Sunday, March 15, 2009

How Do You Feel It?

I have a reader with whom I have been communicating via comments on a post from the past. She recently ordered a Book of Mormon and has begun reading it. I hope she grows to love this book as much as I do and that it can give her all the blessings it has given to me. 

Let me quote her last comment: "I have started to read the Book of Mormon. I am really enjoying the sense of comfort and realization that it is beginning to give me. I pray every time before I start to read it, and also when I decide to put the bookmark in and pick up again later. I pray that I will be told and lead to the truth. Nothing has happened yet, but I'm praying and hoping that something will happen soon."

I want to respond to her here in a post because it is easier to type than a comment and I thought others may be interested in hearing or adding to my response by sharing their own testimony of how they felt that led them to believe the Book of Mormon.

So this is to my Anon friend and anyone else reading the Book of Mormon and wanting to know if it is true or be led to truth.

I am so happy you have started reading this wonderful book. For me to hear you are reading it is like when you have a very favorite book or treat or person and someone to whom you have recommended that thing goes to try it out. You are so excited for them to love it like you do. You know?

I am glad you are praying before and after reading it. That will certainly help you in your quest for truth. I wanted to give you some references on what you should be expecting to "happen" as you read and pray. One of my references will come from the Bible. One will come from the Book of Mormon itself. And one will come from my own experience.

First from the Book of Mormon: I will quote from the book of Alma (it is in the middle of the Book) chapter 32 verses 26 to the end of the Chapter. Here a prophet in the Ancient Americas is teaching a group of humble people. This chapter stuck out to me particularly for you because you initially wrote about wanting to find a desire to learn and build on that desire.

This chapter explains through a parable what should happen in your heart when you encounter Truth. 

26 Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
  27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more thanadesire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
  28 Now, we will compare the word unto a aseed. Now, if ye give place, that a bseed may be planted in your cheart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your dunbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to eenlighten my funderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
  29 Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
  30 But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
  31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own alikeness.
  32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
  33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
  34 And now, behold, is your aknowledge bperfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your cfaith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your dmind doth begin to expand.
  35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is alight; and whatsoever is light, is bgood, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?
  36 Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
  37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
  38 But if ye aneglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
  39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your aground is bbarren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
  40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the atree of life.
  41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with apatience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree bspringing up unto everlasting life.
  42 And because of your adiligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the bfruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
  43 Then, my brethren, ye shall areap the brewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth cfruit unto you.

So as you read the Book of Mormon you are planting and nourishing that seed of faith. You should feel it grow and swell feelings of the Spirit in your heart. To better understand what those "feelings" of the Spirit are let us turn to the Bible: In Galatians 5:22 we read "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith." 

It is these feelings that you should have when you encounter Truth. Peace is something that is a tale tale sign of the Spirit. I think when you feel the peace of the Spirit it can be subtle but it is a signature sign of the Spirit and Truth. 

Lastly, I will share my own experience. I have shared this before but it is always worth repeating. For me, I had read the Book of Mormon and loved the stories. But I was waiting for something to "happen" too. I was waiting for some great big revelation. I wasn't sure what but something. I prayed for a year waiting for this.

Then one day I was in a testimony meeting (a meeting where people stand and share their feelings about the Book of Mormon, God, Jesus Christ, Prophets, or a number of other gospel subjects) and people were up sharing their feelings. As I sat there wishing I had something "happen" that would let me KNOW the Truth, I suddenly realized that my heart was burning. I say realized because it wasn't that it started to burn. It was that I became aware that it had been burning for some time and I was just now realizing it. 

By burning I mean it felt warm. Like it was growing and radiating heat and love. I realized that the Lord had been telling me all along. I had felt the peace and known the Truth all along. Something had been "happening" in my heart the whole time but it wasn't until that moment that I realized it.

This realization brought me such incredible joy. I really cannot describe it. I stood and bore my own witness that was being given me right then. I grabbed something to write with and write on and wrote down my feelings telling myself NEVER to deny this truth I now KNEW. I was a aware that God knew I got the message and I would not ever deny it. 

Many different people feel the Spirit and recognize it in slightly different ways. But peace is pretty universal I think. It is an inner peace. I like to liken it to how you feel when you tell someone something that is true. There is no hesitation or feeling of unrest in your soul. Now think of when you tell someone something that is a lie. There is a reason lie detectors work. You body feels it is lying. 

The same feeling of peace or unrest comes to me as I learn things. This is especially true for me when I speak a truth or write it.

I would invite others to share how they felt when they came to a knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true. And to my "Anon" friend I say keep up the good work. I have faith that you will find the Truth you seek. I will keep praying for you in your efforts. 

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a lifetime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I never read the Book of Mormon from start to finish until I was eighteen and in college, away from home for the first time. At that point I thought I really had to KNOW for myself if it was true.
I found that I couldn't put the book down. I would go to a class, then hurry back to my dorm so I could read; I was totally absorbed in it. I didn't take a break to eat, unless I grabbed something on the way to a class. I finished it in a matter of three or four days. Then I prayed about it, as advised in the book of Moroni.
After I prayed, I didn't feel any different than I had before.
I suppose I was expecting something grand. Only in hindsight have I realized that I have known the truthfulness of the church and the Book of Mormon all along. I have always felt good and peaceful about them both; I have always wanted to attend church. I have also thought, since my college experience, that the simple fact that I was almost unable to do anything else other than read the B. of M. was a sort of witness to its truth as well.

Here is what I have learned:
We often hear of people who receive a testimony in a way that is remarkable and unmistakable--like a bolt of lightning. And so we think or expect that we will receive it in that same way. And certainly it would be easier to KNOW the truth if it came to us like that. But in my case, it has been a still, long-burning glow. It is a deep-running undercurrent in my life and in my heart, instead of a raging river. Or, to use another metaphor, it is more like being in love with your husband of ten years, than the high of first falling in love with him.

I know it is the truth.

Allison said...

What I love about the LDS Church most is that YOU can find out for yourself.

We don't coerce, or force, or use fancy language. We just tell people to read, pray, and ponder. And if it is true, they will feel the Spirit, and they will know it.

Plain Jame said...

I remember after going through alot, finally coming to a point where I realized that I was seeing myself as trying to fit the mold my mom and older sisters were in their spirituality. I felt it impossible for me to be that way. I decided to either find out for myself what I believed and live it, or let it go and just be me.
I decided to read the BofM for a few weeks and pray and really give it my all. The following months were amazing. In retrospect, I recall feeling "on fire". It changed me forever, and I discovered truths and the power of the Spirit in my life that I can never refute.
Happy to say that I've never let that fire go out, and I love the opportunities I get to feel the spirit whenever possible. The best part? I found me, and where I fit in this world because of this Book.
I became closer to God, in "no other way" than this.

Anonymous said...

I think she is feeling the spirit without realizing it. The spirit doesn't answer with a loud voice, but it is a still small voice, that comes in different forms. One being comfort. She said she feels comfortable when she reads it. That is the spirit speaking to her spirit. Comfort and a realization knowing something she learned long ago, before she came to this earth. I know the Book of Mormom is true, and it has come from a life long process of trying to read it everyday. Every person receives answers to their prayers differently, but I strongly feel that she is already feeling the spirit, by feeling that comfort, and it is in a sense testifying to her that the Book of Mormon is true.

Cardalls said...

I remember going to the MTC and hearing everyone talk about the incredibly strong spirit that was there, other missionaries seemed overwhelmed by it. I wasn't and I thought something was wrong with me. I spoke to one of my teachers about it and he asked me one question which was, "What kind of home did you grow up in? Did your parents follow the prophets and read scriptures and hold FHE and such?" I told him they did. He then said, "You aren't overwhelmed with the spirit because you have felt it your whole life in your home." That made me realize the truths I had been taught my whole life were true and they were taught by a still small voice day by day. I think Anon. is feeling the spirit in a quiet way, she said she is enjoying comfort and realization every time she reads it. Sometimes it doesn't overwhelm, it whispers.

Brimaca said...

I grew up in an LDS family who did not always attend church. My mom was disabled and my dad didn't go without her. I walked by myself a lot. Then in high school I didn't stick to the standards of the church as well as I should have. Then I went to college.

In college I had five roommates. Two were partiers who spent most of their time trying to prove they were not "good Mormons." They were unhappy despite how they pretended to be.

My roommate Heidi was amazing. Her sister drown in the swimming pool when she was 14 months (while we were roommates). I was devastated for her. She was sad, of course. But she had a light about her. She still smiled. She was still sweet. She still served others She was AMAZING. I asked her one day how she could be so happy despite such a challenge. She said it was because she knew the Gospel was true and she would be with her sister again. She said God gave her comfort.

I watched her and followed her example for a long time. She was the most Christlike person I knew. The other girls were so stressed and uphappy and everything was so dramatic. Heidi just supported everyone and loved them. I wanted what she had.

I prayed about the Book of Mormon. Suddenly I knew. I felt good. I felt my Father's love. I knew. And I have never doubted since because every time I open the Book of Mormon I get that feeling. I get that same feeling when I read truth in the Bible. Messages from God to make me happy. The kind of happy that lasts FOREVER.

denisejorgy said...

I too was raised in an active LDS home. When I was in 9th grade, taking seminary, we were challenged to read the BofM and mind out if it were true or not. I decided to take the challenge on and wanted to find out for myself it it were really true or not. I read and prayed and nothing happened. That summer I went to girls camp and that is where I gained my testimony of the truthfulness of the BofM. I remember where I was, where I was sitting and how I felt. I couldn't deny the awesome feeling of knowing what I had been reading was true and that Jesus Christ loved me. I am forever grateful for that experience I experienced in the woods at girls camp. What a blessing to know.

cory and sharon said...

Dear Anon.
Can I just tell you how excited I am to know that you are reading the Book of Mormon. Stephanie is an amazing person and I have loved reading her blog. She has such an awesome perspective on the gospel and great way of sharing it with others. I appreciate her example so much.
I know that if you have a sincere desire to know the truth, you will find it. The seeds have been planted and little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept, you will know.
I have been thinking about you all day and as I was reading this verse in the bible I thought of you and decided I would share it.
John 7:17 'If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or wheather I speak of myself.'
You are going about it the right way and the Lord will answer your sincere desire to know.
Isn't it wonderful that we can turn to God for truth. He loves us so much and wants us to seek and ask him. He has answered my prayers many times and he will yours, too.

Heather H said...

I want to add my testimony to those that have been added here and let those people who might be investigating our church know that becoming a member is the best decision I ever made. I was baptised just over 8 years ago after moving into my very first apartment by myself about 4 hours from my family, the missionaries just happened to be my next door neighbors and after a few months they started teaching me about their church. I liked what they were teaching me but I couldnt bring myself to pray if it was true. Finally after a few months the missionaries were listening to a song that said "these things are true, or they are not" that made me decide that I had to know once and for all if what I was learning was true. After I said my prayer that night I kinda expected angels or something to confirm my request but nothing remarkable happened. The next morning I awoke to a feeling deep within that I had always known what I was learning was true and that being baptised was the right decision for me.

Jonelle Hughes said...

I have had many quiet and bold experiences throughout my life to testify of the truth of the gospel. The more I feel it, is in accordance with how much peace I am living with at the time.:) Sometimes it is a loud shout because that is what I need to hear to understand. Most times it has been a quiet nudging or feeling. I am speaking about feeling the spirit in general, not just in response to the BOM. Also, the more I mneditate and sit quietly with the things I am pondering, the more I experience.

I could go on and on, but I really loved this quote about it...

F. Enzio Busche:
Conversions come only by the powerful influence of the Spirit. The reality of this power is obvious. Its radiation through the humble, righteous missionaries became the instrument of my own conversion, and it is the cause of the growth of the Church in all corners of the world. This power we receive as a special gift from our Heavenly Father as we enter into the covenant of baptism.

I feel very enthusiastic about every member who has developed an awareness to concentrate, as a priority, on efforts not only to feel the Spirit on a regular basis, but to be completely immersed in the Spirit during the daily actions of life.

The Lord has given each member this gift that will enable him to carry happily and successfully the burdens and challenges of life. I want to share with you some suggestions about how I feel you can learn to develop and to use this very special gift from our Heavenly Father.

Every person will, when he lives according to the principles of righteousness, feel the Spirit under certain conditions. We learn something very important about this in the scriptures: "And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit" (D&C 84:46). The spirit that is mentioned here is the Light of Christ, which makes all possible attempts to help every child of Heavenly Father and to lead them to that life-saving, sacred covenant of baptism.

("Powerfully Strong," New Era, Mar 1989, 4)

Bonnie said...

When my husband was reading the Book of Mormon for the first time, he found he was so enthralled with every word. He had been starving for what he found there. When he came to the end of the book, he decided to take the challenge to pray and find out if it was true. As he prayed, he half expected angels or some other wondrous experience to happen. When it didn't, he was confused. He was so sure that is how he would know.

After praying a few times and waiting for that to happen, he felt what he now knows was the "still small voice" telling him that he already knew it was true. He knew each time he picked up the book and held onto every word, he knew by the strong desire he had to be a better person because of the truths he read from those pages.

This was true. He knew that he already knew before even asking. And that was his profound answer. He has never questioned again and his testimony has only grown more steadily as he has lived those principles he reads each day in his life.

I would like to echo what has been said in the comments before, I am so grateful for the knowledge that we can know for ourselves and we don't have to rely on man to find the truth.

The Esplin Boys and Kassie said...

Stephanie,
I don't know if you remember me, but I was just baptized in Oct (officially). I wrote you an email about how connected I feel to Camille and I really feel like she's one of my missionaries. Anyway, I spoke at my own baptism, spoke in front of my ENTIRE ward and I was just asked to speak at STAKE CONFERENCE!! I'm a tiny bit freaking out. I share this with you because I finished writing my talk last Thursday...I've entitled it The Evolution Of MY Testimony :)... and I just read your blog. I had been feeling a little unsure, since my Gospel inadequacies are huge, to say the least. And, there is going to be an Apostle present and .... Anyway, I had been feeling pretty good but I had a blessing today and the scriptures you talked about today fit perfectly with my talk. Things happen like this ALL the time...it's so weird I feel weird telling you them all the time. This one I felt you should know about.
Pray for me on Sunday. I'll post my talk on Sunday, if you're interested in reading it...
Thank You, once again.

Janice said...

I was first given a Book of Mormon by a friend in high school. I remember the night I knelt and prayed and asked God of its truthfulness. I immediately felt a warm feeling throughout my whole being. I opened my eyes, looked around the room, then looked at my hands that were tingling. At the tender age of 14, I was amazed at the undeniable answer I had just received.
I experienced the "something" that most people hope to experience. At that time in my life, I needed a powerful answer. My parents had recently divorced and my life was in turmoil. Several months later, I met the missioaries and was baptized. I spent many years attending church alone as an adolescent and young adult. I often felt so lonely and out of place. Whenever doubt would enter my mind, I would recall the power of the answer to my simple prayer. It was what I personally needed to hang on. Staying true to the covenants I made at baptism 25 years ago has not always been smooth sailing. Now I am married and a mother of five beautiful children. I cannot put into words the joy and peace I still experience, even in the midst of trial, of KNOWING the truthfulness of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The answer to my prayer, strong as it was, was still only a seed planted. My continued faith and obedience to the teachings is what has given me a KNOWLEDGE of its truthfulness. May God bless you in your journey to find the truth.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Your post was an answer to my prayers. I'm not the original Anon, but I have/had the same questions.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am the ''originial anon'' and I am continuing to read the Book of Mormon. It gives me much strength, yet I am am still awaiting that big thing to come.

Thanks for everything, and for the continued prayers- I need it! I will keep you posted on my future findings/experience with the BofM

Anonymous said...

What do you suggest that I would do. I am praying that Jesus will step into my life in this... "unfamiliar" way, and I'm still questioning what is happening and when?
Please help :]


-Original Anon.

Stephanie said...

Anon,

This is difficult to answer over the internet. The internet is wonderful for so many things. It helps us find information we need so quickly.

But some things are better done in person. If I could sit down in person with you, we could discuss more fully the questions and concerns you have in your life. I could tell from your tone and body language how I could best help or advise you.

I could sit with you and read from the scriptures and tell you of God's great plan of happiness that is taught in there. And I could point out when this "unfamiliar" feeling enters into our discussion so that you might be able to recognize its presence. I think perhaps you would find it not to be so "unfamiliar" after all. I think rather you would find it to be the a familiar feeling.

But this is not something possible for us to do at this point. I am too pregnant to fly to where you are and sit with you. I am confined to pray for you by my bedside.

But there are others who are sacrificing their time, money and energy to go out into the world and sit with people who are searching, just as you are, for truth. They are our missionaries. They are young men or women who come to your home and teach you of this Plan of Happiness that our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ have put forward for us. They do not come in and tell you how things are and that you must believe them. Rather, they come in and teach a principle and ask you how you feel about it. They invite you to pray about it. They help answer your questions and concerns about spiritual matters or your life. They help you recognize when the Spirit of the Lord is in the room so you will be able to recognize it for yourself when you feel it.

My dear friend, I want so much to help you. I cannot tell you how much I wish this. But I think you would be so much better served by inviting the missionaries to your home. I feel they would best be able to guide you in your search at this point.

There are a couple of ways you can find them. You can go online and request them to come to your home at www.mormon.org. It should be similar to how you ordered the Book of Mormon. Or you can email me privately with your name and address and I can make sure they get in touch with you.

Of course you can email me privately with more information or questions anytime as well. You have my email from my profile page.

Please consider having the missionaries come visit you and please email me. Let me know how you ARE feeling and where you are in reading the Book of Mormon and perhaps you can tell me more about "what is happening and when" that you are questioning.

Much love and many prayers my friend --
Stephanie

Michele said...

Hello,

I have just finished reading all the blog entries that have involved helping 'anon' with her quest to find answers to her questions about prayer and reading the Book of Mormon.

I am Gracie's mom. My baby is the one who people were praying for a few weeks ago when Stephanie so kindly posted a prayer request for her.

Gracie passed away on March 2nd after 11 months and 10 days on this earth.

I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all my life as well. I have to agree with a lot of what has already been said. Our Father in Heaven definately hears our prayers.....every single one. I too believe that he can extend someone's life based on all the prayers of the faithful.

I believe he did that for my daughter.

Gracie's heart stopped beating 8 hours after her first open heart surgery at 5 days of age. She was given CPR for 40 minutes and was put on a life support machine. After 11 days on the machine, the doctors told us she would not live because NO ONE had ever come off this machine after that long. Well, I am here to testify that the Lord and our Father in Heaven HEAR our prayers because she came off the machine and LIVED! The Lord let us have her for a little while longer and I know that this was a direct result of the hundreds of people praying for her. This was only one of many miracles we saw happen on her short life.

I know that we sometimes want answers to our questions right away. The Lord answers them when the time is right for us to learn the most from them. He also helps us know of his love for us through the service of other people.

I am SO excited to hear that you are reading the Book of Mormon and I have to completely agree with Stephanie that I hope you will have the missionaries come into your home and teach you about our church.

Sorry this is so long but I felt that I needed to leave my thoughts with you.

Best of luck to you in your search for truth.

Michele