So, Am I Feeling the Spirit or Not?

ImageI recently had a (digital) conversation with a friend that got me thinking a little about, in my opinion, a typical dilemma for Latter-Day Saints. This dilemma can be summarized with a few questions:

  • Am I feeling the Spirit?
  • Do I feel the Spirit often enough?
  • How often should I feel the Spirit?
  • Why do other people seem to receive more spiritual direction than I do?

Rather than answer each of these questions separately, I think I’d like to share a few principles that may be helpful. I hope they’re helpful anyway. These are personal thoughts of course, so we’ll see…

1. I’ve changed the way I talk about the Holy Ghost. I’ve been using the phrase “been influenced by the Spirit” more often than saying “felt the Spirit”. I know it is a small change and probably semantics more than anything, but there are times when I have not “felt” something as much as “known”, “realized”, or “thought” something as a result of the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life. I think that “feeling” the Holy Ghost is totally normal, but being influenced by the Spirit is more all-encompassing. I’ve just noticed that students in my classes have been more able to remember times they’ve been influenced by the Holy Ghost in any way rather than only times they’ve felt spiritual feelings.

2. To be honest, the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives should be a consistent, regular, influence. As we partake of the sacrament willingly, we have the promise that the we can “always have his Spirit to be with us” (D&C 20:77). The word “always” could mean a number of things, but it doesn’t mean that we only feel the Spirit a couple times a year if we’re striving to follow Christ. Here’s another point of interest. Lehi and Nephi, the great Book of Mormon missionaries seemed to have interaction with deity every day, in one way or another:

“But it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi, and many of their brethren who knew concerning the true points of doctrine, having many revelations daily, therefore they did preach unto the people…” (Helaman 11:23)

What did the “revelations” consist of? I don’t know. But they had communion with the Spirit daily. So, yes, we can (and should) be influenced by the Spirit of God consistently in our lives. Very consistently.

3. On the other hand, is God supposed to guide us all day? He taught Joseph Smith that people should be “anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will…” (D&C 58:27) In other words, along with following the guidance of the Lord, we should be growing in our capacity to make good choices and do good things, without always being told what to do and when to do it…

4. The Holy Ghost does more than just direct us, though that is an important blessing. According to D&C 11:12-14, the Spirit will:

  • Lead us to do good
  • Help us be just
  • Help us be humble
  • Help us judge appropriately
  • Enlighten our minds
  • Fill our souls with joy

This list is anything but exhaustive. But when we zero in on the idea that the Spirit will tell us what to do next, no, we won’t feel like we’ve had many experiences with the Holy Ghost because we’ve missed out on all of the other blessings of the Spirit.

Ok, well, there is more to consider, and I’ll let you do that yourself. Also, my thoughts are not the final word, in any sense, on the workings and mission of the Holy Ghost.

I’ll finish with this: Years ago I was driving around our town and I had one of my children with me. As we drove past a fellow that I knew, I yelled a greeting out of the window. My child instantly yelled the same greeting out his window (to no one in particular). It was cute, and I took a minute to just look at this child. In that moment I felt an overwhelming love, a heavenly love, for this child, for each of my children, and for the chance I had at being a father. That feeling of love wasn’t a directive or command, just an influence.

There is no doubt that I was being influenced by the Holy Ghost as my love for my family and my role increased exponentially. 

There is no doubt that the Holy Ghost can and does assist us as part of his divine mission as a member of the Godhead.

There is no doubt that this blessing is real.

Be Encouraging…

BJM

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