I’m simultaneously reading from both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon, currently, and I’ve begun to pull a common thread from these different works of scripture. Both books are replete with God (or Jesus) instructing their disciples, following a powerful spiritual experience, to go and write down what has happened.
“Write the things which ye have seen and heard…Write the works of this people which shall be, even as hath been written, of that which hath been,” Jesus says in 3 Nephi after teaching the believers what it means to follow him.
As someone who once felt massive trepidation at even mentioning religion online or in general conversation, I used to interpret this instruction to write what I have seen and heard as a personal exercise, intended to solidify the experiences in my mind, and record them for my great-great-great grandchildren, who might one day laugh at my generation who had clunky old-fashioned cars that couldn’t drive themselves. Anything I personally learned about God or Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, I basically kept to myself.
This week I saw a production of the musical The Prince of Egypt, which features the account from Exodus where God speaks to Moses and commands him to approach Pharaoh and demand that he free the Hebrew slaves. Moses understandably struggles with this task, as Pharaoh doesn’t listen to him, and a host of plagues are released upon the Egyptian people.
I have pondered God’s approach in this story and what it means to first hear something He tells us and then share it. God could have spoken directly to Ramses, but He chose to include Moses in the chain of communication. Why is this?
There are doubtless multiple exegeses, but my interpretation is that God wanted Moses to be changed by the experience of first listening to Him and then repeating the instruction to Pharaoh. My reading of this story is that God knew this process would do more for Moses than it would for Ramses. And perhaps there was value in having Moses’s people know that he advocated for them.
Years ago, after the birth of my youngest child and when my severely disabled second son’s behavior issues created a vortex of parenting trauma, I began to journal about raising my children. I was literally one entry into my writing when the Holy Spirit plainly told me that what I was experiencing and writing about wasn’t only for me. God straight up told me to start writing a blog, which was something I’d said I would never do. I didn’t like the mommy blogging world. I didn’t have that sort of life, nor any interest in talking about, say, my glorious laundry room! with detergent pods in a glass jar! and space for art supply storage! for the crafts I hypothetically did with my children! because it was Tuesday! (For the record, if you have a lovely laundry room and make beautiful crafts with your children, I sincerely applaud you. And I’m happy you can do laundry in a beautiful space. These things aren’t in my wheelhouse. The End.)
But there I sat late one night, with a premature infant attached to me, at the side of my preschooler’s bed (he wouldn’t sleep, ever) with an ipad on my lap and a buzzing in my brain that said I should write not only for me, but for anyone who knew how to use the internet and who cared to read it.
I believe this is the same concept of Jesus telling his followers to write what he has taught them.
God gave me an unusual family life. He also has given me strength beyond my own capacity to carry my burdens. Because of this, my hope in God’s love and power to do miracles has grown exponentially. This is the story He asked me to write.
A few years ago I was seeing a counselor because I felt myself burning out as a special needs parent. That experience kick-started what I earnestly call my non-ironic spiritual journey. It legitimately changed me. I’ll happily use a bullhorn to loudly proclaim the benefits of therapy to learn mindfulness and introspection in overcoming our deepest hardships. Therapy works, yo.
During that experience, I learned that God wasn’t disappointed in me, but that He loves me. During one session, I told my counselor about a series of vivid dreams in which I unequivocally knew that God was showing me that he has given me all the tools I need to successfully be a mother to my unique children.
Our eyes were both glistening and running over when she inexplicably said, “I have found that every time the Spirit teaches us something important, God immediately provides a way for us to turn around and share that truth with other people.”
Jesus told the people of the New World to write what they saw and heard. God told Moses to repeatedly implore Pharaoh. Neither of these scenarios were because God the Father and His Son couldn’t do it themselves. They gave people the opportunity to magnify themselves by listening and then sharing what they knew.
There is beauty in the lessons we learn, and in speaking what we know.
My life has shown me that God’s gifts are in both the hearing of truth, AND in writing how it has changed me.
This is what I’ve come to understand: we receive a double measure of God’s power when we share the wisdom He offers.