• Kaylee Petersen

S1E8: New Year, New Testimony


TW: We didn’t know what would come in 2020. We didn’t know!


Dumpster Fires: 2019

Are we better people now in 2020 than in 2019? We don’t know.


But we do have to talk about Endgame. Tracy had quite the tricky beginning of 2019 and so maybe, just maybe, it’s time to stop with the resolutions. Screw you, January 2nd.


Kaylee’s goal? To be more compassionate. Who knows? Maybe she’ll remember this one by the end of 2020. (Spoiler alert: she didn’t.)


We’re sweating a little bit, but we’re here.


Turning Over a New Leaf

New Year, New Me. Resolutions, growth, it’s a big theme and a big party.


However, as 60% of Americans make resolutions for the new year, only 8% of them by the end of the year will accomplish them. So American. By January 17th, it’s the ‘D-Day’ of resolutions because that’s when everyone is done. So how about a national holiday celebrating our failures, anyone?


If you do make it past that date, then you’re 40% more likely to make it with your resolution. Just got to get past that breaking point on January 18th!


We also discovered that people tend to make the same resolutions in some sort of variation. The top 10 New Year’s Resolutions include:

  1. Diet/Eat Healthier (71%)

  2. Exercise More (65%)

  3. Weight Loss (54%)

  4. Save more and spend less (32%)

  5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26%)

  6. Quit smoking (21%)

  7. Read more (17%)

  8. Find another job (16%)

  9. Drink less alcohol (15%)

  10. Spend more time with family and friends (13%)

Cue the bad jokes, cringing, and realizing we are busy bees.


Counseling on Resolutions

While resolutions are admirable, we don’t have to wait until the beginning of the new year to try to better ourselves. You can start fresh any day that you like. The prophets and apostles of the church have consistently counseled us to focus on improving our spirits and testimonies.


“See Christ in the center of our lives.” - Jeffrey R. Holland

“Joy comes from keeping Christ’s commandments.” - D. Todd Christofferson

“Remain watchful unto prayer continually, that you may be prepared to counter the adversary.” - David A. Bednar

“Join Christ on the great adventure of discipleship.” - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Love God with all our hearts and He will turn your hearts to the well-being of others.” - Russell M. Nelson


Gospel-Related Resolutions

As we finally get to the point…


“One of the Gospel-related resolutions you can never fully complete is developing your testimony. Your testimony is built on a foundation of knowledge that you receive through study, pondering, thoughtful prayer, and revelation.”


Kaylee has spent a lot of time now working on the core tenants of her testimony. She grew up in the church and had a testimony but never knew how to speak about it or put it into words. This is a reminder that testimonies are not static: they grow with us and can/should change regularly. It takes time and commitment to work on a testimony where you can seek out opportunities to grow, study the scriptures, and learn from those around you.


As Tracy said, “You don’t really know or fully understand a principle of the gospel until you’ve tried to live it―and until you’ve fully committed yourself to that principle. A prime example is tithing: you don’t fully gain a testimony of tithing until you’ve tried to live the law of tithing perfectly and always pay your tithing, even when it’s hard. That’s when you see the blessings and that’s when you gain that personal witness.”


The five main foundations of testimony that every member in the church should work on cultivating are included here:

  1. Heavenly Father lives and loves us

  2. Jesus Christ lives, loves us, is the Savior & atoned for us

  3. Joseph Smith is a prophet of God & was called to restore the Church in the latter days

  4. The Book of Mormon is the word of God

  5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of Jesus Christ and has been restored to its fullness today

That is the foundation of what you need in your testimonies to help them to grow. They are essentially part of the baptismal interview that you have as you prepare to be baptized and become a member of the church.


“You don’t have to know everything about each of those things, but you have to have received a personal witness from the Holy Ghost that these things are true.”


If you don’t at least have a minor foundational testimony of these things, it’s time to consider what your faith means to you and if/how you would like to grow in your spirituality. People should be baptized only because they believe in these principles and not to please other people or for any other reason. Your whole heart should be in it


If you want to join a cult, you should at least have a basic understanding of what is going to happen while you’re there.


Building A Testimony

We are reminded that we cannot lean on others’ testimonies. By the time we are eight, the age of accountability, we need to be turning to our hearts and beliefs here without relying on others.


We cannot make covenants based on what other people believe. That is how you grow. If you don’t believe, then you will have a hard time growing or doing anything within the church as you seek to progress. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to be ready to accept these principles and truths for yourself and trust in them as you move forward.


Testimonies Aren’t Easy

We cannot put our testimonies in our pockets for a rainy day or wear them on our heads like a lantern. Testimonies are both simple and complex at once, mainly because they are constantly changing. You need to continuously maintain them so they are developed.


Strengthen Your Testimony

Testimonies take a lot of work. It's not always easy. And you're never really done cultivating them.


You don’t have to do everything all at once. That won’t work.


One of the main ways to grow your testimony is to take it one step at a time. Pick one aspect of your testimony you want to strengthen. It’s not like a pop quiz where you need all the answers at the time.


“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” - Moroni 10:3-5

Consider these words and the steps that are outlined, making it a clear process for us to follow in order to work on cultivating our testimonies.


The Following Steps

Essentially, they give us this pattern:

  1. Read/study

  2. Ponder the messages

  3. Pray and ASK SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

  4. *promised blessing* you will know the truthfulness of all things

“We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.” - Book of Mormon Introduction

For today, we’re going to break it down a little bit further by adding our own take and experiences from developing our testimonies.

  1. Desire to Know

  2. Study & Work

  3. Ponder

  4. Pray to Know

  5. Receive Witness from Holy Ghost

Desire to Know

You can see as prophets take on their role, their journey is started by their desire to learn more.


Let’s talk about the mustard seed! Alma 32 is all about planting a seed of faith and nurturing it until it grows into a marvelous tree full of the fruits of eternal life. But it all starts with a righteous desire.


“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” - Alma 32:27

“You can’t do anything unless you have a desire to do something.”


“No one is going to accidentally stumble into heaven.”


There is a single path to get to heaven: the strait and narrow. We have to be purposeful with every step that we take in that direction. We need to want to do that, to take the step, to be willing to do what it takes to start AND keep moving.


“I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited...When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. It was of this very incident, this specific miracle, that Jesus said, ‘If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.’ The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.” - Jeffrey R. Holland

It is the INTEGRITY. So stop doubting yourself. Use what you do have! There is the chance that we will never feel good enough because we still have so much room for growth. We can look at that gap and say, “we can’t get there” or we can say, “I’m willing to take the first step and go from there.”


Referencing the Savior’s ministry is important, too. The Lord reminds him that he DID know enough and he had enough faith―and if he keeps clinging to that knowledge, it will be enough and he will be rewarded.


For us now, if we have that desire to develop a certain part of our testimony or even to just trust in the Lord, we don’t know the whole picture or what is going to happen in our lives―but as long as we’re willing to rely on that base foundation of faith that we already have, the Lord is going to bless us abundantly for having that desire and help us get to that next step.


It’s a process!


Study and Work

You can basically read the entire section of Alma 32: 28-41 to get the gist of this. It is Alma teaching how faith is not having perfect knowledge, but to trust through your belief that Heavenly Father will help us help it grow.


“Plant the seed, nourish it, let the Spirit work on it, watch it grow. If it grows, it’s a good seed and your knowledge/faith grows in that thing.” It’s not perfect knowledge, but you are still growing. The more you learn and the more you push yourself, the more knowledge you gain and the more faith you grow.


Because you have studied, because you have been patient and diligent, the Lord is going to give you those eternal blessings. We learn particularly in verses 42-43 that your diligence, faith, and patience in nourishing the word caused your testimony to grow. You receive eternal blessings as a result.


“The second observation is a variation of the first. When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your “unbelief.” That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.” - Jeffrey R. Holland

Be candid! That is so important.


“Your desire to know the answer to a question is not going to come unless you’re finally being candid. You’re not going to learn the answers if you’re not asking the right questions.”


It is a step that you cannot miss.


“Have questions? Study them out. Search the scriptures for answers...Learn and do God’s will...We need to come unto Christ and follow His teachings.” - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Heavenly Father wants us to have questions. He wants us to ask our questions. And He wants us to work for the answers.


That’s why we have everything that we do! We have scriptures, leaders, church, programs, all of these pathways to help us learn these answers and learn how to ask the questions we have.


Ponder

We like to skip over this step in this day and age. It’s slow, it takes time, it requires patience.


“I’m an instant person.”


We will think ourselves to death and go in circles without getting anywhere. However, your brain does need time to process our thoughts and especially our feelings. We need time to think about what we are learning in order to make a decision and find out how to apply these principles to our lives.


You can’t dive into the next step of prayer without knowing what you really want to pray about. It’s like raising your hand to ask a question but when you’re called on, you aren’t ready. How are you to get your answers then?


In Oct. 2015 Conference, Devin G. Durrant of the Sunday School General Presidency counseled us to “ponderize” scriptures. Which was his way of teaching us to study a single scripture verse for a week, put it somewhere you could see daily, and ponder the meaning of its keywords and phrasing.


“As you reflect on your selected verse each week, words and phrases will be written on your heart. Words and phrases will also be written on your mind. In other words, memorization will take place easily and naturally. But the primary goal of ponderizing is to provide an uplifting place for your thoughts to go—a place that keeps you close to the Spirit of the Lord. The Savior said, “Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life.” Ponderizing is a simple and edifying way to do just that.” - Devin G. Durrant

It allows you to think about what your questions are AND what you are trying to understand.

Take charity for example. You can read Moroni and consider what the scriptures say. As you read, you can better learn fully what you’re seeking to learn. Charity is a complex topic and requires time. You can ponderize each verse in consideration.


“Taking that time to ponder those verses and to really think about what the Lord is trying to teach me would give me that time to process the information, to feel the feelings that I need to be feeling, and to start having that change of heart before I can ask the Lord what I need to actually learn from this.”


Pondering, pondering―it helps us to better understand ourselves in the process. We like to avoid that but we can’t.


Pray to Know

“At the very moment we say, ‘Father in Heaven,’ He hears our prayers and is sensitive to us and our needs. And so His eyes and His ears are now connected to you. He reads our minds, and He feels our hearts. You cannot hide anything from Him. Now, the wonderful thing is that He will see you with eyes of love and mercy—love and mercy that we cannot fully understand. But love and mercy are with Him the very moment you say, ‘Father in Heaven.’” - Juan A. Uceda

The Lord cares about everything you have to say, even if you think it’s unimportant. The Lord will help you with your test, help you find your keys, and do anything else you need. Thinking otherwise is selling yourself short and limiting your relationship with the Lord.


God wants to hear from us. He’s waiting at the door for us. We need to be the ones to open it.


Also, you’re not going to get a busy signal from the Lord.


“Heavenly Father is so acutely aware of everything that we are going through in our lives and He is very hands-on in everything that we’re doing. He’s making things happen in ways that we don’t know and don’t understand.”


We need to pray from our hearts, feel that desire to know, put in that effort, and that’s when the Lord is really going to shower us with those answers we were looking for. We need to do the preparation to get what we are looking for.


“With thoughtless and impatient hands We tangle up the plans The Lord hath wrought. And when we cry in pain He saith, ‘Be quiet, man, while I untie the knot.’”

- Author Unknown


“Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them. The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, “line upon line, precept upon precept” (D&C 98:12). Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. The promptings will be clear and unmistakable.” - Boyd K. Packer

Kaylee had three questions she had for the Oct. 2019 General Conference. How long did it take to get them all answered? The very first three talks. Each talk addressed exactly what she was looking for.


You can’t just sit around waiting for the answers to come. You have to keep moving along. Just because you asked the question doesn’t mean you put it away forever. You consider it, keep it in the back of your mind, and consider it.


“(Packer) just reaffirms that knowledge that we have about prayer and about receiving revelation in the Lord’s timeline that like the Lord is taking care of everything and He’s going to answer your questions and He’s going to get to you and He’s trying to clean up the mess you made with your life.”


Kaylee had to take care of her 10-month-old niece over the holidays. The niece wanted to eat and that wasn’t wrong. It doesn’t necessarily mean it was wrong to end up messy every time. So Kaylee needed to be there to clean her up every time this happened. Often the niece did not like this. But that’s how it needed to happen and that can be like us―we want something and we will get it, but it may not be in the way that we want it.


When you are candid with your prayers, the Lord can be more candid with you too.”


Be specific in your prayers, ask the specific questions you are wanting answers to. If you aren’t getting the answer, then change your question. Vague questions will not help anyone.

It changes from “What do I do?” to “How do I move ahead in this particular step to do this?”


Receive a Personal Witness

From the Holy Ghost! Find the answers, build the testimony, have that experience.


Brook P. Hales gave an amazing talk at April 2019 conference called “Answers to Prayers” where he explains that the main reason we can receive revelation and answers to our prayers through the Holy Ghost is that the Lord loves us.


“An important and comforting doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that our Heavenly Father has perfect love for His children. Because of that perfect love, He blesses us not only according to our desires and needs but also according to His infinite wisdom. As simply stated by the prophet Nephi, “I know that [God] loveth his children.” One aspect of that perfect love is our Heavenly Father’s involvement in the details of our lives, even when we may not be aware of it or understand it. We seek the Father’s divine guidance and help through heartfelt, earnest prayer. When we honor our covenants and strive to be more like our Savior, we are entitled to a constant stream of divine guidance through the influence and inspiration of the Holy Ghost.” - Brook P. Hales

We want that divine guidance, right?


Nephi knew he had faults, gaps in his knowledge. But he did know that God loves each of us, knows us by name and by heart, and He’s doing everything He can to help us on this journey of life.


We can often look back on our lives to see the impact that God has made in our lives. It’s hard to see at the moment. But the Lord is there. If we can keep pushing ourselves, then we can keep making progress.


We are not limited to a certain amount of revelation in this lifetime. We can receive anything when it's meant to. Sometimes we won’t know it at the time, but it will be there.


“Brothers and sisters, sometimes our prayers are answered quickly with the outcome we hope for. Sometimes our prayers are not answered in the way we hope for, yet with time we learn that God had greater blessings prepared for us than we initially anticipated. And sometimes our righteous petitions to God will not be granted in this life. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “Faith also includes trust in God’s timing.” - Brook P. Hales

That is so firmly expressed about the way we may not have the prayers we want to be answered in the way that we want. Sometimes we have one plan and the Lord is on board, but He may be like “That’s cute. No.” He may just destroy the plan, burn it down, set it on fire, and will salt the earth so you can’t go back to it.


And sometimes that’s the best thing He can do for you.


Answers will come. It may not be what we expected or come when we expect it. Answers can come even when we think we have moved on―but they are answers that we can take into consideration and use as we move on with our lives.


The scriptures give us SO MANY examples of how to understand how we receive answers and discover revelation.

  • D&C 9:8-9 (If it’s right, burning in the bosom; if it’s wrong, a stupor of thought)

  • If your mind cannot focus, that may be a clue

  • D&C 8:2-3 (I will tell you in your mind and your heart)

  • There shouldn’t be conflict. Revelation should be clear

  • The same power that Moses used

  • 1 Nephi 17 (Nephi builds a boat solely from revelation)

  • Faith is required because sometimes we move blindly.

  • It takes continual effort

  • 1 Nephi 17:51 (if the Lord has done so many great things, how is it that He can’t instruct me to do this thing?) (HE CAN)

One helpful point is to WRITE DOWN THE REVELATION AS IT COMES. Write it down. Review it. Your fears and doubts will come. You can know one thing with revelation one day and face the ‘natural man’ is feeling otherwise the other day. The Lord doesn’t give you a notarized check with the truth on there for you. You have to hold onto it yourself.

We cannot impose our will. We have to stay resolved.


Hadestown came to Broadway in America in 2019 and Kaylee had a chance to see it. There are a lot of plot points in the musical retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. When Hades makes an offer to Orpheus about taking Eurydice back, he is given one rule: don’t look back. Hades makes that rule so he doesn’t have to be the bad guy―but Orpheus’ mind will be his own ruin. “I’m not going to be the bad guy. Your own mind is.” The fates sing the song about how “doubt creeps in” and can make the strongest mind weak.


We can do anything we want to so long as we don’t let the doubt overcome us.


There is revelation, the answers that the Lord is giving us. We can move mountains, we can do anything we want to do in this lifetime. But we can’t if we let the doubt win.


The Lord is always going to be there to answer your questions and give you the power to accomplish any goal you have in your life.


Baby Steps

It’s hard; expect to have days where you just have no idea what’s going on and all you can do is keep moving forward. We just need to be taking baby steps.


“Fear and faith cannot coexist in our hearts at the same time.” - Neil. L Anderson

Your faith is stronger than you think and it is enough to keep pushing forward.

We just need to be candid to get started.


“Some might ask, “But what about my doubts?” It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding… Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Remember what you have already. Do not let your doubt hold you prisoner. You have more faith and more power than you know. The Lord will bless you.


Doubts are fleeting but your faith need not be.


The Lord loves you SO MUCH. He is there for you. He will bless you as you strive to live His commandments, do His will, and learn of Him. He will be right there with you the entire way. He is cheering us on and ready to help us.


Like Anna’s song in Frozen 2, just do the next right thing. One step at a time. One question for one answer. The Lord is doing everything He can for us but there's only so much He can do until we are ready and we start moving.


A good way to start 2020, right?


You can start the new year, the new decade, doing anything you like. It’s a new day. Take time now to consider your resolutions and anything that you want to do. Be who you want to be. Spend this time being the person that Heavenly Father needs you to become.


Strengthen your testimony and do everything you can to align your will with His.


Hopefully, we have given you enough to get started strengthening your testimony and find the Christlike attributes that you want to apply to the rest of your life.


Let’s keep going! Bring it on, 2020.


Yeah, that didn’t age well. We know.


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