“.... whoa whoa whoa feelings….”
I read a facebook comment today testifying of the Book of Mormon, stating, “I feel the spirit touch my soul when I read it. It tells me that what I’m reading really happened.”
But they don’t verify truth.
As a former Mormon, I have spent a lot of time contemplating feelings. ‘The Spirit’ is much mocked amongst my peers on the fringes of Mormonism. We don’t like to admit that we are guided by feelings, or ‘The Spirit’, but rather by fact, and reason, and logic. Those things matter too, maybe as much or more so than feelings.
But, feelings matter.
For years, I had a gut feeling that the church was not true. I ignored it, preferring to put my faith in the feelings of my beloved parents that the church was true. With a capital T. I couldn’t let myself go there. I couldn’t allow my brain to consider the implications inherent in acknowledging my own feelings. To do so meant giving room to the doubts that threatened to tear my world apart, and I had no idea what my new reality would look like. I couldn’t envision a life without the church.
Now? I feel peace, and wonder, and awe. Making space for my feelings opened me up to so many new possibilities. I regret that I didn’t listen to my feelings sooner. Decades of doubt buried deep makes for quite a mess.
I had a feeling that I should marry Boston Bob. Boston Bob did not share my feeling. Had I persisted and pursued Boston Bob based on my feeling, Boston Bob might have had a feeling that I should be arrested and charged with stalking. He wouldn’t have been wrong to pursue that feeling.
When my now beloved spouse asked me to marry him, I had a feeling that I should say yes. It was perhaps the strongest feeling I’ve ever had that I should do any one thing, and, in this particular case, my feeling led to 28 years of wedded bliss. For me. I cannot speak for my beloved. Though I suspect he shares my feelings, based on his actions.
Upon the birth of my third child, I had a feeling that I should have a fourth. I resisted this feeling, as I had no desire to repeat pregnancy at my advanced age. But the feeling was persistent, and, eventually, we had that fourth child. She is a delightful addition to our family, and I’m so grateful that I gave heed to that feeling.
However, I have many friends who have had similar feelings that another child awaited their family, and those feelings did not lead to another child. As they have shared their stories with me, I feel their grief that what they most hoped for and dreamed of did not come to pass, in spite of their feelings that it would.
Feelings matter. But they don’t verify truth.
I know many people, good and honest people, who testify that they know the church is true. Their feelings are so strong they resemble knowledge. I also know many people who have testified that the church was true, only to realize later that it wasn’t.
Feelings do not verify truth.
Feelings do not verify truth.
Feelings can point us in the right direction and help us find truth. And, sometimes, in the absence of truth, feelings can lead us to that which is good. Or so I’ve heard. I know many people who have doubts about the truthfulness of the church, but stay because they believe it is good. I don’t subscribe to this philosophy myself. I don’t believe good can exist in the absence of truth. My feelings tell me so.
Growing up, whenever I was presented with a choice in life, my father would ask, “What does your gut tell you?” Often, if I would stop and listen to my gut, my feelings, I would find the answer I was looking for. But not always. Remember Boston Bob? My gut told me he was ‘the one’. He told me he wasn’t. My feelings couldn’t change that fact. However, the experience did teach me to scrutinize my feelings a little closer. Had I done so then, perhaps I would have realized that BB and I were not a good fit, and my feeling was nothing more than desire masquerading as ‘the spirit’ testifying that I had found ‘the one’. I was attracted to BB, I liked spending time with BB, and I thought he would make a good celestial spouse. When I told God all of this, in fervent prayer, he confirmed my feeling with a testimony that BB was ‘the one’. Looking back, knowing what I know now, BB and I would have been a disaster. My beloved, ‘the one’, was, and is, the right fit for me. My feelings, combined with our shared history of wedded bliss, provide all the confirmation I need.
Feelings matter. I pay attention to my feelings, and I examine them closely for nuggets of truth. I trust my feelings, because they have often led me to good things. Like my beloved spouse, and my delightful child.
But, they do not verify truth.
Boston Bob did not want to marry me, and the church is not true.