Every year at Christmas, when we gather with our family to celebrate the birth of the Savior, we share a gift of the heart. For our family, a gift of the heart is an opportunity for each person to share a talent, an experience, or something they have done or learned that has been personally meaningful during the past year. The gift of the heart always reflects a witness of our love for the Savior. Sharing these experiences invites a spirit of love and unity and creates a deep sense of gratitude for the temporal and spiritual blessings we have received.
Similarly, every Sunday in Young Women, we begin a Come Follow Me lesson with the “share experiences” portion of the lesson. “At the beginning of each class, invite the young women to share, teach and testify about the experiences they have had applying what they learned in the previous week’s lesson. This will encourage personal conversion and help the young women see the relevance of the gospel in their daily lives.”
As we follow this direction, sharing gospel experiences is an opportunity to invite the Spirit of the Lord and help young women become witnesses of Jesus Christ. As they speak from the heart and share, teach and testify of gospel principles, the Holy Ghost will confirm truth. This can be particularly effective when a class president is prepared to lead by sharing her experience. The young woman who is speaking and those who are listening feel the Spirit and grow in love and unity one with another. Sharing experiences is a gift of spirit and a gift of truth, where young women grow in understanding “and [all] are edified and rejoice together” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:22).
As the disciples of Jesus Christ followed Him, He offered them many opportunities to share what they had learned. Arriving at the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked them, “Who do men say that I the Son of Man am?” The disciples shared several names. Then Jesus asked, “But who say ye that I am?” It was Peter who answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Peter’s response was a simple and powerful witness of what he had learned by the Spirit. His testimony must have been sincere, because Jesus answered, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Peter had received knowledge by the Spirit and in sharing his witness he was blessed and prepared for further responsibility in the Lord’s kingdom (see Matthew 16:13-19).
Four days after the passing of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, Jesus traveled to Bethany. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went to meet him. In a conversation where Martha shares her knowledge of the Savior’s teachings, Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life: He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Then Jesus asks, “Believeth thou this?” Martha’s response affirms her faith. “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come in to the world.” Martha applied the teachings of Christ to her life experience, and her testimony stands as a witness to the world of the power and glory of Jesus Christ, our Savior (John 11:14-40).
In our day, disciples of Christ also are commanded to live His gospel and then bear witness of Him and of His teachings. Young women cannot be anonymous in living the gospel. They have covenanted to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places. Neither can young women be dependent on another’s testimony. Young women gain confidence and assurance as they practice articulating the experiences they have had applying gospel principles in relevant ways. They share what they have learned and how they have felt. As they exercise the faith to speak, their testimonies grow. President Boyd K. Packer taught, “Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it” (“The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge,” New Era, January 2007, p. 6).
Through sharing experiences young women begin to feel the Lord’s love for them. They recognize their divine identity, that they are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal progress and that they have the ability to influence and strengthen others. Their words spoken by the Spirit of truth, are a gift of testimony in the minds and hearts of those who speak and those who listen. This Christmas season may we encourage young women to share experiences that they may be blessed as the Lord has promised, “For the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you” (Doctrine and Covenants 62:3).