According to Webster’s Dictionary, a witness is someone who has a personal knowledge of something. In the case of members of the church, this would be the gospel. However, how do we stand as a witness if we aren’t ourselves witnesses yet? You can’t have someone testify in court who didn’t even see the crime.
Although we don’t have to know all you are standing up for perfectly, we must at least believe it. We strive to strengthen our knowledge of the gospel and all it has to offer. We must first put forth effort to gain this knowledge. There are some cases where the knowledge came to someone through a great experience, but for most of us it comes slowly through hard work, determination, and love. We can’t sit at home watching TV and eating our cheese puffs, just waiting for some great epiphany. No, we must work. With hard work we can gain this knowledge. I myself find that I can get caught in a daily routine of just reading my scriptures and saying my prayers without actually paying attention to what I am reading or saying. When I put off my daily communication with my Heavenly Father by just doing these things because I’m told to, the experiences I could have had, don’t happen. This can often result in a feeling of loneliness, like no one is there to guide us, but He is always there. If we will just reach out our hands as far as we possibly can, our Heavenly Father will grasp them and pull us up from the raging waters we are so close to drowning in, but we must try. We must read our scriptures as if they are the next Hunger Games. We must learn to love every “and it came to pass…” and “in the reign of the judges…” We must also strive to gain a relationship with our Father in Heaven. He is the best friend we could ever ask for. He is never too busy or likes someone else more than you. He will never ditch your plans. He will never ignore you or talk about you behind your back because He is perfect, and every imperfect soul needs someone perfect to look up to. I know every single one of you looks up to someone. Whether they are famous or just an average person, for some reason you strive to have the qualities that they posses. This person should be our Heavenly Father. We should want to be like Him, not because we are told to, but because in our heart it is our dream.
Another way we can become closer to our Father in Heaven is to learn. We must fully understand the atonement and the gospel. When we understand and take advantage of the atonement’s healing power our bond with the Savior grows. Like a rope, each little string is what-in the end-binds us to our Heavenly Father. If we are to overlook these little strings that seem unimportant and useless, our rope will rely solely on others and a little bit on our own weak testimony. Once we have grasped the gospel and have become a witness we can show others what they too can become. Be the example for them. You don’t have to go around showing everyone that you have high moral standards and are wicked cool because of it. No, we must be humble, and when the time is right share. If someone looks up to you they are more likely to listen to what you have to say.
It’s a process. You must first become a witness, then become a friend and example of the church, then lastly-if the time is right-teach. Would you listen to some infomercial telling you that if you drink this product you will have the perfect body in just two days? Or are you more likely to listen to your friend who tells you this instead of some weird guy that interrupts your favorite show? So if we are more likely to listen to people we look up to and love, we must strive to be those people. We must try our absolute hardest to be examples to others of a good friend and person. People often look up to their friends. So go out there and make friends. Be an example to them.
I personally have an experience where I talked about the church in my class. This was a class I was very comfortable in. I am a friend with everyone in it, including the teacher. One day we were talking about the book we were reading, and how it is very centered around the Catholic religion. The topic of religion then came up, and my teacher-who is Catholic-starting asking questions. Her first one was if any of the Catholic kids enjoyed their church. To my surprise, none of them said they did. They said it was boring and not at all exciting. She then asked if any members had questions about the Catholic religion. All the Catholic kids raised their hands explaining that the church as a whole was confusing, and had many parts they did not understand. My teacher’s next remark was that she didn’t quite agree with the fact that their priests and popes couldn’t get married. She then asked the class if anyone else in another church was allowed to get married as a priest. I raised my hand and explained that we did not have just one person appointed to speak every Sunday, but that we picked members of the congregation to speak. This amazed my teacher. I explained that we had a bishop that ran the ward, but it was the members who were given topics they were assigned to speak about, and that I myself had talked in church too. After my remarks she asked me if I enjoyed my church. Unlike the others, I responded that I absolutely loved my church and loved going. This surprised everyone, and my teacher ended on saying, “See? Churches can be fun.” Afterwards, I was talking to my friend who told me that our church seemed so fun and how she loved the dances and everything. This lead into a discussion about the basic principles of our church. I was talking about it with two of my friends. It was because of our friendship that they listened and were willing to bring it back up with me after class. I had been an example of our church to them. And now that my entire class knows, I find myself striving to live a better life and be an even better person. As we stand as witnesses out strength and experience grows along with our testimony.