Gaining a Testimony
Part of a series about My Faith Journey.
Like many true-believing Mormons, I read the Book of Mormon (in my case, it was at age 16). I enjoyed my initial read and found many teachings and stories that were pertinent to my life. At the conclusion of my reading, I tried "Moroni's Promise" which appears in the last chapter (Moroni 10:3-5). The church teaches that this is the way that a person gains a testimony, or a "spiritual witness" of the truth. It says:
3 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.
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.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
So, how do we know when we're feeling the Holy Ghost? Doctrine & Covenants 9:7-9 explains:
7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
So, after I read the Book of Mormon, I prayed and asked if it was true, and sure enough, I got that warm, fuzzy, tingly, feeling, which I interpreted to mean that the Holy Ghost was witnessing to me that the book was true. I had likewise been taught that, if that Book of Mormon was true, it proves that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
At age 16, I accepted this line of reasoning and I was a true-believing member. This event started me on a path of church service that would last for the next 27 years. I served a mission at age 19 and shared the Book of Mormon with lots of other people and helped them to gain their own spiritual witness. I got married in the temple at age 23. I served in numerous church callings, including Elder's Quorum President (my favorite calling) and two bishoprics (once as an Executive Secretary and once as a First Counselor). I raised my three daughters in the church and taught them to believe all the things I had been raised to believe.
I was in the box.