The last few weeks have been busy, leaving me little time for social media. I did notice that the latest Facebook challenge making the rounds was to make a list of 10 concerts you have seen. I didn’t do it on Facebook, but it did get me thinking and reminiscing. Eventually, I sat down and typed out a list of every concert I can remember attending. It was fun and nostalgic. But wait, it gets better.
Friday morning I was thinking about my list and I had the idea that maybe since I found some enjoyment in making a list of such an insignificant thing, that perhaps, I could think of a list topic that might actually matter. Since then I have been digging in my mind and heart as I work on a new list:
My Top Ten Spiritual Experiences.
I have been blessed so many times in my life with spiritual experiences. Some of them made tremendous impact on my life, some were minor gifts or even course corrections. The problem is that many of them have gone un-recorded because I either wasn’t journaling at the time, didn’t think about writing them down, or considered them too sacred to share.
Since Friday, I have been thinking about it, at my heart is full. Each item on my list deserves to be recorded, but very few of them were. The “whys,” “the hows,” the circumstances, the impact – each experience deserves documentation. Some experiences have found their way into my blog, some are in journals, some have never been written down – some have never been spoken.
Here are a few reasons why making a similar list might be of worth to us:
It can bless our posterity.
How I wish I could have a list of my parent’s top ten spiritual experiences! When you think about it, much of the Book of Mormon is simply a collection of spiritual experiences.
Back in 2007, President Eyring talked about documenting gratitude. I think the inspiration he felt fits nicely here. “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.” (link)
I would like my children and grandchildren to be familiar with what are, inevitably, the most important experiences of my life. Personally, I have done a poor job of that up until now.
It can strengthen our faith.
Sometimes when things get difficult and our faith starts to waiver, we turn to books, scriptures and the experiences of others to help buoy us up. What about being strengthened by our own words – our own experiences? A lot of us are terrible at keeping a journal. Maybe a list with the spiritual “high points” might be more attainable and more accessible than a lifetime of journals.
When Oliver Cowdery was struggling, the Lord had him look to his own memory of a previous spiritual experience to serve as a witness for himself:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:22-23)
It can keep our memories honest.
Often, when experiencing a crisis of faith, there is a tendency to re-write our own histories. We can forget, and/or deny the reality of what we have experienced spiritually. Our memories can be fickle. I wrote about this idea a while back in my post “A Quarter and Two Big Lies.”
This is a dangerous time, spiritually. As was prophesied, it is a time when “all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them.” (D&C 88:91)
Our own memories can serve as a bulwark to defend against forces that can tear down our faith.
It can bring the Spirit.
The Holy Ghost seems to love it when we focus our thoughts on things of God. He wants to help us remember.
“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:26)
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
My challenge for you: Make a list of your Top Ten Spiritual Experiences.
***WARNING: This is not a cute, quick little list that you would post here or on Facebook. This is sacred stuff. Remember that whole pearls/swine thing? Exactly.***
Seriously. Take some time. Can you think of a better Sabbath day activity? Make it as detailed or as simple as you want. Don’t feel pressure to rank them #1-10 unless you feel like it.
I can promise you, from personal experience, that you will be filled with gratitude. The Spirit will fill your heart. You will feel strengthened – and that is just while you making the list.
Here are some thoughts about getting started:
You might not remember all the best stuff right off the bat. I’m sure there are memories deep in my brain that I vowed I would never forget that might take some cajoling. Thankfully, the Spirit can draw those memories out for us. President Eyring: “I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.”
There are some things that happen in our lives that tend to naturally draw the Spirit close. Some examples to help memories flow…
- Baptisms, confirmations
- Your personal conversion process***
- Temple endowment
- Temple attendance
- Family History work
- Being set apart for callings
- Health blessings
- Comfort blessings
- Patriarchal blessings
- In prayer
- While fasting
- Seeking forgiveness. (See Enos)
- Seeking guidance
- Reading scriptures
- When witnessing miracles
- Hearing the testimony of others
- Bearing testimony
- In crisis
- When serving others
And there are so many more. Everyone is different, and there are no rules as to when or where a spiritual experience can happen. (One of the most significant spiritual experiences in my life happened while I was 40,000 ft. over the Atlantic in the middle of the night, while returning home from Africa.)
There is a chance that some could struggle finding ten spiritual experiences that deserve to be on the list. That’s okay. Write what you can and then dig deeper. If you still come up short, well, then you have a great new goal to strive for.
My list is not complete – I’m not sure that it will ever be complete. I imagine it will go through many different iterations as long as I am still living.
I don’t intend to share my list with you, nor would I want you to show me yours, but I would be curious to know if you went through the process, and how it impacted you.
Give it a try. I double-dog dare you.
*** It is almost that time of year again: International Hug a Convert Day. It is time to submit your conversion story, or cajole your friends into submitting theirs. They will be published the first week of June. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org