Congratulations to Holly, who was the winner of the pre-screening tickets to see Ephraim’s Rescue. Yay, Holly!
And I have a question. Actually two. I’m working on a class for youth about recognizing the Spirit.
1. I’m compiling a list of the many ways that the Spirit speaks to us. For me it’s most often through a feeling of reassurance/certainty about something I’m learning and also promptings (which I like to refer to as an idea with teeth that kind of presses on your mind). Can you help me round out the list by adding some of the ways that you have received revelation in your life? I want to show that there are many, many ways that our Heavenly Father communicates with us, and it’s not the same for all people or even for the same person all the time.
2. How have you taught your children or youth to recognize the Spirit? I need a variety of ideas/thoughts/resources since there is such a variety in the ways God speaks to us through the Holy Ghost.
12 thoughts on “Winner and a question”
Since I am a mother, I really struggle with saying the right things to my children. Especially when we are dealing with really tough situations, in which I truly do not know what to say or how to teach and guide my children. When I have been prayerful and humble, I have been blessed to say things and teach in ways that I have truly never thought of. Words and ideas come out of my mouth that are not my own. The Spirit is speaking through me. These have been some of the most profound moments of my life. I am so grateful for these moments and for the Spirit that will guide me if I seek Him.
I had an interesting conversation with my primary class of 11/12 year old boys this year; we talked about that D&C scripture that says the spirit is felt as a burning in the bosom, and I had recently heard a woman describe her recognition of the Spirit speaking to her as her feet going cold.
When I first heard that, I thought, HUH? Your feet go cold?? But then it hit me — everyone experiences the Spirit differently, and that is a beautiful thing.
I asked these boys how they recognised the Spirit in their lives, and wouldn’t you know it — every single one of them had a different sort of feeling when they felt it.
It kind of blew my mind. I loved it.
Oh yay! Thanks for teaching that there are tons of ways. I spent most of my youth thinking that I didn’t have a testimony because everyone would be saying they felt the spirit and I was thinking that I felt absolutely normal. There is a great list in Preach my Gospel including feelings like joy. One thing we remind our teenage boy is that he has grown up around the spirit so he is more likely to notice when it isn’t there than when it is. (This occured during a discussion on how he doesn’t feel any different at the temple than he does at home. Really he shouldn’t.) Otherwise, I am still so bad at being sure whether something is the spirit or not, but best methods for me are:
If it’s telling me to do something good but that I don’t want to do-it’s probably the spirit. 🙂
hindsight (looking back like Elder Eyring’s Oh Remember talk)
I will really look forward to hearing what you learn about this. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. For my children, I have often talked about Galatians 5:22-23, and that when they feel peace, love and joy, they are feeling the Spirit. When I was a teenager, someone in my Sunday School class said that he could honestly say that he had never felt the Holy Ghost before. It made me so sad – I had grown up with him and I knew that he had felt the Spirit – at least testifying that things were true, but I guess I didn’t know how to verbalize it at the time. For me, when I feel the Spirit the strongest, I cry, but in general (especially when I am seeking guidance for decisions) peace is the feeling I feel – a feeling that is so different than when I worry about things or when I am around things ‘of the world.’
I think it is important for all of us to understand that the Spirit will communicate with each of us in the way or ways that are best for us, and that because we are children of God, and he knows us, he knows ways to reach us….if we are doing our part.
Just as the Savior used more than one way to heal (“go thy way”, or dirt and spit mixed into clay, or the faith of someone to just touch the hem of his garment) the Spirit can and will use more than one way to give us insight. But we need to be humble and teachable. Anyone who just stands around saying they’re waiting for insight from the spirit….well…you are either with the Lord or you are not.
Sometimes, I will receive a confirmation or answer to prayer in something that someone says or teaches. If I’ve been praying and studying, then the Spirit can fill in the gaps between what I want an answer for, and what someone says. and it is like being able to fit pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. A bigger picture begins to develop.
Sometimes I will have an “aha” moment…or what my daughter calls “spiritual whiplash”! I’ll have a thought or hear something that makes me stop and rethink, or recognize additional insight into something I’ve read, and I’ll find myself having a small moment of amazement…”So, THAT’S what that means, or what I should try, or whatever….”
A feeling of comfort and warmth is an indicator of a spiritual prompting. Clarity of thought. Insight or new comprehension. A general feeling that I’m doing the right things, making the best efforts, being aware of people and things around me and seeing and sensing goodness. These are some of the ways I feel promptings and confirmations.
Good luck with your lesson. I truly wish I’d had someone explain this to me when I was much, much younger.
And, thank you, thank you for your book, “Covenant Motherhood”. All of my daughters and daughters-in-law have birthdays coming up, and they are receiving copies. The ones who have it are enjoying it as much as I am.
Love this topic. I am the parent of 5 teens. : ) As a missionary, I learned how important it was to identify the feeling of the spirit early, so people knew they could trust that. They didn’t have to trust the missionaries or any human being, but could rely on that part of their divine nature to receive answers. I’ve always identified that feeling to my children. My youngest (who really is 11, not a teen, but a teen wanna-be), is adopted from India. One of the first things she said to us after being in our home was that even when she would go to temples in India, she could tell inside her that those statues/gods weren’t real, but she knew in her heart that somewhere she would find “a real God with real power.” As we talked, I identified the feeling of the spirit, and identified how it was that same feeling which had guided her through her adoption journey.
Because she was older when she was adopted, she came to our family with already formed habits and beliefs, and (sadly) not a ton of trust in adults. I wanted to respect that, and still honor the responsibility we had to teach her. As we would come across things (dressing modestly comes to mind) that were in conflict with what we as parents wanted, I figured out quickly if I could connect her to that feeling again, she would follow that, even when she couldn’t follow/trust me. Our bond is strong, not because I can give her everything she needs, but because I can point her in the direction of recognizing what she needs, and she trusts that. Never once has she gone against that feeling in her heart, even though she still occasionally struggles with adults being in charge. I love that once we learn to recognize the spirit, we can trust it, no matter what other influences point and pull us in all directions.
Spirit speaking to us: I agree that it is individual. Mostly, the ways identified in the scriptures are recognizable to us at different times. I think it’s important to recognize (and teach kids to recognize) the difference between excitement and feelings of the spirit. Interestingly enough, neuroscience has recently identified bundles of neurons around our heart/lung organs and intestines. (Feel free to email me if you want some sources.) It sounds odd, but how amazing that by divine design, we have a small part of our brain surrounding the organs where people typically identify feeling the spirit.
Also, when I listen, that feeling is present more often. When I’m busy, and not responding, that feeling comes less frequently.
Preach My Gospel has a great list of different ways that the Spirit can communicate with us, with scriptures showing examples of each of the types communications. Every time I study the list, I realize I have experienced many of the types of communication at different times and different situations. Studying the list yourself might give you some good ideas on your own experiences that you could share with the youth.
love this idea! I’m going to go read the list.
I have felt the spirit through – I clear thought in my mind as I pray – an answer to the question that I’m praying over. Usually one I haven’t already thought of, or an expansion of a thought I’ve had. but, it has more clarity to it. Like I know what to do and have confidence that it’s correct.
Also, I’ve actually heard a voice in my head giving me instruction. Some of those instructions have been … “trust in me”, “go visit sister ____.” , “give them a hug”, Once when a mother of another student was asking if my daughter could spend the night because it was her birthday… I answered yes As the spirit screamed “NO!” inside my mind. I have no idea why, she seemed like a nice enough person, and her daughter was in my daughters class. But, I will never know why because I quickly changed my answer to “No,on second thought that won’t work out for us after all.” Our family will never know why the answer was “No”. but, we will always know that we followed the promptings of the Spirit. My daughter wasn’t upset, when I told her what happen, she accepted it without question. she knew i would have let her otherwise and she trusted me.
At times the promptings of Holy ghost has just been a spirit of peace. I have either been praying for the sick or injured or just discussing their situation with family and had a calm peaceful feeling come over me. Then and there I know … everything will be as Heavenly Father needs it to be, whatever the outcome… it’s okay.
On rare occasion, in my time of greatest need, when I’ve been on my knees crying, pouring out my soul to God… I’ve felt a physical being next to me, putting their arm around me. A feeling of Love and comfort. A feeling that I am Known, loved, and care for by my Father in Heaven. He is aware of my needs. Take strength from him.
Several years ago, someone in a talk challenged the audience to go for one week and every time they had a thought to ask if it would hurt anyone and if the answer was no to do it. I took that challenge and I learned so much in that one week about how the spirit speaks to me. The number one thing I learned to recognize about the spirit speaking to me was my own mind “arguing” with a thought or idea. (Is that weird?) As time has gone, the instinct to argue has lessened, but that really was a strong indicator for me at least at first, and sometimes even still…. an idea pops into my mind and my first instinct is to say oh, that’s silly. why would I call her, she’s not usually even home this time of day. or whatever. yet every time I’ve done it, I’ve felt afterward it was a prompting.
The best experience I have had teaching children about the holy ghost was when I was a Sunbeam teacher. As suggested in the manual, I brought a soft blanket and had the children line up and one at a time I wrapped them tight in the blanket and talked about how the holy ghost can comfort us. Those sweet little children just kept getting back in line to do it over again.
I have a funny story about my 4-year-old. We were talking about Samuel the Lamanite and she wanted to know how God made it so the arrows didn’t hit him. I asked her what she thought. She said she thought the holy ghost whispered to him each time an arrow came and told him to move left and right (she was demonstrating it as she was saying it). I’m not sure that was true in Samuel’s case (can you imagine, with all those arrows coming at once and trying to preach at the same time!), but the more I’ve thought about her answer, I’ve thought how perceptive it was…. The spirit does whisper, help usually comes in small ways rather than big ways, and often (maybe even always?) the spirit moves/changes us rather than the people around us.
We had a great discussion on this in YW the other day, about how each individual feels the Spirit. Being the nurse that I am, I can’t help but identify the physiologic responses- I usually do tend to feel a warm sensation/rise in temperature near my heart, but I also am aware that my heart rate increases and -let’s face it- I usually cry. 🙂 The others adults in our class also talked about feelings/impressions that they are sure they would not have come up with on their own, but felt right nonetheless.
It helps to clarify with youth that when we hear “voices in our minds,” as I think many of us have at one time or another, it is not an unfamiliar, foreign voice. It is often words that appear in our mind that may even be heard as our own mental “voice.” Even as an adult I at times will pray over what I have heard to double check (for lack of a better phrase!) that it was a prompting and not just my own [occasionally crazy] mind.
I’ll never forget something Sheri Dew told the sister missionaries when I was in the MTC. She said that there are many ways to feel the Spirit and one way to know how it speaks to us is to pray and ask Heavenly Father. Such a simple idea, but I’ve been surprised how many of us haven’t thought to ask. For me, depending on the situation I will feel strong peace, or I will hear a voice in my head. When I feel the Spirit the strongest I’ve felt on fire. My whole body and soul literally felt like it was burning. But not painful. Glorious. That only happens in very sacred experiences though. Most of the time I feel peaceful or I feel powerful. When I bear testimony of truth and the Spirit speaks through me, I feel a power come through my voice that isn’t there at other times. At first I didn’t recognize the difference easily, but now I do. It has been a blessing to know this.
Thanks for the opportunity to think about this again. I enjoy your blog.