One common misconception about the Book of Mormon is that it was written by Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is actually a collection of testimonies and histories written by ancient prophets. Nephi, one of the ancient prophets who helped author the Book of Mormon, explains:
” 26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” – 2 Nephi 25:26
The prophets recorded their testimonies and experiences so that their children would know where to find remission for their sins.
I have to admit, I’ve always loved this scripture. In the past, I’ve always loved it because of the first half – where it says “we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ.” Recently, however, I’ve started to notice the latter portion of the verse: “And we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know…” I have four children, and am in the thick of motherhood. I have a testimony, and one of my greatest concerns is the development of the testimonies of my children. I want them to know Christ and how they can receive a remission of their sins.
Of course, in helping my children to develop their own testimonies, I can point them to the scriptures, and I do. This is accomplished through Family Home Evening, Family Scripture Study, Family Prayer, and church attendance. I love these moments that we spend together, but I’ve been feeling like I want to do something to really share my testimony with them.
So – in the spirit of Family History – and keeping a personal history, I have decided to begin keeping my spiritual personal history.
A quick digression (even though this post seems like it has been a complete digression). I have done a bit of family history work, and while I’ve felt a connection to the ancestors that I’ve done work for, I don’t really know any of them. I don’t have journals or stories. Well, let me take that back. I have one short personal history – of my great-grandmother. In her history, she doesn’t tell much about her testimony or life. She relates a few things – where she was born, the names of her siblings, the name of the store her father owned. Then, she spends a long time telling about the time she had a tapeworm! GROSS! I have always thought that this personal history is kind of funny. Of all the things that she wanted her posterity to know – she related the tapeworm story?!
Now, I have to wonder – what kind of legacy am I leaving? What will my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren know about me? (I haven’t had tape-worms, so that’s out…)
I do keep journals. And they are embarrassing. I have at least 4 journals from my teenage years. Every entry mentions a different boy. Or two. (I thought I wasn’t boy-crazy!) As I’ve gotten older, my journals are marginally better, but they are still more about the troubles I have faced.
On another note, when I read Nephi’s words, I feel close to him. I feel like the selections he has included in the scriptures help me to understand a part of his Spiritual Development. I can see why he says that his soul delights in the scriptures – throughout his experiences prior, he has used his knowledge of the scriptures as a source of courage. Nephi’s courage was based on Moses’ courage. We see this development through the record he has kept.
While I don’t claim to be a scripture writer, I have thought that it would be a good idea to keep a Spiritual Personal History. I am making one copy for each of my children. I do not plan on giving these to my children until they are older. (I’m thinking that when they go to the temple they will get it).
So here’s what to do:
- Determine how you would like to record your spiritual personal history.
- By hand – I have decided to write my history by hand. I like handwriting. It is just a crazy thing. Although, I admit there are times I wish I was typing it. Typing would be faster.
- Word Processing – this is a simple and quick (not to mention neat) way to record your personal spiritual history. Plus, there are many websites where you can import your word document and have it printed as a book. If you have a lot of kids this may be the way to go!
- Begin reading through old journals. – This is where you will start getting your content. I got my first journal when I was eight. I’m looking for entries where I record my testimony or any spiritual experience. Unfortunately, I didn’t record many of these.
- As you read through your journal, think of how your testimony began to develop at that time. – For example: as a fifteen year-old, my testimony came from spiritual experiences like girls’ camp. Even though I wasn’t a sober-minded 15 year old girl, I did love the way that the Spirit felt. In my spiritual personal history, I explain this – by giving specific examples on how I felt my testimony growing during that period.
- As you go through this, it is really great to see how our testimonies truly come line upon line.
- Consider including actual journal entries -in the words that you used at that time in your life. – This will help to show how your testimony developed over time.
- Consider including your Patriarchal Blessing – and also the events that surrounded your receiving it.
- This personal history is not meant to be every single spiritual experience you’ve had. Instead, like the Book of Mormon, it is an abridgment of your testimony – how it developed over the years.
- As you consider what to include, remember Nephi’s words: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” This is what you are doing – writing your testimony so that your children will know what source they out to look to for a remission of their sins. They will read your words and know that you knew.
So, I encourage you to begin your own spiritual personal history! And if you’ve already done so, comment here with a few hints/tips!
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