Thursday, June 25, 2009

Following the Spirit

The Spirit of God speaks to each of us in a different way. I have recently learned that the way I understand the Spirit best is through word and action. In other words, I simply feel that if I follow the Spirit, I am going to do or say something, and that it is right. The first time I remember feeling this way was when I was a teenager and woke up early on a summer morning and simply felt like cleaning the kitchen. So I did. Then my mother came downstairs, exhausted, saying she'd had hardly any sleep and was so glad I'd cleaned the kitchen.

Another time, a woman came in to Walgreens to buy cigarettes. I felt prompted to ask for her ID. She was flattered! It made her day that she looked young enough to be asked for her ID for tobacco.

More recently, I have learned that, usually when I have a calling in a certain area but also with friends, I will simply feel certain words come to me. I often don't know what I'm supposed to say until I say it. Sometimes I struggle with how best to word it.

A word of caution to anyone with my same gift, which is given by God so that we may bless others: just because you feel prompted to say something doesn't mean everyone will listen. They may be prompted to take a different course; your prompting may have been to give them insight, not direction. This happens most often to me when I am giving friends advice. I feel prompted to give them my point of view, which is helpful but not definitive to them.

Remember also that all who do good work by faith, by the power and gifts of God, through His Spirit. These gifts include faith, hope, and charity. They include power unrivaled by any other organization or standpoint. They are powerful and useful in their place. We should "covet to prophesy" (or to speak by inspiration) and "seek after spiritual gifts." The greatest gift we can receive in this life is charity, because it motivates us to be all that we can be, to progress from glory to glory until we are perfect. In the name of Jesus Christ, I bear that testimony, that these spiritual gifts are available unto all who diligently seek them, and they cannot be perfectly imitated by Satan, by tricks, or by psychological wisdom. God alone can grant them. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Proper Time and Place

Well, I'm planning to propose to my girlfriend tomorrow, less than three months after our first date. So, I wanted to ramble for a bit about decision-making and time. Making choices too quickly can lead to all sorts of problems. There may be unforeseen consequences. There are more likely to be mistakes. Making choices too slowly also leads to all sorts of problems. It hurts those who are waiting for you to decide. If you delay too long, the choice usually defaults to the worse of the two options.

So, like in all things, decision making requires a balanced amount of time. It requires that one do their best to consider all the implications. It requires that one enjoy life and not worry too much. Faith in God helps tremendously, knowing that He is anxious and willing to make up for our weaknesses, especially in the long run. He will make everything right in the end. However, he is also ready to bless us in the short run, if we ask for it and are believing. We must believe that God is completely capable of giving us the blessing now, and we must desire to put His will first. If we are truly humble and believing--not letting doubts drown out the possibility of divine intervention, but also preparing for all possibilities--then we will be at peace with ourselves and with God.

Another aspect of decision making is listening to advice. Obviously, asking for advice from friends and family will almost always produce a large variety of responses. In my case, for instance, you ask your friends when you should marry, and they think short-term happiness. Why wait? That just produces more stress, they say. You ask your family, and they remind you of the financial implications. Having seen marriages struggle and fall, they urge you to give it more time, to be sure it is what you want. Then you ask your Bishop, and he tells you to get married as soon as possible to more easily keep yourselves clean. You read the words of the prophets, and they say to be wise and have faith that God will provide what you need if you do your best, and even recommend, in general, not delaying marriage or children for financial reasons, since in struggling together you can choose to grow together. That too can be a great blessing.

My decision was to get married sooner rather than later. A great comfort is that in most situations, there is more than one good option. Either way will bring a lot of happiness. Which job? Pray about it. But the Lord may remain silent because both are good or because you already know enough to make the decision on your own. Good luck to my readers. Especially my unmarried ones. ;)