Is your testimony based on emotion?

by Rusty Lindquist on June 16, 2008 · 0 comments

Often, because we learn that the Holy Ghost speaks to our heart, we confuse the divine communication of the spirit with the far more fickle fancies of emotion.

But not every “warm fuzzy” we feel has the depth of divinity or is the substance of the spirit.

Emotion is like paint.  Sure, it adds color to whatever it touches.  You can splash paint on a rock, for instance, and it will colorize the rock well.  Or you can splash some paint in a bucket of water and the paint droplets will swoosh around a bit and form a flimsy film of color on the surface.  But disrupt the water at all, and the color rapidly dissipates.  Paint doesn’t add or provide substance, it just makes things pretty.

In the same way emotion makes experiences enjoyable, but by itself, is an unreliable means of measurement in determining truth and right.   While indeed, some emotion is deeply rooted, and can naturally emanate from poignant and pure principles, emotion can also be surprisingly superficial. 

But we must learn to differentiate and distinguish the substance of the communication of the spirit.

I’m no expert, to be sure, but from my searching to understand the feelings of the spirit, I’ve found the following that perhaps might be of help.

Those warm tingly feelings, warm fuzzies, goosebumps, or that rush up your spine?  Beware.  Those are commonly nothing more than a rush of emotion, and can be equally found while watching a touching movie, hearing a good song, or gazing out at a magnificent vista.  It’s the simple result of a release of endorphins from the brain. 

But feelings from the Holy Ghost are likely to be far more substantial (or are at least accompanied by additional feelings of greater substance then these by themselves).

It seems that communication from the Holy Ghost is more commonly associated with knowledge, understanding, and comprehension.  Like when you turn the light on in a darkened room, and suddenly you “see” and “understand”.   Or like when you find something you’d been searching for after a very long time.  When you’re found, after having been lost.  Like figuring out the answer to an important problem you’ve been pondering for a very long time. 

This kind of “rush of understanding”, or increased comprehension, or as Joseph Smith describes “when it feels like pure knowledge is flowing into you”, these are far more certain to be the “feelings” created by the Holy Ghost, and often seem to be followed by a burning desire to engage, to learn more, and to share.

They key is to always listen, and also take note.  For we won’t always get it right, but as long as we took note of how we felt, by writing it down preferably, then you can look back with the blessing of hindsight and begin to understand in very specific ways, how the Holy Ghost speaks to you.  In time, and with practice, you can grow into revelation and instantly recognize what is divine, and what is not.

It is my estimation, that the ability to receive and recognize revelation is one of the most important skills man can learn in this life, and the endeavor should not be taken lightly.


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1 Thomas Parkin June 16, 2008 at 11:33 PM



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