The theme that I felt led to choose for our family and homeschool this year (and perhaps beyond) is I have learned for myself.
There are a couple of things in particular that led me to making this a focus for this year.
The first is this story from our family history where my great-great grandmother, Thilda, learned for herself that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. That experienced changed her life – and the lives of all of her posterity.
She and her family went through many difficult challenges after they joined the church. Why was Thilda willing to go through these amazingly hard things? Why was the pain worth it to her? Why did she keep going and not give up?
I believe it was because she had her own personal sacred grove experience, right there behind that lilac bush. She had learned for herself. And no one could take that away from her. No one could take away the personal witness that she received when she uttered that faith filled prayer. The answer to that prayer (and many others I’m sure) carried her through the challenges that she faced throughout her life.
She had learned for herself.
The second is this quote that really stood out to me during General Conference:
“As a child, Joseph Smith learned of God from his family. His efforts to discover God’s will for him caused Joseph to search for the truth among many different Christian denominations, ponder diligently the scriptures, and pray sincerely to God.
As young Joseph Smith returned to his home from the Sacred Grove immediately after the appearance of the Father and the Son, he spoke first with his mother. As he “leaned up to the fireplace, [his] mother inquired what the matter was. [Joseph] replied, ‘Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.’ [He] then said to [his] mother, ‘I have learned for myself.’”
Joseph’s experience provides a powerful pattern of learning that each of us should emulate. We too need to learn for ourselves.”
(David A. Bednar, Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing, April 2019)
As I spent a lot of time preparing for homeschooling last spring and summer, it was really amazing to me to see how I was being led by the spirit. It was interesting to see how I thought I would use certain curriculum, but throughout this process of learning, researching, and planning, I was led to find other curriculum and methods of teaching that I felt really drawn to.
I felt that Heavenly Father was leading me to focus on simple truths and on the principles of discovering truth for myself (and my kids for themselves). Everything that I have been felt drawn to, centers on discovering truth and learning for yourself (as opposed to just being told something and taking someone else’s word for it.) …
You see, I don’t want to just take someone’s word for something. I want to discover truth for myself. And I want my children to discover truth for themselves as well. I want us to have our own personal experiences with the Gospel of Jesus Christ (which includes all truth, in any and all subjects.). I want us to gain our own personal witnesses.
Even when it comes to the gospel… I don’t want my kids to just believe in Jesus Christ and this gospel/church just because I do and just because it’s what they’ve been “taught” (told) their whole lives.
I want them to choose it for themselves. I want them to discover (or witness) this gospel for themselves. I want them to discover Jesus Christ in their own personal lives. I want them to discover truth. I want them to know for themselves.
God doesn’t expect us to just take someone else’s word for anything. He has prepared a way for us to find out the truth of anything, for ourselves. The way that we do this is through going straight to the source of all knowledge – Him.
We can pray and ask of God. Sometimes He will speak directly to us and give us the answer right then. Other times, He will lead us to resources, friends, family members, etc. that will answer the questions that we have.
Doing the work to gain your own witness can take a lot of time and energy and sometimes waiting. But I know that it is worth it. Having your own witness (that you seek to always remember and look back on, while also adding more witnesses as well) is what will keep you grounded in hard times. It will keep you going.