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?

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.

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?