthy moment, and that’s OK.
Some people do have “aha!” moments where they realize that their little experiences have added up to a big testimony. But that’s not the only way to gain a testimony. Testimonies are as unique as the people who have them.
Take me, for example. Nothing especially exciting has happened to boost my faith, but there are lots of little “coincidences” that help me know that God is there. And you know what? That’s good enough for me. I can’t demand that my testimony come in a certain way or time. That’s just not how this whole revelation thing works.
When I was hoping for a singular, knock-down, powerful confirmation of the truth, I was forgetting the gift of faith. Alma 32:17–18 says: “Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.”
Miracles don’t go before faith; they come after. If everything we ever had doubts and questions about was handed to us as a perfect package of truth, we would never learn and grow. We would not need our faith because we would have perfect knowledge. It is a merciful Father in Heaven who doesn’t give us everything we ask for exactly when we ask for it. A person with a testimony built by daily acts of faith will be better prepared to endure (see 3 Nephi 18:12).
Joseph Smith didn’t just have the First Vision and then that was it. He grew closer to God over a lifetime of experiences. You might have an “aha!” moment about your testimony, but more likely you will have tons of little ones throughout your life. Even “aha!” moments require a lot of little pieces of evidence to come together. Little experiences are what make a firm testimony. Nobody endures to the end by having only one big spiritual experience as a teenager.
So, if you haven’t had an “aha!” moment, or if you can’t say that you know with certainty the Church is true, don’t beat yourself up about it! There’s room for testimonies of all sizes and shapes. Even if you only desire to believe, that’s enough for God to work with (see Alma 32:27). Your testimony might not come together in a flashing display, but if you keep living the gospel because you believe it’s true, your testimony will come.