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Reader voices: Am I valiant enough?

By Anne Pratt

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, July 28 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

The sun shines on the Salt Lake Temple during general conference in Salt Lake City in 2009.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Recently in a Sunday School class I attended, the teacher asked the class, “How do you know if you are valiant enough?” The hands shot up and several class members talked about what we needed to do to be considered valiant, and to be qualified of the Lord.

Others in the class wondered if they had done enough; if they WERE enough. As I’ve pondered this question, poignant truths were revealed to my mind.

It's possible to know at any given moment whether we are “valiant enough” for the Lord. If you can feel the Holy Spirit, you are qualified; period. In Doctrine and Covenant 35:19, it states, “…and it shall be given by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, that knoweth all things.”

If the Holy Spirit knows all things, would he align himself with someone who wasn’t righteous enough? Either the Spirit is present, or it isn't. If we can’t feel the Spirit, we have internal work to do.

In Luke, Jesus tells the people, “the Kingdom of God is within you” (see Luke 17:21). One interpretation of that is the Kingdom of God/heaven is not only a place or condition after this life, but can be a condition in this life — inside us. When the Spirit is strongly within, who doesn’t feel heavenly? Because all are God’s children, all have the potential of living in this inner sacred place. When we feel these divine emotions, we are qualified and are enough.

Years ago, I had a profound experience. We had a ward temple excursion, and I had put aside “important” projects that I was working on and rushed to the temple. I remember feeling harried and agitated as I went in.

During the session, I became more and more relaxed, and by the end, I felt engulfed in peace and joy.

As I left the temple, I marveled that I could go from one extreme to the other. As I thought this, I heard the words in my mind that said, “Maintaining your peace is more important than any project you can do!” That was life-changing for me.

I thought I was doing some very worthy projects, but I was clearly taught that they weren’t nearly as important as my inner workings, and the wattage of spirit I was allowing to flow inside my soul.

I realized how easy it was to allow the busy-ness of life to disconnect me from spiritual feelings. I also learned if I don’t feel the Spirit, it’s my doing, and therefore my responsibility to get it back. It takes awareness and effort on my part to reconnect.

Being awake to our inner-being is essential so that we can determine at any time the level of spirit that we are feeling. How are you feeling right now? Can you feel the Spirit? Is it at a weak or strong level?

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Saints could distinguish the gift of the Holy Ghost from all other spirits, for “it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, p. 529). These beautiful feelings create a glow inside our being that through effort and awareness, we are privileged to obtain and sustain.

If we determine we have somehow lost our joy, we can get it back. Intensely focusing on the good, the uplifting, the beautiful, the spiritual (while avoiding negative thoughts and actions) will elevate us back to where we were, and even help us transcend into new and more elevated levels of the spirit. As soon as we notice that we have lost the Spirit, we need to do what it takes to change behavior and direction (by repenting) and return to the peace.

When this awareness to feel and maintain these marvelous feelings is cultivated, we can absolutely know that we are accepted before the Lord, and if we notice that the Spirit has fled, it’s just a matter of doing what it takes to get it back.

We can do it. We can maintain the Spirit of the Lord on a daily basis, and know unequivocally that we are valiant enough.

Anne Hinton Pratt is a writer, seeker of truth and composer. Her email is anne@annehintonpratt.com.

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