Striving to understand what you do not believe, embracing what you do know, and realizing God’s love are ways to help a struggling testimony, according to BYU–Hawaii faculty and sister missionaries. Those interviewed also said having patience and avoiding judgments are ways to help those who have questions.
Matthew Bowen, assistant professor of Religion, said those struggling with the gospel should be treated like children of God.
“We need to take the same approach with them God takes with us. We’re not defining them as the thing they’re struggling with. God doesn’t do that with us. He sees... what we can become, and we need to do that with friends and family who struggle. Always see the potential.”
Bowen emphasized treating others with love and patience as God does as well as avoiding judging others in their different challenges.
“If we get into the business of making judgments,... we’re not going to do them any favors. We will hurt rather than help them. Love them. Be patient with them.”
Sister Hannah Gearheart, a sister missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Utah, said being a good friend is another way to help those who need it. Even simple things, such as inviting someone to dinner, she added, can have a positive impact.
Focus on what you know
Bowen said those who struggle with their testimonies should focus on aspects of the gospel they do understand and believe. “Rather than emphasizing what you don’t know and what you don’t believe... start with what you really do know.”
Bowen added no matter how much you are struggling, most people can find something they believe within the gospel and can build off of those things. “Even people who are struggling with their testimonies the most, when they’re honest about it... they can find a lot of the good.”
Sister Savannah Manu, a sister missionary for the Church from New Zealand, said turning back to the fundamentals such as scripture study and church attendance will be helpful to those with doubts.
“If you stop doing those things, you will struggle. If you keep doing those things, you will be able to overcome that struggle,” she said.
Knowing God’s love for each person is essential to building a person’s testimony, according to Bowen. He said, “We, too often, underappreciate how much our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us.”
Studying the doctrine
Gearheart shared when she struggled with her beliefs, reading the Book of Mormon every day is how she found her faith again. “Simply reading the Book of Mormon, even just a couple verses a day, will help you get through it.”
Gearheart added when reading scriptures, she would add notes and study them instead of “reading to read.”
Finding answers through understanding and studying the gospel is another suggestion Bowen said he would give struggling members. “Really get to understand the doctrine. You can’t get an abiding testimony of something you don’t understand or understand very incompletely.”
For example, Bowen said, if you have questions on the doctrine about family, study the Family Proclamation and find scriptures and talks discussing the family in the gospel sense.
Along with studying the principles, seeking personal revelation is needed when working for a testimony. Bowen said, “All of us have to seek confirmatory revelation. We have the privilege of seeking, and we need to seek confirmatory revelation.”
He added how ultimately church members will not be able to forever rely on the testimony of their parents and others within the Church to stay strong in the gospel. They will need to have their own foundation to build upon.