On Fast Sundays in Sacrament Meeting (our main worship service) congregation members are invited to get up and share their testimonies. Our four year old, V, always wants to get up. Because four year olds can be… loquacious… and sometimes say things that don’t make sense, I always grill him before he goes up (out of principle, I don’t “help” our kids with their testimonies when they are at the pulpit saying it – if I were to help them, it would be my testimony, and not theirs – if they are going to bear their testimony in front of people, they need to learn to have their own testimony. I’ll help them at home, or even in the pew, but once they get up there, it’s all on their own).
I’m glad I grilled V on Sunday because at first he was talking about Santa Claus hurting Jesus or something crazy like that (four year old imaginations are… active). Usually I tell him that he gets to go up and tell everyone the things he knows are true (and then I give him some ideas, like “I know Jesus is my Savior” “I know Heavenly Father loves me.” “I know the scriptures are true.”)
On Sunday, his testimony (which he ran by me in the pew, and then bore powerfully – as powerfully as a four year old can – which believe me, it’s pretty powerful – at the pulpit) was this:
“Jesus died on the cross for us.
If we obey Him we can live with Him again forever.”
Last night before bed I was reading in a little book I found (probably at DI? I have no clue where this book came from. Maybe my husband’s stash of books we got last fall from his folks’ house after we finally bought our own place? Who knows) called What Latter-day Stripling Warriors Learn from their Mothers. I reached for that particular book last night because I came to Alma 53 in the Book of Mormon in my personal scripture reading before bed.
For those of you unfamiliar with Alma chapter 53, it is in this chapter where the Nephites (who have been doing a great job defending themselves against the Lamanites, and even took a bunch of Lamanites prisoner – thanks to Captain Moroni and Lehi) start getting beat down a little by the Lamanites again (“thus because of iniquity amongst themselves, yea, because of dissensions and intrigue among themselves”) and the people of Ammon (who had “taken an oath that they never would shed blood more”) were “moved with compassion and were desirous to take up arms in defence of their country.”
Well, turns out breaking covenants is frowned upon, and Helaman (another mighty Nephite military leaders) helped persuade them not to break their covenants.
But it turns out those men who had made covenants had sons who hadn’t made a covenant not to fight. So they rose up, took up arms, and “entered into a covenants to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they would never give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.” I think it is interesting that we always talk about the Stripling warriors and how much their mothers taught them – but what about what their fathers taught them? Their fathers taught them about making and keeping covenants. Although the purpose of the covenant for the sons was different than the covenant of their fathers, those boys knew how to make and keep covenants because they watched their fathers make a keep covenants.
I love the story of the Stripling Warriors, and I had never really thought much about what they learned from their fathers either, but I thought it was really profound that they were willing to enter into such a covenant to protect the Nephites.
Back to the book I was reading. As I was reading I thought a lot about what the stripling warriors said to Helaman “We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” and I got to thinking, “Do my kids know that I know?” and “What did their mothers know? What do I need to know and make sure my kids don’t doubt that I know it?” I thought about the characteristics of these young boys as described in Alma 53:20-21 “they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all – they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.” Children model what they see, so if I want my children to be like the stripling warriors, I must be like them – courageous, strong, be active, be true, be sober. And I must teach them to keep the commandments of God (by keeping those commandments myself).
In Alma 56:47, Helaman describes what they learned from their mothers, “yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” So their mothers taught them faith in God. And they “did not doubt [their] mothers knew it.”
I want my children to be able to say that about me – I want them to know that if they have faith, God will deliver them from whatever trial or tribulation they may face. And I want them to know that I have a testimony. How do I do that? I guess I share my testimony with them every day, and I live according to my testimony.
How can I show my children that I know the gospel is true? How can I show them that I have faith? What things do I need to know so that my children will be able to say “We do not doubt our mother knew it”?