I don’t get up to bear my testimony unless I’m promted to by the Spirit. My heart starts pounding, and I know I have to get up.
Generally, I’ve already been thinking about my testimony and things I might want to say. Then my heart starts pounding and I know, oh boy, I have to do it.
There have been times when my heart’s started pounding and I had no clue what I should say, though. First time it happened, I went up and winged it. But this Sunday I was totally not ready for it and it was all rather…well, brutal.
I hadn’t even really thought about it being fast Sunday. I’m diabetic and don’t usually fast. Often during fast meeting I’m sitting there thinking “I don’t want to go up today. I hope I don’t have to go up today. I just want to listen to people today.” Interspersed with “I hope my kids don’t go up today, it’s so nerve-wracking when they do. I just want to listen to people today.” I’m not overly anxious about it. Mostly I am just hoping I can sit and enjoy other people’s testimonies.
So I was taken totally by surprised when as soon as I saw the first person go up to the microphone my heart started pounding, hard. I thought, “Maybe it’ll pass. Maybe the Spirit is just telling me to pay attention to this sister!”
And it faded a bit. I kept thinking, “If I’m supposed to go up, and I don’t, I’m going to feel really horrible the rest of the day.” But I had NO CLUE what to talk about. Nothing. I was a total blank. And I just couldn’t do it without something in mind to talk about. Eventually a favorite phrase of mine from the scriptures came to me: Full purpose of heart. And I thought, OK, I can handle that.
Meanwhile my daughter kept leaning on me. Holding my hand. Laying her head on my lap. Pulling my shoe off. I kept pushing her away, she was driving me crazy. I had to go up there soon! I can’t get up when you’re laying on me! (She’s 16, btw, not 6.)
I must’ve struggled for about 20 minutes, my heart poubding the entire time, before I got up and bore my testimony. I was wearing new really high heels, slip ons, and I worried I’d stumble on my way up. But I didn’t. No, I stumbled on my way back down. I was shaking a lot worse after than before.
Now you’d think I could relax after I was done. But I couldn’t really. Because I knew what was coming next. And yep, as soon as the meeting was over and I stood up to leave the pew, a kind woman I didn’t know was putting her arm around me and commenting on my testimony. I can easily bare my soul to a bunch of strangers (this post being a fine example), but one-on-one emotional confrontations (even positive ones) are a personal nightmare.
I looked at the far side of the chapel, which had the door closest to the library and my primary room, and I saw all the people I’d normally be wading through to get to it, and I knew it for what it was: A minefield of people who would put their arm around me and say something nice. So I bolted out the nearest door, down the empty hallway, taking the long way around.
I knew I’d made the right choice when my husband later told me how many people were commenting to him about my testimony. I was actually nervous the rest of the day that someone would come up to me and say something nice. I was relieved when my primary class didn’t mention it.
I don’t usually react that way. Just something this Sunday was putting me in full on avoidance/panic mode. Often when I’m prompted to bear my testimony I hear from someone later that it was exactly what they’d needed to hear. I figured that was the case this time, too, I was just so unprepared for it I panicked.
So under what circumstances do you bear your testimony? Is it something that’s easy for you? Difficult? I don’t know why it was so hard for me this Sunday. I think it was a combination of it taking me so by surprise—I tend to have to warm up to things a bit—and how I had no clue what I was supposed to say. Trauma.