"To do list" oriented people: how do you best gain a testimony?


Jane_Doe
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For context: I am trying to improve teaching my elementary aged daughter about the Gospel & strengthening her testimony. She's also extremely "to do list" oriented: she thrives/required having clear stated expectations, a stated goal, outlined schedule of the day, and stated check marks to get there. Which is VERY different than how I'm wired! And I don't want her getting baptized just because it's an expected box to check -- granted, she'll be ecstatic to check the box. The Gospel isn't just going through outward doings (obviously), though also don't want to discount my daughter's testimony because she wired differently than I and does enjoy the outward.
 
So, my question for to-do-list oriented people: what's your experience with learning the Gospel? Do you have any insight here?
 
Pinging @Backroads because her teaching experience could be really useful here?
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Heh - here are 4  bullet points from my story.  Perhaps they'll be helpful.

Quote

It was time to figure out for myself if the church was true or not.  It had specific truth claims.  These could be evaluated, and found groundless or grounded.

Alma 32:27 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. 

Moroni 10:4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal 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.  

Ok - so there you go.  The scriptures identified me, and gave me a path to follow, through which I could undeniably verify the truth.  I had only to make one assumption - that my senses would not lie to me under controlled conditions.  A tough assumption for a minor in philosophy to make.  What if life is a dream?  Ok - set it aside.  If my life is a dream, then so be it.  I'll work with what I've got.  I'll work towards truth.  I know there is a bunch of stuff that I don't know, and I have been given a series of hoops to jump through, and promised a rather important promise, should I jump through them correctly.

So I had Alma 32:27, and Moroni 10:4.  The first promised a slowly evolving process from faith to knowledge, through the assumption that if it looks good, and acts good, and produces good fruit, then it is good.  Not really enough to base a testimony on, in my opinion.  But Moroni promised something else - "he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.".  That sounded a little more like it.  So, when I looked at the verse, it laid out my side of the bargain:
 
1- "And when ye shall receive these things" - Before it would work, I had to read the Book of Mormon.  But more than read it, to "receive" it.  I had to internalize it - deeply reading for meaning, more than just a cursory glance.  Not a critical reading, looking for faults.  I had to read it, with the notion that it very well might be exactly what it claimes to be - scripture.  True.  The word of God.  A literal history of people who literally lived.
 
2- "I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true" 
So, I had to pray.  Not just pray, but pray in the name of Christ.  That means, I had to be worthy of his name.  The guy who owns The Simsons brand, will let any amount of stupid garbage bear the name - Bart Simpson toothpaste, cheap flimsy Homer travel mugs, stupid T-shirts make out of inferior materials, whatever.  But Jesus is more choosy.  If you are going to bear his name, you need to be following his teachings.  
 
This is possible to do, without actually believing in him.  After all, I follow some of Sun-Tzu's "art of war" notions, but I don't believe he is a god, and I also don't share his faith.   The best advice for a happy marriage, the notion that I've used as a foundation for mine, came from a drunk Tongan I met in an alleyway one night.  I follow that advice daily, yet I'm not a big fan of the guy who gave it to me.
 
So, to take upon myself the name of Christ, I had to do and be a couple of main things:
* Not sinning
* Loving my neighbor
* Desiring to know a God I could love
 
I did not have to be perfect, I figured it was a matter of heart.  It wasn't how close to my destination I was, it mattered only that my compass was pointed in the right direction, and I was following it.  Yes, there was some doubt about what the compass was pointing to - was it true north, or just wishful thinking.  But that didn't matter - I was just trying to satisfy this part of the scripture - and be able to pray in the name of Christ.
 
So, I prayed.  I prayed nightly, starting about halfway through the book.  I prayed fervently.  My prayers were short and simple: "Dear Heavenly Father, if thou exist, thou knowest my heart.  Thou knowest I am sincere.  I desire to know of the truthfulness of this work.  Please show it to me.  In the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, amen".  Simple, plain, sincere, honest, and pretty much daily.  
 
3- "and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,"
Ok - 3 requirements - and I had to have all 3 of them.  In years past, I had read the BoM and prayed in the name of Christ, and got nothing.  I was missing real intent - I figured I wouldn't get an answer, and praying was a way of proving my guess true.

It's about where my heart is.  It needs to be sincere, not with an ulterior motive, burdened by sin, or trying to get something else out of the experience.  My intent had to be true.  No faith, no promise.
 
I can't impress enough on everyone, the importance of these 3 items.  They're related, but if you are missing one, don't be expecting anything.  If you are having a hard time figuring out where you are on these 3, you're probably not there.  
 
Throughout the process, I was comfortable with my part of the bargain.  It was like showing up for a test being very, very well prepared - there's a confidence based on the fact that you know what you're doing.  I wasn't lying to myself, or bending any rules, or figuring out the least I could do to satisfy the bare minimum - I was there, and there solidly.
 
I did not believe in God - but I didn't have to.  I just had to want to.  I was not setting aside doubts - they held the center stage.  
 
4- "He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
 
So, what can I say - it happened.  

 

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Posted (edited)

We actually read Moroni 10:3-5 together tonight. After explaining to her what it meant, she said “but I already know the scripture are true.”

“But you need to know because you asked God yourself, not just because Mommy and Daddy told you.” 

“Ok, Heavenly Father are the scriptures true?  He said yes.  What do we do next?”

…. Not sure here…

 

Alma 32 and highliighting the word “faith” was her assignment to do over night and we’re talk about it tomorrow afternoon. 

Edited by Jane_Doe
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It sounds like your daughter has a wonderful childlike faith. It reminds me of Adam when the angel asked him why he offered sacrifice and he said, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”

She is at the age of leaning on the testimony of others, her parents and leaders. That’s okay. Don’t discount that too readily. “More blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am” (3 Nephi 12:2). She has years in which to come to know for herself.

Your role (and it already sounds like you are doing a great job at it) is to teach her the doctrine of Christ. Help her to understand what commitment she will be making at baptism. Help her understand how to gain a testimony. It’s a process that she will love because it involves checking off boxes every day. Teach her the steps along the covenant path. Baptism is just the first one. It is a lifelong process of checking off little and big boxes. Help her understand that all those boxes are to get her to the ultimate objective of becoming like her Heavenly Parents and living with them in the Celestial Kingdom. Utilize the children & youth program. Help her learn to set and achieve goals that will help her along the process.

You’re doing better than you think, Jane. Keep doing what you are doing.

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 4/23/2022 at 5:01 PM, Jane_Doe said:
For context: I am trying to improve teaching my elementary aged daughter about the Gospel & strengthening her testimony. She's also extremely "to do list" oriented: she thrives/required having clear stated expectations, a stated goal, outlined schedule of the day, and stated check marks to get there. Which is VERY different than how I'm wired! And I don't want her getting baptized just because it's an expected box to check -- granted, she'll be ecstatic to check the box. The Gospel isn't just going through outward doings (obviously), though also don't want to discount my daughter's testimony because she wired differently than I and does enjoy the outward.
 
So, my question for to-do-list oriented people: what's your experience with learning the Gospel? Do you have any insight here?
 
Pinging @Backroads because her teaching experience could be really useful here?

I realize this is an old ping and I apologize. I'm a bit of a box checker myself. I'm not doing it to be frivolous that way, but because I realize those boxes I check are meaningful.

Be specific in why these things are important. Satisfy that need to understand. Provide lots of resources behind what's taught. Don't just expect her to learn the gospel just because.

 

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@Jane_Doe,

First, let me give a disclaimer.  I don't think what you've described is something that has a realistic answer.  The whole point in the New Covenant is that we're talking about an internal change which requires internal action, not outward observances.

That said, we have some advice and counsel from scripture that tends to point the way.

1) Ordinances.  I'm assuming she's gone through ordinances.  The reason why we have them is that we are physical beings that require physical actions to reinforce reality to us.  It isn't just a vague notion in our minds or hearts.  The physical act links the mental and spiritual into a physical reality that we cannot deny.  We "may" have felt or thought something.  But we "know" that we went through a physical ordinance with records to back it up.

So, study & ponder ordinances of the gospel.  What they are, their history, their purpose, and what they really mean on a deep level.  Ask: What does it men to ME?

2) Prayer. Again a physical action to make our thoughts a reality.  Pray for faith, testimony, and knowledge.  It would be helpful if she could pray vocally in a place where she can be free to talk without anyone coming in and listening.  In that setting, there is no need to bow her head.  I'd advise to look into the sky as she prays.  Ask her to really dig deep into her own heart to see who she is now, and who she wants to become.  Remind her that the beautiful lesson of the gospel is that we don't need to remain who we are.  We can always strive to be better.  And with the hope of Christ and faith in His Atonement, she can be.

3) Scriptures.  Reading is one thing. But studying and pondering is another.  I believe we've had several threads on this, so that should be enough.  If you want more commentary on that, let me know.

4) Religious observance.  Go to church each week.  Participate in the activities as if you "expect" not just "let's see", but "expect" to feel the Spirit.  Talk with her each week about how YOU felt the Spirit during church or during an activity.  Ask her how she felt about the same thing.

5) Re-commit.  I cannot stress enough how the entire point of the gospel is that we re-commit all the time to be on the Lord's side.  Every time we fall, we get back up.  The gospel does not say we'll never fall again.  It reminds us to get back up each time we fall.  The Atonement is not just a one-and-done fix.  It is the hope that gives us the strength to get back up each time we fall.

6) Service.  It is no secret that the Savior's life was spent in the service of others.  To follow Him, we need to serve others in any capacity that we can reasonably do.

Again, to the disclaimer: Cain obeyed the Lord in "action".  But his heart was far from the Lord.  That is why his offering was rejected.

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