Getting Through the Spiritual Highs and Lows

In the two weeks since conference I have had some incredibly sweet and tender experiences brought about through following the admonitions of conference speakers (Elder Rasband in particular), along with the power of Christ and the combined effort and unity of the organizations within the church and my family. Answers to prayers that have been in my heart fervently for months on end came about, miracles took place, lives were brightened, missionaries were born of the young women I teach, and no words can express the joy and happiness and astonishment I felt at all that transpired. And then, just like that, it feels like the rug was pulled out from under me and I am left feeling disheartened and depressed.

There must be opposition in all things. Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become. A friend once told me that often times a great spiritual experience can be followed by a spiritual low of sorts and I have often found this to be the case. Satan doesn’t want us to remember or grow from the exhilarating experiences we have and he waits in the outskirts of our lives for the perfect moment to pounce and drag us back down to any degree possible. When Joseph Smith was first visited by the angel Moroni, he found himself completely exhausted. “I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.”

As Elder Dallin H. Oaks described, “After Joseph Smith had completed translating the Book of Mormon, he still had to find a publisher. This was not easy. The complexity of this lengthy manuscript and the cost of printing and binding thousands of copies were intimidating. Joseph first approached E. B. Grandin, a Palmyra printer, who refused. He then sought another printer in Palmyra, who also turned him down. He traveled to Rochester, 25 miles (40 km) away, and approached the most prominent publisher in western New York, who also turned him down. Another Rochester publisher was willing, but circumstances made this alternative unacceptable.

Weeks had passed, and Joseph must have been bewildered at the opposition to accomplishing his divine mandate. The Lord did not make it easy, but He did make it possible. Joseph’s fifth attempt, a second approach to the Palmyra publisher Grandin, was successful.”

So when these times come around to you, and undoubetdly they will from time to time, I offer these suggestions to pull you out quickly and efficiently.

  1. Gaining a testimony is not a one-and-done experience and neither are the spiritual experiences surrounding us. Yes, it is wonderful to have a grand experience where prayers are answered and everything seems perfect in the world for a time. These experiences are the result of hard work, faith, prayer, study, and following the spirit. But the thing we are working towards is often not a one-and-done situation either. Whatever it is you are seeking, it is very likely that this blessing will require continued work, faith, patience, and diligence once it is received. If you have a chance to share the gospel with a friend you have been praying for, or if you finally gave birth to the child you have been hoping for, or you met the man of your dreams, it never ends there. We have to keep working, keep praying, and keep trying as we move from one grand experience on to the next. This is what enduring to the end is all about.
  2. Let go of expectations. Oftentimes we work hard towards a goal that in our minds is something that is worth the time and effort and is an attempt to unify and uplift friends, family, neighbors etc. but those efforts are not received as we had hoped. This does not mean we throw in the towel and say, “well, all that work did not accomplish what I had in mind, why bother?” If we follow a prompting we will not always get the results we were expecting. We may not even see the end result of the effect our efforts had on others, but this does not mean we stop the effort. This is our opportunity to trust in the Lord with all our hearts; and lean not unto our own understanding. Our efforts will make a difference either now or later. Whether the outcome is what we expect is not what matters. What matters is that we act. 
  3. If you are feeling sad or let down by the results of your efforts, or the reception of those efforts by others, take it to the Lord. Sure, it can seem like a good idea to vent to a friend about your feelings, but this can often have the opposite result from what we wanted, dragging them down with us and creating a misconception in their mind about beliefs or actions or situations. Disappointment, depression, sadness, fatigue, discouragement, resentment, anger, frustration, all of these can and will be taken by the Savior if we but ask. He has already taken these things upon himself, don’t carry them — or worse don’t go spreading them around. I recently read the Peacegiver by James Farrel and loved the message it contained regarding forgiving while recognizing the sin that is in ourselves. Christ suffered for our sins and for the effect of the sins of others. If you are hurting because of the action — or inaction of others, take it to him. Ask him to remove it from you and he will. Today I found myself feeling so disheartened and could only think of a good cry and a shower as my best way of dealing. As the warm water was washing my tears away I began to pray. By the time I was done I was already beginning to feel the peace that I was hoping for. My vision which had previously been clouded by all these negative feelings started to clear and I was able to find the focus, hope and joy that I was longing for.
  4. You needed his help before, you will need it now, and you will need it tomorrow. The sooner we can remember this and access his love and at-one-ment on a daily, hourly, sometimes minute-to-minute basis, the sooner we will feel his peace and pure joy in our lives. We can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us and we need him every hour. 
  5. During these difficult times, it is so important for us to endure it well, with a cheerful countenance and not to murmur since being angry or disgruntled can often lead us down a path that is painful and difficult to return from.
  6. Finally count your blessings. Works like a charm every time. Here’s a picture of one of mine❤️

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I know that in this life, we are to be tested to see and know for ourselves what we can and will be willing to do as the spirit directs and that if we are to keep a positive outlook and a close relationship with the Holy Ghost, the Savior and our Heavenly Father, we will be blessed with peace and joy in every situation. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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