Spiritual Experiences

Here I reflect on three spiritual experiences I considered defining in my life. I share the experience, my intial interpretation, and my current interpretation.

Called to Serve
As a nine or ten year-old, I watched the church video Called to Serve by myself one Sunday afternoon. Suddenly, I found myself bawling uncontrollably. I ran to my bedroom, knelt at the side of my bed, and prayed that I would be able to become a missionary.

Initial Interpretation: It was God's will for me to become an LDS missionary.

Current Interpretation: It was my desire to "have a mission," to be noble and self-sacrificing, to love people, and to help them with their problems.

Called to Serve II
As a sixteen year-old, I felt very inspired by my church leaders recounting stories of their youth as mission presidents' children. I prayed several times that God would bless me to have experiences like they did. On December 19, 1997 I learned that my parents had been called as mission presidents and would begin serving the following summer.

Initial Interpretation: I was special; I had a special mission to perform. God had inspired my prayers and then answered them. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was definitely true.

Current Interpretation: I wanted to be special, to have special opportunities to be influential to others. I knew that my parents were financially stable, completely dedicated to the Church, my father was a recognized business and ecclesiastical leader, he associated with those who called mission presidents and general authorities...all prerequisites to being called to serve. Is it possible that the calling was not a confirmation that the Church was true, but rather a confirmation of my ability to read the patterns, use them to validate my sense of self-worth, and even predict the future?

Called to Serve III
When I was eighteen years-old, I was upset because of a decision made by one of my sisters. I asked my older brother to give me a blessing. At the end of the blessing, he mentioned that the Lord was preparing me for future opportunities to serve. I had the distinct impression that I would be called as the Relief Society president of my freshman ward in the fall. When the bishopbric visited me a month or so later to extend the calling, I was not in the least surprised.

Initial Interpretation: I could feel okay because I was special. I had a special mission to perform.

Current Interpretation: It made me feel better to think that even if other people didn't make "the best" choices, I still could. Subconsciously, I knew how to play the cards to become a leader and have my worth validated. This became clear to me after I was called and saw how all the other sisters had responded to the bishopbric's request for information. I was the only one who'd said I would be willing to serve in ANY capacity. I think I even chose my counselors based on how well they discounted or minimized their own personal preferences.

Looking back, none of my most spiritual experiences were witnesses of Christ. They were witnesses of my own desires, validations of my personal worth. I wanted to know that God thought I was "good enough," and I recommited myself to him when I felt he was telling me I was.

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