Tuesday, September 28, 2010


So this is likely going to unnerve a handful of people. Some may think I'm a heathen. Others sacrilegious. But I found my latest homework assignment to be quite the eye-opener.

This Monday in advanced reporting we learned the truth about using clichés in reporting. It's a no-no.

I just dictionary-dot-commed cliché for the sake of it and the very first definition pretty much sums up why...
1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse.

So, in summary, clichés define ideas of little value and little meaning.

And you want to know what's crazy. My professor (who was a bishop for many, many years...he's not the Antichrist I promise) pointed out thatwhen sharing the one thing that means the most to us...the thing that defines us...the thing that gives us all hope in this life and a sense of meaning and purpose—when sharing our testimonies, we rely very heavily on clichés.

A clichéd testimony isn't without value. We ooo and aww over the adorable Primary children who get up to share their simple testimonies and cookie-cutter prayers because A. it's incredibly sweet and B. it still brings the Spirit. And we feel right at home when we hear similar wordings of our shared ideas and beliefs because, well, they're all the same. They're supposed to be. And that consistency is what makes the doctrine of our Gospel so beautiful.

But as I listened to my teacher, I realized something. When we rely so heavily on clichés, as listeners, we tune out. I know I have in a testimony meeting or two. The most memorable testimonies I've heard (like Elder Holland's of the Book of Mormon last October or that of an investigator at our stake youth conference years back) are memorable because they were unique. They were powerful to me because they shared truths I've heard for a million years in a way I'd never heard them before. And I can appreciate the difference.

Our professor had us write a list of the first 25 clichés we could think of in class and construct a testimony out of them. Then he sent us home to rewrite it. "Make it cliché-free. Tell me what you really believe. What you really know. It might be the most powerful testimony you've ever written."

I kind of laughed. I thought it'd be too easy. But when I sat down to write I didn't know where to start. I didn't know how to be really honest and candid. I wanted to hide behind clichés that sounded right and made sense.

But then I started to write...almost approached it like one of these posts...and just let my fingers flit across the keys without a second thought to how it might sound to someone else. And when I read it back to Parker to see if it passed the cliché-free test, I felt the Spirit...so strong...here in our living room. I even paused a few times so I wouldn't cry. Who cries over homework...really???

So I've decided it works. And I've also decided, the next Sunday I have the chance, that I might (emphasis on might) just try it. I may not sound eloquent, or articulate, or look like the picture of propriety, but I will be honest. And even if it has zero impact on the listening congregation, I know sharing it will strengthen me and my simple testimony.

Here's a peek at part of my assignment. Again...I love the Gospel! I really do. And I'm the queen of clichés...so I can appreciate those too. Just wanted to share my spiritual experience of the day. Enjoy!

Chelsey White DeMille

September 27, 2010

Communications 486

The Gospel Truth: Why it pays to be cliché-free... (i was so excited to include a cliché in my title to make it ironic. I'm such a nerd!)

25 Gospel Clichés

Beyond a shadow of a doubt…

With every fiber of my being…

My family means the world to me.

Words cannot express…

I’d be ungrateful if I didn’t stand and share my testimony today.

In these the latter-days…

A chosen generation…

Obedience brings blessings…

A burning in my bosom…

You all have such a special spirit about you.

Hearing your testimonies truly strengthens my own.

Every member a missionary…

I’ve been spiritually fed today.

Patience is a virtue.

I don’t know where I’d be today without…

I told myself I wouldn’t cry.

Trials only make us stronger…

I’d like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true.

Each and every day…

It truly is a plan of happiness.

Nourish and strengthen our bodies…

Living on borrowed light…

Our forever family…

By the whisperings of the Spirit…

Faith is like a seed.



I don’t remember the last time I stood up here, but I do know that I’d be very ungrateful if I didn’t stand and share my testimony with you today.

I’m so grateful for your words today! Hearing your testimonies truly strengthens my own. You all have such a special spirit about you!

So I’d like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t know where I’d be without it. Oh gosh…I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.

I love my family. They mean the world to me! And it’s such a comfort knowing that ours is a forever family.

I know that the Lord’s plan truly is a plan of happiness. I’m reminded of that each and every day I spend with our youth. They truly are a chosen generation.

These are perilous times, but I know trials only make us stronger. If we build on a firm foundation and then plant that seed of faith, we’ll never waver. Just remember that patience is a virtue on the road to testimony.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for my Savior. He is the light of the world…a beacon in the night. I count my blessings each and every day for the knowledge that He knows and loves me.

We’re getting short on time, so I’d just like to tell you again how grateful I am for this gospel in these the latter-days. I say these things...


I want to tell you what I know to be true…the Gospel and reality of the blessings that come from living it.

I know I have a Heavenly Father who loves me. He sent me here to learn and I have…not everything, I know…but quite a few things.

I’ve learned what it means to have a family and what a comfort it is to know there are people who will love me unconditionally, like my Heavenly Father does. They’ve given me a taste of the love of God and the love of my Savior Jesus Christ.

It’s so wonderful to know that because of this Gospel—because of the covenants made by me, my husband, my parents, my grandparents and so many other people I love—I’ll be able to live with all of them forever. That is a blessing that’s come from living the Gospel.

I know trials can be blessings and blessings can be trials. When we have it easy and life is so perfect, it’s easy to forget what you learn from sacrifice, struggle, and relying on the Lord completely. I’ve grown and learned more from being poor and married and so overwhelmed with life these last few months than I have in my whole life…truly. And as much as I want to just surrender to the hardships some days by plowing through a row of cones on my I-15 commute or announcing my two weeks’ notice to the umpteenth irrational bank-comer of the day, I don’t…because whether I’ve recognized the lesson or not, there’s one there to learn. And I know I’ll be blessed for figuring it out.

I love my Savior. It’s that simple really. And I feel like when I try my best and try so hard to do what’s right, I’m thanking Him somehow. I only hope He knows it.

I love this Gospel. I know it’s true. And I know living it makes me happy. That’s what I know. And I say these (hopefully cliché-free things) in the name of Jesus Christ…amen.

p.s. My professor's favorite phrase, "We'd like the thank the Aaronic Priesthood for the reverent manner in which they passed the sacrament." In his words, "I can't tell you how many times I purposely omitted this phrase as a bishop and people would come up to me afterwards and say...'You forgot to thank the Aaronic Priesthood!' You'd think it was the capstone to the sacrament prayers. Do you really think the Aaronic Priesthood really feels thanked when they hear this same phrase every. single. week.? That's like the girl who comes up to you every day saying she likes your blouse. After awhile you stop listening because the comment's lost its sincerity." I never thought of it that way...made me giggle :)


  1. Beautiful Chelsey...what a great assignment. Makes you stop and REALLY listen, OR think before you speak. Your professor sounds great!
    Loved your "testimony". Once again, I think you should write that book! I'm just sayin' (one more cliche'?). Love you. Thanks for sharing. Have a great Wednesday.

  2. Great post Chelsey, I loved it!

  3. Chelsey,
    Thank you so much for your sweet shout out on my blog...it was so good to hear from you!!! And I've spent the past evening perusing through your current events.
    A. You are stunningly beautiful...seriously. You look so happy and fresh and MARRIED! And speaking of avoiding cliche (on a shallow level)...I LOVE your wedding dress. Completely original and lovely. You and your hubby are bona-fide hotties.
    B. Loved this post. So so true! I think that is why I love it most when a new convert gets up and speaks or says a prayer. It's raw and genuine and really wakes you up. Just last week in R.S. a newer member of the church was talking about her time serving in Primary and how great and inspiring the children were, but also candidly/innocently included that serving in Primary can be a "a black hole" at times too. I about died laughing, especially seeing some of the other women uncomfortably shift from side to side...it was different from the usual "those precious children teach me more than I could ever hope to teach them" sort of commentary.
    C. I don't always leave comments. But when I do, you get a novel. Sorry.

    Take care Chelsey,