So this week I want to focus on something I struggle with all the time: how the Holy Spirit interacts with us. To be honest, I’m hoping that writing this post will help me understand the relationship between us and the Holy Spirit better, but I hope to hear from some of you as well.
The Holy Spirit does interact with each of us personally through personal revelation. He testifies of God the Father and of Jesus Christ and communicates this testimony to our hearts in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12, King James Version).
The Holy Spirit also:
- Is a member of the Godhead with God the Father and Jesus Christ
- Testifies of truth
- Is given to those who have been baptized as a companion and guide
- Protects us
- Helps us gain spiritual gifts such as testimony, patience, and charity
- Is sensitive to things that are offensive to God
- Does not have a tangible body like ours (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)
There is a lot more that could be said about the Holy Spirit, but this list should give a good background of who he is and what role he plays in our lives.
I could write a whole post just about these things, and maybe I will one day. But today I want to focus onto the role of personal revelation.
This is yet another gap in my religious knowledge. I have no idea how many other religions believe in personal revelation or believe that it comes through the Holy Spirit.
But in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the Spirit helps to communicate God’s will to each of us individually.
I should point out that what we receive individually from God through the Holy Spirit is intended for us individually. Not for the world or the church as a whole. We also believe that the only one with the authority from God to direct the church as a whole is the current prophet and president of the church.
But we can receive personal revelation for our own lives through the Holy Spirit. To make the role of personal revelation more clear, I’m going to use the word “guidance” in place of it through the rest of the article.
Now, I believe these things about the Holy Spirit and his guidance completely. However, my experience receiving this guidance is more sketchy.
There may be several reasons for this.
I May Not Always Be Doing the Things That I Should Do
As I mentioned above, the Holy Spirit is sensitive. If I do something that God would be offended by, I might not be able to interact with the Holy Spirit as well as I could if I didn’t offend God.
Even though God loves me whether I (and we) follow Him or not, following the commandments and doing things that invite the Holy Spirit into my life definitely help me to get the guidance I need.
I Might Not Be Willing to Listen to the Spirit
This is different from the first reason because I could be doing all the good things that I need to do, but if I don’t want to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling me, I might distort the answer.
The Timing Might Be Wrong
This is something I have no control over. The question I’m asking might be something I need to spend time with, looking for answers. Maybe I’m asking it before I’m ready for the answer.
Either way, if the time isn’t right for me to have that answer or guidance, I may have to wait for awhile before I receive it. As a kind of impatient person, I definitely struggle with this particular reason, but when the answer does come, it is always worth the wait.
For the most part, these reasons have been my blocks to receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit. Maybe you’ve seen things like this too.
But there are times when I feel like I have received an answer. Times when I think I know exactly what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me.
Then something happens that flips what I thought was right for me on its head, and I have no idea if I was even right in the first place.
We hear that there is a time and a season for everything. So maybe those answers I’ve had like this were right – but only for a season. Then things changed and it wasn’t right anymore.
I want to be clear that I’m not talking about doctrinal things being right and wrong. Those testimonies from the Holy Spirit hold true no matter what.
No, I’m talking about smaller things. Things like serving a mission or choosing a major or dealing with problems at work. Important decisions that I need to make and that I ask for help with.
I don’t really know why it works like this sometimes. I don’t know if it even happens like this for everyone.
But it has happened to me.
It is possible that I just didn’t want to listen to the Spirit, so I convinced myself that the answer I wanted from the Spirit was the one I was getting.
Even if it wasn’t.
But I’m not sure about that. Because there are times when I did sincerely want to listen, and this still happened.
I think this is one of those things that I might never fully understand. It might knock me off my feet a few times in my life. Who knows?
These experiences don’t mean that the Holy Spirit was wrong. Or that he isn’t real. Or that he didn’t try to communicate with me.
It might mean that I’m misinterpreting things. Or not listening.
I don’t know if this is helpful, but I want to talk for a minute about how the Holy Spirit interacts with me. Maybe some of you can relate.
Even though I’ve had my struggles understanding the Holy Spirit and his guidance, there are a couple of ways I know he interacts with me.
- I get a “gut feeling.” Some might pass this off as intuition, but I believe there is more to it than that. There are times when things feel incredibly wrong, or absolutely right, and there is no logical reason behind it. This, to me, is the Holy Spirit.
I think I only have smaller examples of this one. A more trivial one I’m thinking of is online dating. I, personally, am not a fan of online dating because I don’t always trust that people are genuine on these apps and websites.
But I have recently started trying it out. Still not a fan, but in spite of this, there are feelings I have about certain people, like I shouldn’t try to match with this or another guy.
I don’t know why I shouldn’t, but I trust those feelings. I’ve had these feeling when traveling, when making major decisions, and in many other contexts. A lot of the time, I think they are feelings that protect me. I don’t know what would happen if I ignored the feelings, but I’ve never regretted listening to the Holy Spirit in this way.
- I have different thoughts come into my mind. I don’t want this to be misunderstood. It isn’t like I’m hearing voices in my head. Not at all. But the thoughts are ones that I wouldn’t normally have.
This is a difficult one to explain, especially if you aren’t familiar with the Holy Spirit giving you guidance. When I mention this in Sunday School, people usually have an idea what I mean.
But if this is new to you, it might sound totally crazy. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that.
The thing is, these thoughts do give me ideas, inspiration, and guidance that I wouldn’t come up with on my own. Sometimes the thoughts are strong, sometimes they’re subtle. But the more I pay attention to them, the more I think I recognize them for what they are.
There are other ways to feel the Holy Spirit. Everyone is different after all. And since the Holy Spirit is sharing God’s will with us, he knows how to best communicate with us individually.
So, this week, I’d love to hear if anyone feels the Holy Spirit differently. Or if you have any experiences with the Holy Spirit that other people could learn from.
Let’s see if we can all figure out how to recognize guidance from the Holy Spirit a bit better this week.