I was asked to speak on the Holy Ghost and I would like to start off my talk by sharing a story of a personal experience I had over general conference weekend. My husband’s mom and step dad still live in Saint George Utah so it has been hard on them to have us go especially with a new baby. Scott’s mom had called him on the Sunday or Monday night before conference weekend letting us know that they would be coming out to see us. Being general conference weekend I was eager to stay home and listen to all the speakers. The suggestion came up to record conference and watch it later so that we could go out and do things while Scott’s family was visiting but I could feel the tug at my heart that told me not to. I could not give a very good explanation other than I felt the Lord telling me that I needed to stay home and be present while conference was actively going on. Contention arose as I expressed how I was feeling and Scott’s parents decided to no longer come out. I immediately felt filled with pain and guilt, but I could not deny the tug of the Spirit in my heart. When Saturday came around my husband got called into work from 9 to 1, the exact time the first part of conference was in session. My older sister, Amanda, lives in San Diego but just happened to be visiting her boyfriend who lives here in Orange County as well this weekend. He also works for the same company as Scott does and was also called into work from 9 to 1. Wanting to spend some time together my older sister asked if she could come over and spend some time with me and Sariah. Remembering the tug I had felt in my heart I told her that there was a church conference going on and that we would be watching that but I would love to have her come over still and she can hold Sariah while we watch. Being excited to see us both she said she wanted to see us both regardless of what we were doing. Running a few minutes behind I rushed to turn on conference and President Monson was already speaking on the screen. My older sister, Amanda, turned Sariah towards the screen and commented on how she needed to pay attention because he looked important. I wondered how she could’ve sensed that if she hadn’t even seen the box stating who he is. As the next speaker came on she began to hear certain words and wanted to know the meaning of them. I could feel the Spirit filling the room and guiding me on how to answer her questions. All of a sudden I realized why the situation with Scott’s parents had turned out the way that it did. Most of my sister’s responses to my answers were statements such as “that’s cool” and “that makes sense”. Her interest in what was being said seemed to only grow more and more as conference went on and as I continued to answer her questions. I didn’t get to hear most of what was said the whole first session but I do remember at one point the overwhelming feeling of the Spirit taking over my words and replacing them with His. All at once I could feel strongly burning within me all the love that he had for her. I thought I knew what it was like to feel overwhelmed with love but this was a complete and perfect love. Despite some of the choices she had been making in life that were very hard for me to watch her make as her sister, I felt love as the Savior feels for us. There was no judgment, anger or sadness but it was burning excitement. I could feel just how aware the Lord had been of Amanda all along and how excited He had been to share with her the knowledge of His truth, light and love.
Through this experience I can testify so strongly that even when we feel alone the most, we are never alone and that if there are choices we are making in our lives that are not in line with His teachings or our choices are not getting us where we want to be in life the Lord is aware. He is not waiting to condemn us but He is anxious to take us in and encircle us in His perfect love and help us. He is anxious to help us get back on the path back to Him and He is anxious to show us who we can become through Him. I can testify that through His Atonement and sacrifice that no matter where we are in life He knows exactly how we feel. Remember that it was Him who suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and bled through every pore for all us. So that when we fell in life, felt like no one understood what it could be like to be us, and felt like giving up He could be there to tell you that He does know what it’s like to be you. He does know what it’s like to be unsure if you could carry on for a second longer but just as He did, He wants to show us how we can make it through it.
The Lord can communicate to us in several ways but the two most common I have seen are through the Holy Ghost and through other people. Brothers and sisters sometimes we are not always aware of when we are feeling the Spirit or we do not even know how to recognize yet when we feel the Spirit. Maybe we do not even know He exists. My sister, Amanda, does not even know what the words ‘Holy Ghost’ or ‘Holy Spirit’ mean but that didn’t matter. He still found a way to begin to share with Amanda the love He has for her and expand her knowledge of Him and He needed to act through someone else. Someone He knew would listen to His promptings. Sometimes the Lord will prompt us to do something that creates anger and tension in our homes and we may not understand why when we are in the moment. Being a natural man we may want to choose the most passive option and what makes us the most comfortable and sometimes following the promptings of the Holy Ghost are not that option but when we feel this way let me remind you of this; had I chose to go with what was the most comfortable thing when I felt the tug in my heart; had I chose to set the prompting aside to satisfy my desire to dissolve the tension not only would the prompting have gotten weaker as a result of the Holy Ghost having a harder and harder time trying to convince me but my sister Amanda would not have come over for conference because Scott’s parents would have been there instead. I know that if I would’ve passed up this opportunity with Amanda I would have been more heartbroken than my words could ever explain. Even though it can be hard the Lord sees the bigger picture. He is on the outside of the glass looking in and He sees what is coming on the road up ahead that we do not have enough vision to see yet. On the other hand, not all promptings are huge or possibly life altering. Sometimes the promptings can be a small feeling like feeling you should say hi to someone at school. I used to work at a Chick Fil A drive thru and sometimes I would receive promptings as small as feeling like I should repeat back a customer’s order or ask them if they would like any sauces with their meal. When I worked in the drive thru sometimes we would be really behind on orders and we would have a second person pass the food out while I took the money and made change. There would be times where I would get these little promptings during those moments that we were very behind and when I would tell the person helping me that I felt like I needed to check the order or ask for sauce and they would say to me that we didn’t have enough time and I needed to forget about it. It is important that no matter how big or small we feel these promptings are that we do not ignore them. I have recognized in my own life that as we strive to learn how to recognize the Spirit and act on His promptings we become more in tune with the Lord in that we receive promptings more often. I do not believe that there is a prompting that is too small to be acted upon and we must remember that we are more likely to feel smaller promptings day to day than we are big ones. Regardless of what we feel most commonly we need to remember to strive to be quick to act upon them.
In the April 2014 conference Elder Tom Perry gave a talk about heeding the promptings of the Spirit called Obedience through Our Faithfulness where he told the story of how one day after caring for the lawn out in front of his grandfather’s home he sat down to talk with his grandfather and asked him a very important question: “How will I know if I am always doing the right thing, given that life presents so many choices?” Think of someone very important in your life… a friend, a child, a sibling. If they approached you and asked you this question how would you respond? Elder Tom Perry’s grandfather, coming from a farming background, answered using the analogy of a team of horses. I quote “He explained that a team of horses must always know who is in charge. One of the keys to asserting control and directing a horse is a harness and bit. If a member of the team ever believes that it does not need to obey the will of the driver, the team will never pull and work together to maximize their ability.” In this example his grandfather gave he relates the bit and harness used to steer the horse in which direction it should go to the promptings of the Holy Ghost in our lives. In a team of horses how will they know if they are going the right direction if they do not have a master that knows the correct path? How will the master of the horses be able to stop them or tell them which way to turn if he does not have a bit and harness that he uses to instruct the horses? Similarly, how do we know if we are going the correct way if we have no master to guide us and how can our master, being the Lord, communicate with us when we need to stop or go the other way if we do not have the spiritual harness, being the Holy Ghost? Elder Tom Perry goes on to explain that when we are obedient to the Lord and His promptings we become something much bigger than just ourselves and we unlock all the insight and wisdom He has to offer us. I would like to bring this talk to a close by leaving you with one last quote from Elder Tom Perry where he explains obedience to the Lord through the promptings of the Holy Ghost as “the means by which we declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the powers of heaven.” I can testify personally that it is through obedience that we not only allow ourselves to become closer to the Lord and Heaven but we can help others learn how to do the same and I leave you this message in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.