How does the Savior comfort us when we can’t feel the Spirit?

Often when within the depth of depression or anxiety we struggle to feel or can’t feel the Spirit, but the Savior has said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:8).

So the question is how does Jesus comfort us when we can’t feel the spirit?

The Savior will not abandon us during these times!

Sister Reyna Aburto said,

“One of our beloved hymns expresses the plea ‘Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!” I was once on a plane as it approached a large storm. Looking out the window, I could see a dense blanket of clouds below us.  The rays of the setting sun reflected off the clouds, causing them to shine with intense brightness.  Soon, the plane descended through the heavy clouds, and we were suddenly enveloped in a thick darkness that completely blinded us to the intense light we had witnessed just moments earlier.

“Black clouds may also form in our lives, which can blind us to God’s light and even cause us to question if that light exists for us anymore.  Some of those clouds are or depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental and emotional affliction.  They can distort the way we perceive ourselves, others, and even God.” (October 2019 General Conference)

When going into that cloud, the sun didn’t disappear.  They just couldn’t see it!  The sun was still shining.  This is how it is for us during those times of darkness.  We can’t see the Sun (that is, feel the Spirit), but we are still surrounded by the Spirit.  The light of Christ is still shining through, the cloud is just blocking us from seeing or feeling the Spirit.

Internal versus External

I have come to learn that I can feel the Spirit internally, or witness it externally.

When I am mentally healthy I typically feel the Spirit in my heart or my mind.  I feel peace, I feel love.  Often we describe it as feeling, or even words within our minds.  This is a very classic definition of feeling the Spirit.  But it is not the only way to recognize God’s hand in our lives.

Often when depressed, or anxious I have gone weeks or even months without feeling anything.  I have felt no peace, no love, nothing.   Just emptiness.  This is when we often ask if God still loves us, or if he has abandoned us.  It took me awhile, but I have learned he has not.

When I take the time to look (or someone, like my husband, points it out to me) I can recognize the Lord’s hand in my life.  Doctrine & Covenants 6:28 states “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”  These outside witnesses show me where the Lord is when I can’t feel the Spirit.

Here are some ways I have seen the Lord in my life when I couldn’t feel the Spirit:

  • Acting on idea that is good (often at the encouragement of my children) and receiving the confirmation of a need after the fact. For example, I made banana bread and was intending on taking it to a friend who was pregnant.  Driving can cause me severe anxiety, and she lived in the next town over.  My daughter (around 5) encourage me to go when I didn’t want to.  I dropped the bread off at her door and later she told me she had been craving banana bread!  I knew then, that my actions were something inspired.
  • Looking at other’s actions and kindness toward me. Last year, while in despair, a friend would always text me whenever I needed it.  This particular friend I have never met, except online.  She has experienced something similar to my challenges.  Every time I knew it was one way God was reaching out to comfort me.  I knew I wasn’t alone, as much as I felt like it.
  • Remembering spiritual experiences when we can’t feel it. At times I have kept a list of experiences where I knew God was speaking to me that I could review every morning.  What a difference it has made in my life to remember what the Lord has given to me.  President Henry B. Eyring would ask daily, “ ‘Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?’ As I kept at it, something began to happen.  As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day.  As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”  (October 2007 General Conference).

I have many experiences where I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life when I couldn’t feel the Spirit.  So often just looking back and remembering what the Lord has helped me get through the day. I like to have reminders around.  Once, the Lord sent me a message of love with an orchid and now I keep an orchid in my kitchen so that I can remember daily that the Lord loves me despite anything going on in my life.

How have you seen or felt the Lord’s hand in your life when you can’t feel the spirt in the traditional classical way we talk about feeling the Spirit?

I Am Merciful, I Will Obtain Mercy

As President Nelson has invited us to study the Restoration, I have been thinking about the First Vision, which reminded me of an experience.

I am merciful. I will obtain mercy.

 

In college, while at Brigham Young University, I studied Arabic.  It was an intense challenge.  Between class and homework, I spent about 3 hours a day studying.  I could have easily done more, but my professor said we should stop after 2 hours of homework, even if it wasn’t finished.

The final exam, of what I thing was the first semester came around, and I still remember the stress and the anticipation!  Part of the exam consisted of reading passages and questions to answer, all in Arabic. I will never forget the collective relief in the classroom as I came to a reading passage and read,

“I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont. … My father, Joseph Smith, Sen., left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York,…”

I could read the passage, the questions, and answer confidently all in Arabic.  I was familiar with the story, and if there was a word I didn’t recognize I could use the context of the story.  That Arabic exam, with a text that we were so familiar with was an act of mercy that helped bring peace and confidence in the room.  When I think of mercy, I think of being given something more than I deserve.  So as I continue to study the Restoration, and specifically the First Vision, it will remind me of the mercy I have been given.  I hope to give that same mercy to others, as the Savior Jesus Christ does.

How do I draw the Savior’s power into my life?

“The heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing  from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood.  I pray that the truth will register upon each of your hearts because I believe it will change your life.  Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help your family and others you love.

“Now you might be saying to yourself, ‘This sounds wonderful, but how do I do it?  How do I draw the Savior’s power into my life?’

“You won’t find this process spelled out in any manual.  The Holy Ghost will be your personal tutor as you seek to understand what the Lord would have you know and do.  This process is neither quick nor easy, but is spiritually invigorating.  What could possibly be more exciting to labor with the Spirit to understand God’s power –priesthood power?”

-President Russel M. Nelson

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we each have the ability to have direct access to the power of God through the covenants we make in the temple. President Nelson has invited us to learn, understand and use this marvelous power!

We can each learn to do this.  While studying President Nelson’s talk, Spiritual Treasures, I asked myself four questions to help guide me as I strive to learn more fully how to use this gift.

  1. What topics, goals, traits, truths, etc., do I need to help my family with?
  2. What must I set aside to use the power of God?
  3. What must I do with more exactness to exercise the power of God?
  4. What does the Lord want me to accomplish using His power?

I hope these questions can help you.

What did you learn from studying President Nelson’s talk?

I Am Meek, I Will Inherit the Earth

“The hearts of the meek and humble are full of joy and comfort continually.” Brigham Young (Teachings of the President,1997 p.180)

I am meek I will inherit the earth, poppy field

There is a disconnect in how the world defines meekness and how the Savior defined meekness.

A modern definition found on vocabulary.com states, “The adjective meek describes a person who is willing to go along with whatever other people want to do, like a meek classmate who won’t speak up, even when he or she is treated unfairly.” Another common definition on google stated, “quiet, gentle, easily imposed on; submissive.”

Noah Webster, in his 1828 dictionary, defined meek as

1. Mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; yielding; given to forbearance under injuries.

Now the man Moses was very meek above all men. Numbers 12:3.

2. Appropriately, humble, in an evangelical sense; submissive to the divine will; not proud, self-sufficient or refractory; not peevish and apt to complain of divine dispensations. Christ says, ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.’ Matthew 11:29.

We need to understand meekness as the Savior lived it. Elder David A. Bednar said, “Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint.” An excellent example is when the Savior was speaking to Pilate. He had the power to simply remove himself from the location or call down a legion of an angels to protect him, but he stayed. The Savior answered Pilate’s questions boldly and courageously, “to this end was I born.” He submitted to the will of His Father, but he was not passive or weak.

 

How will you develop the attribute of meekness?

I, personally, need to work on being not easily provoked, especially during the evening hours when my child are sleepy.

“Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash. A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious, or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others.”  Elder David A. Bednar

I Am Mourning with Those That Mourn

As servants of Jesus Christ we are “willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” (Mosiah 3:29). As we serve and love our friends and neighbors we are given the opportunity to mourn over and over again in different circumstances:  death of a child, spouse, sibling, or parent, loss of a job, loss of a home, a wayward child, illness, depression, loss of friendship, loss of a dream, and more.

I am mourning with those that mourn. I will be comforted.

In recent months and years I have mourned with my friends and neighbors over all these things, and more.  And I have had friends mourn with me.  Within my own struggles, I have felt great strength and unity come from the love and concern that has been shown me.

With that support, comfort, unity and love I felt at home within the community I live in, something I have rarely experienced in my nomadic life.

How have you felt comfort when mourning?

My Baptism

My daughter recently turned 8, and chose to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was such a wonderful day.  And of course, it reminded me of when I was baptized.

 

Father and Daughter

I, also, was baptized at 8, along with my mother and older sister by missionaries that taught us.  First, my mother was baptized, then my sister, and then me.  I think we were all confirmed in the same orders.  I was baptized by Elder Stevenson, and confirmed by Elder Goslin.  They were both from England.  I remember how excited I was.  The only other thing I remember is one of the missionaries throwing an apple in the air and it following to the ground.

I’m grateful the Spirit has always helped me remember my baptism.  And more important, looking back 30 years later, I’m grateful for the things I learned while being taught by the missionaries that have made a difference in my life, such as the Word of Wisdom (the Lord’s law of health) and how to pray.  Being able to pray meant I could receive answers from Heavenly Father when I needed them most.

President Thomas S. Monson said, “I have been thinking recently about choices.  It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives.  The choices we make determine our destiny.”   “Choices,” Ensign, May 2016, 86.

My choice to be baptized was the beginning choice that has influenced my destiny more than any other.  I hope my daughter’s remembers this choice and that it will bring her the same joy that my baptism has brought me.

Choosing the Kingdom of Heaven

“Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 3 Nephi 12:3

Choosing to be Humble

Maintaining humility can be a challenge.

How do we choose to be humble?

How often are we compelled to be humble?

Our level of humility — how much we acknowledge our dependence on God — can vary day to day.  Our righteous daily habits help us to choose to be humble.

What do you do to choose to be humble?

  • Scripture study
  • Prayer
  • Partaking of the Sacrament
  • Temple attendance
  • Family History work
  • Serving in children
  • Remember the Savior
  • Nature and Exercise

In effect, obedience to any commandment is choosing to be humble.

And humility leads to eternal life — living with our Heavenly Parents and our Savior in the Kingdom of Heaven.

I Am Poor in Spirit

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

Because of the word poor, I have struggled to understand what poor in spirit means.

My natural inclination is to think of poverty. Or, more personally, that I am a broken person – through sin or life experiences.  But, this does not match the other Christlike characteristics with the Beatitudes, or describe someone who will receive the kingdom of Heaven.

So what does it mean to be poor in spirit?

It means to be humble.

“Humility is to recognize gratefully your dependence on the Lord – to understand that you have constant need for his support.”  (True to the Faith, p. 86)

What comes of being humble?

Humility can lead to healing!

After Solomon dedicated the temple, the Lord accepted it and made the promise to heal the land.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

All healing, especially healing of the soul, requires humility.

We need humility to recognize and accept our mistakes, our sins, our shortcomings, and are weaknesses.

It takes humility to change.

When we act upon that knowledge and desire to change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,  He will heal us.

How has humility helped you change and heal?

Our Very Best

I have days which seem wildly successful and that days that I think I should not have gotten out of bed.  

Each day brings us different situations.  These may include an illness, a busy day, fighting children, happy children, vacation, money issues, car trouble, etc.  The list can go on and on.  Some days we act better then other.  Some days we are more frustrated then others.  Some days we are disappointed with what we accomplished or how we acted.  And on other days we happy and joyful about our experience.

Recently, after a difficult week, I listened to the talk, “The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.” President M. Russell Ballard repeated a conversation he had with one of his children who asked,

“Dad, I wonder if I will ever be able to make it.”  

Don’t we all wonder that at times? 

President Ballard responded,

“All Heavenly Father asks of us is to do the very best we can each day.”

I learned that my best is going to be different on different days!

Some days are easier for everyone in my family to be happy and treat each other well.  Then there are the days when everything is a struggle, and my best is to feed them and let them entertain themselves.  

Often I compare my easy days to my harder days, when in truth my best is different on each of those days.

How do you evaluate if you did your best today?

The Beatitudes Affirmations

As dawn begins, each day can begin with hope.  Hope that we will be a little better, a little more Christlike.  As we strive to emulate Christ we must make daily concerted effort.  Affirmations can help us as we transform.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 

As we begin to define ourselves we will become a new person in Christ.  In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior defines many characteristics that we need to make our own.

The Beatitude Affirmations

I AM poor in spirit.

I will receive the kingdom of Heaven.

I AM mourning with those that mourn.

I will be comforted.

I AM meek.

I will inherit the earth.

I AM hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

I will be filled with the Holy Ghost.

I AM merciful.

I will obtain mercy.

I AM the pure in heart.

I will see God.

I AM a peacemaker.

I will be called a child of God.

I AM willing to be persecuted for Jesus’s name.

I will have great joy.

I will be exceedingly glad, for great

shall be my reward in Heaven.

I AM the salt of the earth.

I AM the light upon the hill.