This article was sparked by a friend of mine who is learning more about the LDS Church. She has been reading, praying, and learning from the missionaries that visit her. We were talking on the phone and she told me of something that I personally experience everyday. It is a common pattern for me. I asked her how everything was going, so to premise what she said I need to make something clear. She attended and watched for the first time something called General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is where modern day prophets and apostles speak and give spiritual guidance, advice and instruction. She explained how she felt super good as she watched conference and how it felt right to her. It made sense for her to pursue a life within the LDS faith. Sounds like nothing is wrong right? Well her next statement was something that I feel a lot of people deal with. She said, “but that feeling hasn’t been back.”
This is not something that makes me think she isn’t being told follow or not. It is a natural happening that I constantly go through. I would argue that strong spiritual experiences and impressions are remote and don’t happen at a constant rate. For me, strong spiritual experiences happen moment by moment. The pattern I go through is I will feel the Spirit of God very strongly and deeply in my heart and after that I feel on top of the world. I will feel recharged and walk on a higher plane. However, that doesn’t last forever, I will soon find myself yearning for another strong spiritual experience to bring me closer to my Heavenly Father. During this moment I feel like a distant stranger to God and plead I can have that comfort again. When I least expect it God delivers another soul piercing comfort that I again am on top of the world.
That roller-coaster pattern has been consistent in my spiritual life ever since I was baptized in 2010. So what is it I learned to do to keep going when I don’t feel as close to God? I learned through scripture study, prayer, and going to church I was bound to receive that confirmation of God that He’s there. I also learned that the Spirit boldly touches our hearts not constantly but, for me, consistently. It is the consistency in my dedication to reading the scriptures and praying that I can get to the next spiritual uplifting.
When she told me this I thought of an analogy of cairn stones. If you are unfamiliar with what those are they are a formation of rocks that are piled up to make a tower-looking object. They have many purposes and have had use since ancient times. Here in North America today they are tactfully used for outdoor activity (i.e. Hikes, Bike Rides, Other Back Country Activities.) They are built wherever there is not many visible landmarks or lack of direction keeping tools. They help keep you on the trail otherwise you’d either walk in circles or go so far off track you won’t ever make it back. You are supposed to follow them from one to another to keep on the trail. The remote spiritual experiences to me serve as my own cairn stones to keep me in the right direction looking towards God. From cairn stone to cairn stone there is a bit of uncertainty that can occur until you reach the next one. In between these spiritual experiences there is doubt and fear until your spirit can receive the strength to keep going to the next one. The only thing to do in between the “cairn stones” is to keep your head up and proceed.
I believe that God will never let us down, let alone get lost. I firmly believe that if we stay strong from cairn stone to cairn stone we’ll find ourselves pleasantly surprised how much we’ve grown and become spiritually strong. Between each moment of clarity, I strive to read, pray , and chose to have faith that soon I will reach the next one. God Lives.
“Spiritual landmarks are indispensable for keeping us on the straight and narrow path. They give clear direction as to the way we should travel—but only if we recognize them and walk toward them.” -Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.