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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Story - Growing a Testimony

Here is a story that was taken from talk given by Elder Olsen, Fifth Quorum of the Seventy, at
the Las Vegas Lakes Stake Conference, Second Session on February 11, 2001. I don't think this was published anywhere officially. My friend took shorthand notes while she was there. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Plant the seeds of your doubts in the garden of obedience, and what will sprout is a brand new testimony.

I joined the Church with my wife when I was 19 and a year later we went through the Temple. A little while after this I began to have some serious doubts. I didn’t know if there was a God. And so I told my wife one night: “I don’t know if there is a God.” And she started crying, I’m sure thinking that her eternal marriage and sealing were being lost. Then she stopped crying, and she said to me: “I want to talk to you more about this tomorrow.” I said: “Alright.” The next day my wife said: “I want to talk to you some more about what you said last night.” Then she said to me: “Until you can tell me you know there isn’t a God I want to keep going to Church as a family.” And I thought this was fair and said: “Alright.” Then she upped the ante and said to me: “Until you can tell me that you know there isn’t a God I want to pay a full tithing.” And I told her that was alright too, I didn’t mind paying tithing, I had never had a problem paying tithing. Then she said to me: “Until you can tell me that you know there isn’t a God, I want us all to keep the Word of Wisdom, and I want us to say prayers as a family every day.” Again I told her alright, and finally she said: “When we were baptized we covenanted to serve in the Church. Until you can tell me that you know that there is not God, I want us to serve in whatever callings we are given.” And I told her yes, I thought I could do all of those things.

It wasn’t too long after that that we moved to New York. And it wasn’t too long after that that the Branch President called me into his office and said: “Brother Olsen, we would like to call you to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher.” He was a little taken aback when I replied: “Alright, but I don’t know if there is a God or not.” This wise and loving man told me: “We’d still like you to serve in this calling, as long as you promise not to make the classroom a forum for your doubts. You just bear testimony of the things that you know to be true. Do you think you can do that?” I told him, yes, and within a very little time I found my testimony. What did my wife do? She was so wise; she took my doubts and planted them in a garden of obedience. And a new testimony grew. Don’t be afraid of your doubts. Doubts are nothing but platforms to a stronger testimony. Just be obedient. Just be obedient. In obedience there is testimony, there is safety, there is peace. Ether 12:6 “You receive no witness until AFTER the trial of your faith.”

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