Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Testimony

One thing I have never wanted to prompt my kids to do is say their testimony. Prayers, talks, scriptures, apologies, manners--all of these words I am happy to put in their mouths. But testimony has always seemed too personal to prompt. I have also been in wards that are a monthly primary-a-mony, with one child following another, sometimes with older siblings telling kids who can barely talk what to say.

Still, every parent has their own way of teaching this important thing. . . .

A few weeks ago, Scallywag's primary teacher told me that during a lesson about temples, he had borne testimony about the temple. She paraphrased for me what he said and I was both surprised and impressed. Sunday was our fast day, and I leaned over to Scallywag and told him that if he wanted to, sometime, he could have a chance to share his testimony, that it wasn't just for grown ups to do.

He was silent for a moment and I wondered if he had even heard me. Then he replied, "I want to go today." I immediately backpedaled, reiterating to him what a testimony is and telling him that we could talk about it at home and practice for next month. He shook his head and said patiently, "I know what a testimony is. I want to do it today."

Handing a six year-old an open mic is a bit of a scary proposition, but up we went. We had to wait a moment for the sister ahead of us to finish and the whole time I was whispering frantically in his ear, "It is not time to tell a story. You could tell about Joseph Smith. You could tell about the church. You could say that you loved your family. It is not time to tell a story. You could say that you are grateful for the temple, or the priesthood in your home. It is not time to tell a story." Even with the podium all the way lowered and the booster, he still could barely be seen over the top. He suddenly looked very nervous, but leaned all the way into the microphone anyway, so that his lips were touching it.

Speaking softly he said, "I believe . . . that I know," long pause, voice lowered even more and emotional, "that this is the true church of Jesus Christ." He looked at me with wide eyes and whispered, "I think I'm done, Mom." I prompted him how to finish and he scooted off the stand.

The Spirit was palpable and many eyes were moist. With all that little Scallywag could have said, and all that he usually does say, he said exactly the right thing, getting to the heart of what matters. After the meeting, an Irish brother who has been a great neighbor to us came and shook my boy's hand very solemnly and then said to me, "That was shades of Belfast fifty years ago. My dear mother guiding me by the hand, not telling me what to say, just teaching and then letting go. Thank you." The Irishman's mother died when he was just twelve. How short is our time to teach--how long are their memories.

10 comments:

Christie said...

Precious. When Bug bore his testimony at 5 yrs. and came back with teary eyes, looking embarrassed, I asked him, "Did you feel warm inside?" He looked shocked that I would know how he had felt. I explained that he had felt the Holy Ghost. Children aren't too young to feel the Spirit. In fact, they're often more in tune than others much older. Thanks for sharing.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

It's moments like this that make parenthood the best calling on Earth, or in Heaven. :)

P.S. I think you wrote Scallywag's real name at one point. You might want to edit that.

amyjane said...

That is truly sweet. I'm kind of teary-eyed just thinking about it.

Sunnie said...

i love that story! i too have mixed feelings about what age, etc is appropriate for testimony sharing. but once they want to and can do it alone, i think it is okay. that is too too cute. i'm so glad you wrote that down. the simplest testimonies are sometimes the best.

Janssen said...

I too never want to be the one pushing my kids up there or letting them have full-rein with the microphone if they start to drift off into crazy land.

I'm glad your son did it just right. You're a good mom.

Caitlin said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. How true your neighbors words are, I really needed that reminder this week.

kanaboke said...

sheesh, I'm cryin' just reading this...thanks for sharing such a beautiful and sacred experience.

Slyck and Slim said...

Thanks for sharing that. Our children teach us so much about what's really important. They say it so much better than we can sometimes because they are able to simplify things and declutter it all so that what remains is truth. It is our job to teach and let them discover their own inner compass that will guide them throughout their lives. You are a wise mom and have taught your boys well.

Caitlin said...

Thanks for the tip with the ants, I think they were harvesting the mold off the leaves, but I'm not sure.

My husband made up the plans and went from there. He has some experience with woodworking, but nothing like this. He did have to buy a router and put things together with joiner biscuits so there are no nails showing. I know he read a few books and I can give you the titles when he gets home and I can ask him. If you want, I can e-mail you with more detailed information should your husband want it.

ELASTICWAISTBANDLADY said...

So many times I've stuffed that prompting to share my Testimony because I'm a chicken.

It's not often, but whenever my mini-Infidels feel the same promptings, we encourage them to bear their Testimony. I, too have been amazed at the clear and concise thoughts they've articulated while at the podium....thoughts that can only be attributed to divine inspiration. During the chaos of daily life it's easy to forget just how incredibly spiritual children are.

I try to remember this when they're driving me completely insane.