96985_000_011Had I ever felt the Spirit? The answer finally settled on my soul like the symbolic dove of peace.
Here I am, I thought, three months away from my mission, and I don’t even know how to feel the Spirit.
The truth was that I had been a member of the Church for my entire life, and I could never recall a time when I was certain that I had felt the Spirit. I had a firm testimony of the Savior and the prophet, but somehow I didn’t know what the Spirit felt like.
So there I sat in Brother Durrant’s missionary preparation class, as confused as ever. “It’s the Spirit that counts,” he quoted President Ezra Taft Benson. Brother Durrant then began to speak of great missionaries like Alma and Ammon, who were successful in their work because they followed the Spirit.
How can I be a great missionary? I thought. I don’t even understand the Spirit. I continued to listen intently, desperately hoping that Brother Durrant could answer my question. I silently prayed that he could relate to me just one important piece of wisdom—how the Spirit felt.
Then my answer came, and not just from the teacher. It didn’t come like an electric shock, and it didn’t come like fire. But my answer did come, with its own gentle feeling only the Lord was capable of giving me. It came when my teacher stopped speaking about Alma and said softly, “I feel the Spirit so much. It makes me so happy. That’s when I know I feel the Spirit—when I’m happy and I know God loves me.”
As I thought about those simple words, I felt all of the confusion settle into a sense of understanding. My chest didn’t roar with fire and vigor, and my limbs didn’t sink without strength. Instead, I felt a calm peace, and I realized that whenever I had felt warm inside while singing a hymn in church, I had felt the Spirit. Whenever I felt good after a service project, I had felt the Spirit. And when I had walked out of a Church class feeling peaceful and happy, I had felt the Spirit. The feelings that I was searching for were often there, but I just didn’t know what they were. I had expected the Lord to present to me, in grand spectacle, an instant testimony of his power. Instead, he was gently guiding me to find out for myself.
I have learned that I must make an effort to understand the Spirit and invite that influence into my life. I do not doubt the stories of Alma the Younger or King Lamoni. I believe the Spirit had a dramatic influence on them. But I’ve learned that the Spirit manifests itself in many different ways. The feelings of the Spirit are always there if I am trying to live worthily and if I truly seek them.