Saturday, November 23, 2013

Depression Article #3

Elder Holland gave this talk this years General Conference and I found it both 

enlightening and edifying.  I know so many who suffer with depression 

or have loved ones who suffer from "mental or emotional challenges"  

May this article enlighten you also is my hope:  


"Like a Broken Vessel

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


How do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love?
The Apostle Peter wrote that disciples of Jesus Christ are to have “compassion one of another.”1 In that spirit I wish to speak to those who suffer from some form of mental illness or emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent over a lifetime. We sense the complexity of such matters when we hear professionals speak of neuroses and psychoses, of genetic predispositions and chromosome defects, of bipolarity, paranoia, and schizophrenia. However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.
In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.
Let me leave the extraordinary illnesses I have mentioned to concentrate on MDD—“major depressive disorder”—or, more commonly, “depression.” When I speak of this, I am not speaking of bad hair days, tax deadlines, or other discouraging moments we all have. Everyone is going to be anxious or downhearted on occasion. The Book of Mormon says Ammon and his brethren were depressed at a very difficult time,2 and so can the rest of us be. But today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!
No, this dark night of the mind and spirit is more than mere discouragement. I have seen it come to an absolutely angelic man when his beloved spouse of 50 years passed away. I have seen it in new mothers with what is euphemistically labeled “after-baby blues.” I have seen it strike anxious students, military veterans, and grandmothers worried about the well-being of their grown children.
And I have seen it in young fathers trying to provide for their families. In that regard I once terrifyingly saw it in myself. At one point in our married life when financial fears collided with staggering fatigue, I took a psychic blow that was as unanticipated as it was real. With the grace of God and the love of my family, I kept functioning and kept working, but even after all these years I continue to feel a deep sympathy for others more chronically or more deeply afflicted with such gloom than I was. In any case we have all taken courage from those who, in the words of the Prophet Joseph, “search[ed] … and contemplate[d] the darkest abyss”3 and persevered through it—not the least of whom were Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Elder George Albert Smith, the latter being one of the most gentle and Christlike men of our dispensation, who battled recurring depression for some years before later becoming the universally beloved eighth prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. As President Monson said to the Relief Society sisters so movingly last Saturday evening: “That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.”4 Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.5
In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face “depletion depression,” make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.
If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.
If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver to such, try not to be overwhelmed with the size of your task. Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient. Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to “stand still” or “be still”—and wait.6 Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education.
For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength.7 Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give “love unfeigned.”8 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; … [it] beareth all things, … hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.”9

Also let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions! Stephanie Clark Nielson and her family have been our friends for more than 30 years. On August 16, 2008, Stephanie and her husband, Christian, were in a plane crash and subsequent fire that scarred her so horrifically that only her painted toenails were recognizable when family members came to indentify the victims. There was almost no chance Stephanie could live. After three months in a sleep-induced coma, she awoke to see herself. With that, the psyche-scarring and horrendous depression came. Having four children under the age of seven, Stephanie did not want them to see her ever again. She felt it would be better not to live. “I thought it would be easier,” Stephanie once told me in my office, “if they just forgot about me and I quietly slipped out of their life.”
But to her eternal credit, and with the prayers of her husband, family, friends, four beautiful children, and a fifth born to the Nielsons just 18 months ago, Stephanie fought her way back from the abyss of self-destruction to be one of the most popular “mommy bloggers” in the nation, openly declaring to the four million who follow her blog that her “divine purpose” in life is to be a mom and to cherish every day she has been given on this beautiful earth.

Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says,10 we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.
I testify of the holy Resurrection, that unspeakable cornerstone gift in the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ! With the Apostle Paul, I testify that that which was sown in corruption will one day be raised in incorruption and that which was sown in weakness will ultimately be raised in power.11I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.”12 Until that hour when Christ’s consummate gift is evident to us all, may we live by faith, hold fast to hope, and show “compassion one of another,”13 I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."



Depression Article #2

Jeffrey R Holland from the Quorum of the twelve apostles gave this talk in  2006 about depression.  I have found his talks inspiring and uplifting.  I hope his words will speak encouragement to those who suffer from the illness of depression:


Broken Things to Mend

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up.
The first words Jesus spoke in His majestic Sermon on the Mount were to the troubled, the discouraged and downhearted. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” He said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”1 Whether you are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or among the tens of thousands listening this morning who are not of our faith, I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul. I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair.
To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know. It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave. He said it in the beginning of His ministry, and He said it in the end. He said it to believers, and He said it to those who were not so sure. He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”2
In this promise, that introductory phrase, “come unto me,” is crucial. It is the key to the peace and rest we seek. Indeed, when the resurrected Savior gave His sermon at the temple to the Nephites in the New World, He began, “Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”3
When Andrew and John first heard Christ speak, they were so moved they followed Him as He walked away from the crowd. Sensing He was being pursued, Jesus turned and asked the two men, “What seek ye?” They answered, “Where dwellest thou?” And Christ said, “Come and see.” The next day He found another disciple, Philip, and said to him, “Follow me.”4Just a short time later He formally called Peter and others of the new Apostles with the same spirit of invitation. Come, “follow me,”5 He said.
It seems clear that the essence of our duty and the fundamental requirement of our mortal life is captured in these brief phrases from any number of scenes in the Savior’s mortal ministry. He is saying to us, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,” He promises. “I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.”
My beloved friends, I know of no other way for us to succeed or to be safe amid life’s many pitfalls and problems. I know of no other way for us to carry our burdens or find what Jacob in the Book of Mormon called “that happiness which is prepared for the saints.”6
So how does one “come unto Christ” in response to this constant invitation? The scriptures give scores of examples and avenues. You are well acquainted with the most basic ones. The easiest and the earliest comes simply with the desire of our heart, the most basic form of faith that we know. “If ye can no more than desire to believe,” Alma says, exercising just “a particle of faith,” giving even a small place for the promises of God to find a home—that is enough to begin.7 Just believing, just having a “molecule” of faith—simply hoping for things which are not yet seen in our lives, but which are nevertheless truly there to be bestowed8—that simple step, when focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, has ever been and always will be the first principle of His eternal gospel, the first step out of despair.
Second, we must change anything we can change that may be part of the problem. In short we must repent, perhaps the most hopeful and encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary. We thank our Father in Heaven we are allowed to change, we thank Jesus we can change, and ultimately we do so only with Their divine assistance. Certainly not everything we struggle with is a result of our actions. Often it is the result of the actions of others or just the mortal events of life. But anything wecan change we should change, and we must forgive the rest. In this way our access to the Savior’s Atonement becomes as unimpeded as we, with our imperfections, can make it. He will take it from there.
Third, in as many ways as possible we try to take upon us His identity, and we begin by taking upon us His name. That name is formally bestowed by covenant in the saving ordinances of the gospel. These start with baptism and conclude with temple covenants, with many others, such as partaking of the sacrament, laced throughout our lives as additional blessings and reminders. Teaching the people of his day the message we give this morning, Nephi said: “Follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, … with real intent, … take upon you the name of Christ. … Do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer [will] do.”9
Following these most basic teachings, a splendor of connections to Christ opens up to us in multitudinous ways: prayer and fasting and meditation upon His purposes, savoring the scriptures, giving service to others, “succor[ing] the weak, lift[ing] up the hands which hang down, … strengthen[ing] the feeble knees.”10 Above all else, loving with “the pure love of Christ,” that gift that “never faileth,” that gift that “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, [and] endureth all things.”11Soon, with that kind of love, we realize our days hold scores of thoroughfares leading to the Master and that every time we reach out, however feebly, for Him, we discover He has been anxiously trying to reach us. So we step, we strive, we seek, and we never yield.12
My desire today is for all of us—not just those who are “poor in spirit” butall of us—to have more straightforward personal experience with the Savior’s example. Sometimes we seek heaven too obliquely, focusing on programs or history or the experience of others. Those are important but not as important as personal experience, true discipleship, and the strength that comes from experiencing firsthand the majesty of His touch.
Are you battling a demon of addiction—tobacco or drugs or gambling, or the pernicious contemporary plague of pornography? Is your marriage in trouble or your child in danger? Are you confused with gender identity or searching for self-esteem? Do you—or someone you love—face disease or depression or death? Whatever other steps you may need to take to resolve these concerns, come first to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust in heaven’s promises. In that regard Alma’s testimony is my testimony: “I do know,” he says, “that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions.”13
This reliance upon the merciful nature of God is at the very center of the gospel Christ taught. I testify that the Savior’s Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair.14 From the beginning, trust in such help was to give us both a reason and a way to improve, an incentive to lay down our burdens and take up our salvation. There can and will be plenty of difficulties in life. Nevertheless, the soul that comes unto Christ, who knows His voice and strives to do as He did, finds a strength, as the hymn says, “beyond [his] own.”15 The Savior reminds us that He has “graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands.”16Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.
Brothers and sisters, whatever your distress, please don’t give up andplease don’t yield to fear. I have always been touched that as his son was departing for his mission to England, Brother Bryant S. Hinckley gave young Gordon a farewell embrace and then slipped him a handwritten note with just five words taken from the fifth chapter of Mark: “Be not afraid, only believe.”17 I think also of that night when Christ rushed to the aid of His frightened disciples, walking as He did on the water to get to them, calling out, “It is I; be not afraid.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Christ’s answer to him was as it alwaysis every time: “Come,” He said. Instantly, as was his nature, Peter sprang over the vessel’s side and into the troubled waters. While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well—he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In newer terror he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Undoubtedly with some sadness, the Master over every problem and fear, He who is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment, stretched out His hand and grasped the drowning disciple with the gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”18
If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.
In Nazareth, the narrow road,
That tires the feet and steals the breath,
Passes the place where once abode
The Carpenter of Nazareth.
And up and down the dusty way
The village folk would often wend;
And on the bench, beside Him, lay
Their broken things for Him to mend.
The maiden with the doll she broke,
The woman with the broken chair,
The man with broken plough, or yoke,
Said, “Can you mend it, Carpenter?”
And each received the thing he sought,
In yoke, or plough, or chair, or doll;
The broken thing which each had brought
Returned again a perfect whole.
So, up the hill the long years through,
With heavy step and wistful eye,
The burdened souls their way pursue,
Uttering each the plaintive cry:
“O Carpenter of Nazareth,
This heart, that’s broken past repair,
This life, that’s shattered nigh to death,
Oh, can You mend them, Carpenter?”
And by His kind and ready hand,
His own sweet life is woven through
Our broken lives, until they stand
A New Creation—“all things new.”
“The shattered [substance] of [the] heart,
Desire, ambition, hope, and faith,
Mould Thou into the perfect part,
O, Carpenter of Nazareth!” 19
May we all, especially the poor in spirit, come unto Him and be made whole, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, amen."


Depression

I had a brother who suffered from depression and he wound up taking his own life.  I have friends who suffer from depression and a brother n law who also suffers from depression.  It is a nasty disease.  I found this article on line and hope it help someone out there who is suffering from depression:

 

8 Suggestions for Strengthening Self-Esteem When You Have Depression Depression and low self-esteemoften go hand-in-hand. Low self-esteem leaves individuals vulnerable to depression. Depression batters self-esteem. *
“Depression often distorts thinking, making a once-confident person feel insecure, negative and self-loathing,” said Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression. 
Past positive or neutral thoughts become “I am incompetent,” “I suck at everything,” or “I hate myself,’” according to clinical psychologistDean Parker, Ph.D.
(On the other hand, “High self-esteem is associated with certain positive cognitions or beliefs, such as ‘I am good,’ ‘I am a success,’ [or] ‘I am valuable to others,’” he said.)
While low self-esteem may be deeply rooted, you can start chipping away at the layers of loathing. Each day, you can engage in an activity that improves your self-esteem. Below, Serani and Parker share their tips on strengthening self-esteem, whether it’s in the moment or over time.

1. Deal with dysfunctional thinking. “Research shows that negative thinking is the linchpin responsible for setting off low self-esteem,” Serani said. Depression also colors your world. “Depression corrodes judgment and thinking styles,” she said. Negative thoughts become destructive, making you susceptible to poor decisions and abusive situations, she said.
Parker likened this cycle to a bad mp3 that “repeatedly states one’s failures and self-doubts until they feel defeated and see no hope or future.”
Addressing these corrosive cognitions is critical. A valuable strategy is to investigate your thoughts for accuracy. Serani suggested asking these three questions:
  • “What evidence supports my thinking?
  • Would others say this is true about me?
  • Does feeling this way make me feel good about myself or bad about myself?”
This also includes replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. But, as Parker underscored, this doesn’t mean repeating empty affirmations. Rather, it’s about creating and using factual and meaningful self-statements.
The reality is that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Having a solid self-esteem means accepting and appreciating all your sides.  As Psych Central’s founder, John Grohol, Psy.D, noted in this piece on self-esteem:
People with a good and healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves for who they are, appreciate their own worth, and take pride in their abilities and accomplishments. They also acknowledge that while they’re not perfect and have faults, those faults don’t play an overwhelming or irrationally large role in their lives or their own self-image (how you see yourself).
2. Journal. Keeping negative thoughts in your head only makes them bigger, Parker said. Journaling about these thoughts brings them down to size, he said. It also helps you see the good things that doexist in your world.
Thus, in addition to listing the negative thoughts, Parker suggested recording the positive aspects of your life, such as your health or loved ones. (For instance, for every negative thought you record, jot down something positive beside it.)
3. Seek positive support. “Surround yourself with people who celebrate your strengths, not your weaknesses,” Serani said. Doing so not only feels good, but it also “helps solidify positive thinking,” she said.
4. Create visual cues. Visual cues provide perspective and help you curb negative self-talk, Serani said. For instance, she suggested leaving positive notes around your house and office and keeping inspiring quotes on your desktop.
5. Begin the day with a boost.  Find books, calendars and websites that are uplifting and inspiring to you, Parker said. For instance, he mentioned this power of positivity page on Facebook. Or start your day with a dose of laughter, he said. (Humor heals.) Facebook also has funny memes you can follow, he said. While they might seem simple, these daily gestures are another way to create a supportive environment.
6. Soothe yourself. Both Serani and Parker stressed the importance of nurturing yourself, even when this is the last thing you think you deserve or want to do. (In fact, that’s when it’s especially vital.)
“Feed your mind, body and soul in ways that make you feel special,” Serani said. These ways don’t need to be grand (and overwhelming). For instance, you might carve out time in your day for quiet and stillness, she said. (Even several minutes work, she added.) You might enjoy simple comforts such as a “hot cup of coffee, a beautiful song or a colorful sunset,” she said. Or you might “celebrate what you already have and not what you desire.”
7. Discover and pursue your passions. When you’re depressed and your self-esteem feels like it’s sinking daily, it’s easy to overlook your passions. Parker suggested readers take the time to “write a list of things you used to love to do and stopped doing along with things you always wanted to do but haven’t done yet.”
He gave the example of a client who believed she wouldn’t amount to anything and regularly compared herself to her successful friends. When Parker first asked about her passions, she couldn’t identify any. Parker suggested she take a closer look and contemplate her positive qualities and interests. After writing these down, she realized she wanted to become a personal trainer. Now she’s taking courses and working toward her certification. Identifying and pursuing her passion has boosted her confidence and given her a greater purpose.
8. Redefine failure, and keep trying. When you have low self-esteem, it’s common to think of yourself as a complete and utter failure. But failure is part of success, Parker said. Failure doesn’t characterize you as a person or determine your self-worth.
When Parker coached Little League, he’d tell his players that he didn’t care if they made errors on the field. What he did care about was that they were swinging and missing rather than just standing there.
There are countless stories of people persevering despite facing multiple rejections. Think of any writer, scientist, artist or performer.Everyone has faced rejection at various points in their lives.
As Parker said, “There’s no guarantee that everything you do [will bring] positive feedback. All you need is one indication of success.” For instance, getting into one college out of 10 still makes you a success, he said. “Seize the positive statement,” he said. In other words, focus on the positive feedback, and keep going.
Strengthening your self-esteem isn’t easy. But these practical pointers can guide you in starting the process. If you think your self-esteem is shattered, work with a therapist to build it back up. It’s never too late to feel good about yourself."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Language of The Spirit

Yesterday turned out to be Temple day for a couple friends and I.  The morning started with my faithful temple friend wanting to do a session in the AM. My time got messed up so we wound up doing sealings.
As usual we were in the sealing room with a great bunch of people.  I loved sitting there with them and basking in the Spirit they brought into that wonderful room.
Then later a friend texts to let me know she was going to do an Eve session and was wondering if I would like to go with.  I called my temple friend who was more than anxious to return.

In the foyer we ran into my "vacum guy" who is also my friend.
As I introduced him to the gang, my friend turned to me and simply said,
"He is full of light."
I had to agree he is an awesome guy filled with the Spirit of compassion and integrity.
Upon entering the foyer we ran into our Branch President and his wife.  Both their faces lit up and there were hugs and excitement all around.  I love the Spirit of Charity that they both carry deep within their souls.
Upon reaching the top landing lo and behold there was my favorite Stake President who always brings a smile to my face.  As he eagerly approached me and shook my hand I found myself filled with gratitude and awe for this great man carries within him the Spirit of wisdom and patience.
As I was changing into my temple clothing I found my soul overflowing with the Spirit of Joy due to the interactions which started as soon as I entered through those hallowed doors.  I remember thinking"it can't get any better than this."  Boy was I wrong.
As we prepared  to enter the session one of the workers let us know that it was going to be a "Spanish speaking session."  She then showed us how to use the translating device.  My friends each took a device but I found myself declining stating that I wanted to experience the "language of the Spirit."
The session began and all I can say is OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  I had an idea what was being said because of all the years I have been attending sessions but to be honest I had no clue what was being said.
My first thought was "what a beautiful language."  Then I found myself getting lost in the non-verbal language.
There was a lot of tears shed during that session from my hispanic brothers and sisters.
The Spirit was so powerful and intense I felt as if my heart was going to pound right out of my chest and such a feeling of incredible joy and excitement consumed my entire being.  I was full of Light and truth I could feel myself beaming.
As my friends and I regrouped I came to find that the same Spirit that had spoken to me had also spoken to them and filled them with excitement and joy also.  As we said our good-byes my temple friend turned to me and asked, "Lorie, have you ever felt something so strong that it just fills you and you find you just can't sit still.  It was like electricity running through my body."  "I have never felt the Spirit that strongly before."
I smiled and shared with this faithful temple friend, "that is the Spirit speaking to you."
Smiling ear to ear my friend then asked, "Can I tell people about my temple experience?"  Finding my own smile I related to my friend, "yes, you can if you feel that strongly, after all that is how we share our testimonies with the assistance of the Spirit."  My temple friend just shook his head and commented, "I want to feel like this all the time."  As I watched my friend leave I found myself hoping that this faithful friend will continue to feel the great soothing power of the Spirit.

"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:  And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
(1 Kings 19:11-13)
"And it came to pass that they were overshadowed with a cloud of darkness and an awful solemn fear came upon them.  And it came to pass that there came a voice as if it were above the cloud of darkness, saying: Repent ye, Repent ye, and seek no more to destroy my servants whom I have sent unto you to declare good tidings.  And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul."
     (Helaman 5:28-30)

"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 then from God?"
(D&C 6:22-23) 

"Teaching by the Spirit—“The Language of Inspiration”

Teaching Seminary Preservice Readings Religion 370, 471, and 475, (2004), 35–40

We live and teach amid such a wide variety of individual personalities, experiences, cultures, languages, interests, and needs. Only the Spirit can compensate for such differences. The Lord has told us that “the sword of the Spirit … is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17); it can facilitate communication and penetrate as nothing else. Thus holy scripture and the words of living prophets occupy a privileged position; they are the key to teaching by the Spirit so that we communicate in what the Prophet Joseph Smith called “the language of inspiration” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], p. 56).
Neal Maxwell
ELDER NEAL A. MAXWELL
OF THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES

In Old Testament Symposium Speeches, 1991, 1–6
Perhaps the special, evocative powers of scriptures are bound up with our flashes of memory from the premortal world or at least call forth our predispositions nurtured for so long there.
Inspired scriptures involve sanctified words.
Staying close to the strategic scriptures does not diminish the role of tactical revelation which can guide the teacher.
Even so, being in an increasingly secularized world, we should recognize the truth of Paul’s words, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Many individuals refuse to be informed by the Spirit. However, as we all know, when speaker and hearer—writers and readers—are spiritually conjoined, it is a special thing, as revelatory reciprocity occurs:
“Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?
“Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together” (D&C 50:21–22).
John Taylor confirmed this by saying: “There is no man living, and there never was a man living, who was capable of teaching the things of God only as he was taught, instructed and directed by the spirit of revelation proceeding from the Almighty. And then there are no people competent to receive true intelligence and to form a correct judgment in relation to the sacred principles of eternal life, unless they are under the influence of the same spirit, and hence speakers and hearers are all in the hands of the Almighty” (in Journal of Discourses, 17:369).
We know of Joseph Smith’s special experience in reading James 1:5, “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart” (Joseph Smith—History 1:12). James was inspired to so write and Joseph to so respond to words! Others have benefitted and will continue to benefit from James 1:5, but its primary purpose was to be part of the spiritual evocation leading to the last dispensation.
The Spirit not only informs and increases mutual understanding, it convinces! The Spirit can convince the student to “experiment upon” (seeAlma 32:27) the gospel, so that the prized personal verification will come and individuals come to know for themselves that these things are true.
Brigham Young said of the Spirit’s convincing power:
“Anything besides that influence, will fail to convince any person of the truth of the Gospel of salvation. …
“… But when I saw a man without eloquence, or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true. … My own judgment, natural endowments, and education bowed to this simple, but mighty testimony. There sits the man who baptized me, (brother Eleazer Miller.) It filled my system with light, and my soul with joy. The world, with all its wisdom and power, and with all the glory and gilded show of its kings or potentates, sinks into perfect insignificance, compared with the simple, unadorned testimony of the servant of God” (in Journal of Discourses, 1:90–91).
Whether transmitting or receiving under the influence of the Spirit, then, we hasten the process in which an individual is “quickened in the inner man” (Moses 6:65; see also Ephesians 3:16Psalm 119:40). This often involves high, spiritual drama, but, more frequently, it also involves quiet moments of spiritual significance.
Yet, when we speak about teaching by the Spirit, it is not about a mystical process. Teaching does not remove responsibility from the teacher for prayerful and pondering preparation. Teaching by the Spirit is not the equivalent of going on “automatic pilot.” We still need a carefully worked out flight plan. Studying out something in our own minds involves the Spirit in our preparations as well as in our presentations. We must not err, like Oliver Cowdery, by taking no thought except to ask God for his Spirit (see D&C 9:7).
Seeking the Spirit is best done when we ask the Lord to take the lead of an already informed mind, in which things have been “studied out.” Additionally, if we already care deeply about those to be taught, it is so much easier for the Lord to inspire us to give customized counsel and emphasis to those we teach. Thus we cannot be clinically detached when teaching by the Spirit.
An example from the secular world will help to make a point. When Winston Churchill was only twenty-three, he wrote an essay on rhetoric which was never published but was found among his papers after his death. Therein he spoke of the necessity of communicating with feeling, saying:
“Before he can inspire them with any emotion he must be swayed by it himself. … Before he can move their tears his own must flow. To convince them he must himself believe. … He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king. He is an independent force in the world. Abandoned by his party, betrayed by his friends, stripped of his offices, whoever can command this power is still formidable” (in William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932–1940[Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1988], p. 210).
President Harold B. Lee gave us the spiritual equivalent:
“You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul. You teachers, the testimony that you bear, the spirit with which you teach and with which you lead, is one of the most important assets that you can have, as you help to strengthen those who need so much, wherein you have so much to give” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1973, pp. 178–79; or Ensign, July 1973, p. 123).
This accompaniment of proper feelings, instructive in themselves, is facilitated by the eloquence of personal example. Others will respond to the added authority of example when it is present in our lives. Then the Spirit can especially attest to the authenticity of our words, and others can “believe on [our] words” (D&C 46:14).
The early faith of the beginner involves trust in the words of the faithful. At the outset, he may have “faith in the words alone of my servant” (Mosiah 26:15). “And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe” (Alma 22:7). Such discipleship brings its own rewards: “Blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them” (Mosiah 26:16).
President Joseph F. Smith urged parents, “Teach to your children these things, in spirit and power, sustained and strengthened by personal practice. Let them see that you are earnest, and practice what you preach” (“Worship in the Home,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1903, p. 138; emphasis added). It is the absence of such visible earnestness which deprives so many presentations of their desired influence even when content is commendable.
Students come to see and feel the compatibility of the Spirit’s presence with those who are seriously working on further developing the key celestial attributes and virtues. These attributes are cardinal. They are eternal. They are portable. Chief among them is “loving kindness” (see1 Nephi 19:9D&C 133:52). Indeed, our degree of “earnestness” is measured by our personal, spiritual improvement.
I pause to interject a few thoughts from section 133 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It speaks of Jesus’ second coming, of the dramatic solar display that will happen to the sun and the moon. Then it says, “And the stars shall be hurled from their places” (v. 49). The voice of Jesus will be heard as he speaks of having trod the winepress alone (v. 50). Then, in what seems to me to be a precious perspective, he goes on to say that we will remember his loving kindness forever and ever (v. 52). Though stars are hurled from their places, what we will remember most from that occasion is his loving kindness!
The Spirit does not impose itself on an unwilling teacher or student. Resisted, it will quickly and simply withdraw.
A wise man has said that we need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed. One of the most powerful functions of the Spirit is to bring things to our remembrance.
The Spirit stimulates pondering in hearers and encourages their intellectual honesty. It was so with Amulek, who candidly acknowledged that before his spiritual awakening he knew and yet would not know—that he was called and yet would not hear (see Alma 10:6). The Spirit induces that kind of candid reflection. It may happen in an instant with a teenager or a college student, or in a family circle or in quiet conversation. The Spirit will not tolerate intellectual dishonesty, but instead encourages intellectual honesty. This process is truly worthy of being described as the “sword of the Spirit” (see Ephesians 6:17).
Actually, the Spirit ties students to the Lord directly. Loyalties and perspectives are correlated. Even though parents and teachers “drop off,” geographically and generationally, the Spirit continues to minister. In spurning the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, ancient Joseph not only refused to be disloyal to trusting Potiphar, who had been so generous to him, he also refused to “do this great wickedness … against God” (Genesis 39:9; see vv. 7–20). That kind of intellectual, spiritual arrangement stays intact over the years and is nourished over the years. It gives us courage in circumstances no one could have foreseen.
Little wonder that weekly, when we partake of the sacramental bread, we ask to have the Spirit always with us. Only then are we safe. Otherwise, without the Spirit, we are left to ourselves. Who would ever want to solo anyway?
There is no better example of how faith comes by hearing than what I now relate. Brigham Young was a special student of the gospel, as we all know. He went out of his way—often amid hardship—to listen to the Prophet Joseph. Later, he reflected:
“In my experience I never did let an opportunity pass of getting with the Prophet Joseph and of hearing him speak in public or in private, so that I might draw understanding from the fountain from which he spoke, that I might have it and bring it forth when it was needed. My own experience tells me that the great success with which the Lord has crowned my labors is owing to the fact of applying my heart to wisdom. I notice that even my own natural brothers when they come into my office, which is very seldom, if there are important matters on hand—when I am teaching the brethren the principles of government, and how to apply them to families, neighborhoods and nations, will leave the office as though it was a thing of no account. And this is the case with too many of the Elders in the Church. This is mortifying to me. In the days of the Prophet Joseph, such moments were more precious to me than all the wealth of the world. No matter how great my poverty—if I had to borrow meal to feed my wife and children, I never let an opportunity pass of learning what the Prophet had to impart” (in Journal of Discourses, 12:269–70).
The Spirit brings substance as well as feeling. Note these examples from scripture:
“These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man” (D&C 18:34).
“Believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me” (2 Nephi 33:10).
“The word had a … more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than … anything else” (Alma 31:5).
When a man works by faith he “works by words” (see Lectures on Faith7:3).
“But this generation shall have my word through you” (D&C 5:10).
Having talked of those basic dimensions of teaching by the Spirit, may I suggest some do’s and don’ts. The following do’s and don’ts affect the learning climate. The do’s will invite the Spirit and the don’ts will discourage it.
Do
Don’t
  1. 1. 
    Focus on the teaching moment by becoming settled and serene in your own heart.
  1. 1. 
    Be upset by Martha-like anxieties.
    Recall how Joseph Smith was once ineffective after he and Emma had a disagreement? Inviting the Spirit is difficult, but it won’t come if we are crowded with other concerns.
  1. 2. 
    Be meek and “I will tell you in your mind” (D&C 8:2).
  1. 2. 
    Try to impress in order to be heard or seen of men.
  1. 3. 
    Have considerable eye contact with and listen to the students.
  1. 3. 
    Be so busy presenting that either listening to the Spirit or to the students is not possible. Don’t expect the class to listen to you when you are not listening to the Spirit.
  1. 4. 
    Use inspired one-liners which will be remembered and retained.
  1. 4. 
    Multiply words or concepts.
    Would we cherish the Sermon on the Mount if it filled three volumes?
  1. 5. 
    Know the substance of what is being presented. Ponder and pray over its simple focus.
  1. 5. 
    Present a “smorgasbord,” hoping someone will find something of value.
    The lack of focus leaves the receivers uncertain.
  1. 6. 
    Proffer relevant applications and implications of what is being taught.
  1. 6. 
    Answer questions no one is asking.
  1. 7. 
    Ask inspired questions.
  1. 7. 
    Be afraid of questions.
  1. 8. 
    Be prepared to learn from what you say while under the influence of the Spirit.
    I heard President Marion G. Romney say on several occasions, “I always know when I am speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost because I always learn something from what I’ve said” (in Boyd K. Packer,Teach Ye Diligently [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], p. 304).
  1. 8. 
    Be afraid to ponder in front of the students.
  1. 9. 
    Provide moments of deliberate pause. The Spirit will supply its own “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
  1. 9. 
    Be afraid of inspired silences.
  1. 10. 
    Let the doctrines speak for themselves.
    “Every principle God has revealed carries its own convictions of its truth to the human mind” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 9:149).
  1. 10. 
    End up “selling” the doctrines.
    Professor Arthur Henry King wrote of Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision:
    “When I was first brought to read Joseph Smith’s story, I was deeply impressed. I wasn’t inclined to be impressed. As a stylistician, I have spent my life being disinclined to be impressed. So when I read his story, I thought to myself, this is an extraordinary thing. This is an astonishingly matter-of-fact and cool account. This man is not trying to persuade me of anything. He doesn’t feel the need to. He is stating what happened to him, and he is stating it, not enthusiastically, but in quite a matter-of-fact way. He is not trying to make me cry or feel ecstatic. That struck me, and that began to build my testimony, for I could see that this man was telling the truth. …
    “… And it isn’t the prose of someone who is trying to work it out and make it nice. It is the prose of someone who is trying to tell it as it is, who is bending all his faculties to expressing the truth and not thinking about anything else—and above all, though writing about Joseph Smith, not thinking about Joseph Smith, not thinking about the effect he is going to have on others, not posturing, not posing, but just being himself” (The Abundance of the Heart [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986], pp. 200–201).
  1. 11. 
    Bear your testimony appropriately and specifically.
  1. 11. 
    Just say “I have a testimony.”
Of course there are individuals who are keeping their covenants who lack teaching charisma. Of course there are those whose lives are in order who are not exciting as teachers. However, the Spirit blesses the efforts of all who live worthily. It endorses what they say or do. There is a witnessing authenticity which proceeds from the commandment keeper, which speaks for itself. Therefore, I prefer doctrinal accuracy and spiritual certitude (even with a little dullness) to charisma with unanchored cleverness.
However, part of what may be lacking, at times, in the decent teacher is a freshening personal excitement over the gospel which could prove highly contagious. Since we can only speak the smallest part of what we feel, we should not let that “smallest part” shrink in its size.
Finally, as in the words of the Book of Mormon prophet, “O be wise; what can I say more?” (Jacob 6:12).
I close by sharing with you several examples. Your examples are at least as good or better than mine.
It was a Sunday night about thirty years ago. We had assembled in the institute at the University of Utah. President Hugh B. Brown was supposed to be the speaker. Time for the meeting came, and he was not there. Those who had planned the meeting were much concerned and embarrassed at the “mix up.” On that night we had with us the highly articulate Richard L. Evans. While Elder Evans spoke to us, someone was sent out to fetch President Brown. They found him walking around the block on which his house was located. He hurried quickly and changed and came and spoke to us. And it was one of the marvelous experiences of my life. Under the direction of the Spirit, he taught us about the Restoration and gave us his testimony. None of us who were there will ever forget.
I remember being present in the auditorium of the high rise, April 1974. President Spencer W. Kimball was giving what, in effect, was his maiden speech as President of the Church. His first press conference, in his meekness, indicated he would simply be content, if he could, to keep things on the same track that President Lee had worked on. On that day there came the electricity in his address, “Go ye into all the world.” We felt it! President Benson, as the President of the Twelve, commented upon it after. We were all moved and touched. There was a meeting, in the timetable of the Lord, of the man and the moment. The Spirit endorsed it, and we felt the vibrancy of that occasion. As indicated earlier, whether it is in a large audience or simply in a conversation of two people, the Spirit operates.
I think of the inspired question asked a little over a year ago by the head of the Critchfield family in Payson, Utah. Their son, Stanley, had been stabbed to death in Dublin, Ireland, while serving on a mission there. The shock and disappointment came with the notification. Then that humble father asked the little brother of fifteen, “Son, in about four years you will be nineteen. The prophet is going to call you to go on a mission. You see what has happened to your brother Stanley. What are you going to do?” “I’ll go, Dad. I’ll go” was the reply. The Spirit sanctified that inspired question and response as it sanctifies communication in large congregations. Frozen in time and space is the marvelous, wonderful response of that lad who is now saving his money to go on a mission. His response, after all, does not differ that much, does it, from the words of Nephi, “I will go and do”?
I have mentioned inspired silence. As one who has had a bit of a tendency to fill silence in, it has been difficult for me to learn at times to be still. Happily, there have been a few such occasions. I learned indirectly of a World War II buddy who was recuperating in a Phoenix hospital from heart problems. A good seventy in the local ward wrote me a letter, telling me of my friend’s difficulty. I had lost track of him for what would have been thirty years. I wrote him a letter, then called him, and sent him some literature. Then I called him again after he had gone home to Duncan, Arizona. “How are you doing, Harry?” “Fine.” “Have you read what I sent?” “Yes, I’ve read some, but …” “Harry, I want to come down and baptize you.” Long pause. Fortunately, I didn’t rush in to fill it. Then came his words, “Would you do that?” So, soon I traveled over to Duncan, Arizona, and had the great privilege of baptizing and confirming my friend, Harry White. The Spirit operated upon him. He had a wonderful wife who was a member of the Church and others who, for years, had tried to speed his conversion. Do not be afraid of silence!
You all know the scripture, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). You and I may translate that into what is our equivalent of, “Be quiet.” It is not that. It is to “be still.” In that special stillness there comes a subduing and a focusing. Extraneous things are extruded. Be still, and let that stillness operate on those special occasions when the Spirit informs, inspires, or may call something to someone’s remembrance.
How blessed we are to know what we know, to be called to do what we do, to be in his kingdom. Yes, this is a time of increasing secularization. It is a time in which the things of the Spirit look like foolishness to more and more people on this planet. But those who know, know that they know.
Sister Maxwell and I were at a fireside for single adults a few months ago. Among those who were kind enough to come up and shake hands was a divorcee. She did not speak with me; she spoke with Colleen, though I shook her hand. She handed to me a little note that said, “I remember knowing, but I don’t know anymore.” Among those whom you will inspire are those who once knew, but do not remember anymore. Some like Amulek knew, but would not know, but resist.
How blessed we are that the Spirit enhances what we do with our own meager talents. May God bless you and sustain you. May he give to you the sense of how important you are to the work of this kingdom and generations yet unborn who will in the years to come, and surely throughout all eternity, rise up and call you blessed.
On those long morning drives on a winter road, when so few seem to appreciate what you are doing, know that you are about your Father’s business. He will bless you with his Spirit. You will know the joy of being encircled in the appreciation of those you have taught. Let them see you as men and women of Christ, in the process of becoming, and you will have his Spirit to be with you, always! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
Yesterday my friends and I were taught some beautiful individualized lessons by the Spirit.  May we all desire to be taught by such a great teacher.