What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
User avatar
Beefster
Posts: 213
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by Beefster » 10 Aug 2017, 13:48

I've come to realize that a certain pattern of hopeful thoughts and feelings that I experience is probably not inspired by God. This has become apparent when I realize that I can't think of a single case where these feelings have led to anything resembling success. I remember times on my mission feeling that about knocking on a particular door, only for it to be cussed out by the militant lesbian on the other side. I had that kind of feeling about going to California (something I didn't do because nothing worked out to make that possible). I felt that I would meet my wife there. Then I felt that way about my ex-girlfriend when we started dating- that I would marry her. I mean, I guess that could still happen since we ended on good terms and left the door open to be revisited in the distant future, but that's not the point.

The point is these feelings weren't inspired. But that got me thinking. I don't think that's how God works. I suspect it's extraordinarily rare when God gives someone specific directions or prophecies. He expects us to figure things out for ourselves and does little more than put his stamp of approval on good choices. I think one of the biggest learning experiences in this life is the fact that so much is uncertain, so we should be willing to try things we wouldn't normally try and see what happens. I think that helps us to learn faith in the sense of being willing to do things without having to know much about their outcome while being confident that it will all work out for good in some way or another.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

AmyJ
Posts: 129
Joined: 27 Jul 2017, 05:50

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by AmyJ » 10 Aug 2017, 14:01

I agree that some forms of inspiration are individually tailored form God, some are lucky coincidences, and some are just a certain pattern of hopeful thoughts and feelings.

Unfortunately, in order to dissect out which one is which (if they can be segregated), you would have to understand everything about a person's individual plan in order to define "successful".

A few years ago I knew that we were supposed to add to our family - this was inspiration for both husband and myself. So we worked it out and prepared for it - only to have a miscarriage. God helped me through it - and I reached out to people who could help me through the process.

According to what we knew, we were not "successful" - there was no baby, therefore there was no inspiration. I remember praying through my tears and wondering what was next, and asking if God was aware we had gone a 180 degrees from "the plan". I was not bitter, just woefully confused. I am still confused, but am at peace with the situation enough to realize that it might have been part of God's plan for us, or it might have been a detour we went through because of mortal physical circumstances.

But if "success" is defined by letting us have an experience that softened our hearts, made us more compassionate towards others and drew others to us in our sorrow, then that was "success" - and that might have been the plan God had all along...

[P.S. When the confusion died down we had our rainbow baby we named Terra. So that chapter of my life has a happier ending :P ]

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5284
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by DarkJedi » 10 Aug 2017, 14:22

I have to agree with you. Most of it I think is confirmation bias. I think God has very little interaction with us on purpose, and I think that's backed up in scripture (but certainly not in F&TM). I accidentally came across this old talk recently while searching for something else. It's a BYU devotional from when Elder Oaks was only Pres. Oaks, but I really appreciate it for what it really says - not all prayers are answered.
What about those times when we seek revelation and do not receive it? We do not always receive inspiration or revelation when we request it. Sometimes we are delayed in the receipt of revelation, and sometimes we are left to our own judgment. We cannot force spiritual things. It must be so. Our life’s purpose to obtain experience and to develop faith would be frustrated if our Heavenly Father directed us in every act, even in every important act. We must make decisions and experience the consequences in order to develop self-reliance and faith.
Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answers to our prayers. This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard. It only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation. Perhaps we have asked for guidance in choosing between alternatives that are equally acceptable or equally unacceptable. I suggest that there is not a right and wrong to every question. To many questions, there are only two wrong answers or two right answers. Thus, a person who seeks guidance on which of two different ways he should pursue to get even with a person who has wronged him is not likely to receive a revelation. Neither is a person who seeks guidance on a choice he will never have to make because some future event will intervene, such as a third alternative that is clearly preferable. On one occasion, my wife and I prayed earnestly for guidance on a decision that seemed very important. No answer came. We were left to proceed on our own best judgment. We could not imagine why the Lord had not aided us with a confirming or restraining impression. But it was not long before we learned that we did not have to make a decision on that question because something else happened that made a decision unnecessary. The Lord would not guide us in a selection that made no difference.
No answer is likely to come to a person who seeks guidance in choosing between two alternatives that are equally acceptable to the Lord. Thus, there are times when we can serve productively in two different fields of labor. Either answer is right. Similarly, the Spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial. I once heard a young woman in testimony meeting praise the spirituality of her husband, indicating that he submitted every question to the Lord. She told how he accompanied her shopping and would not even choose between different brands of canned vegetables without making his selection a matter of prayer. That strikes me as improper. I believe the Lord expects us to use the intelligence and experience he has given us to make these kinds of choices. When a member asked the Prophet Joseph Smith for advice on a particular matter, the Prophet stated:
It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence: and we feel fearful to approach Him on subjects that are of little or no consequence. [Teachings, p. 22]
Of course we are not always able to judge what is trivial. If a matter appears of little or no consequence, we can proceed on the basis of our own judgment. If the choice is important for reasons unknown to us, such as the speaking invitation I mentioned earlier or even a choice between two cans of vegetables when one contains a hidden poison, the Lord will intervene and give us guidance. When a choice will make a real difference in our lives—obvious or not—and when we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking his guidance, we can be sure we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal. The Lord will not leave us unassisted when a choice is important to our eternal welfare.
The whole thing is here: Oaks BYU 1981
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 3135
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by nibbler » 10 Aug 2017, 16:30

Beefster wrote:
10 Aug 2017, 13:48
The point is these feelings weren't inspired.
Could those feelings be inspired even though what you hoped would happen didn't end up happening?
Beefster wrote:
10 Aug 2017, 13:48
I think one of the biggest learning experiences in this life is the fact that so much is uncertain, so we should be willing to try things we wouldn't normally try and see what happens. I think that helps us to learn faith in the sense of being willing to do things without having to know much about their outcome while being confident that it will all work out for good in some way or another.
Could the feelings you felt be a form of inspiration that served as a catalyst to get you to go on these journeys that you wouldn't normally try so you could have learning experiences?
“We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.”
― Patrick Rothfuss


“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne

User avatar
Beefster
Posts: 213
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by Beefster » 10 Aug 2017, 16:44

Yeah. Those things are all possibilities. I'm not going to hold my breath. Not sure I can really trust those feelings anymore. That's all.

I'm not saying inspiration never happens, and it's not like they ended up badly in the end. I don't want to have to make assumptions on those things anymore. I'm just going to try stuff outside my comfort zone and not worry if it was inspired or not. I'll probably still act on those feelings from time to time; I just won't assume they're from God.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15318
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 Aug 2017, 21:49

I have had a few experiences where I am confident calling them inspiration - one just this month.

Of course, there is the possibility of confirmation bias, but the timing of the unnatural thought, our subsequent actions, and then a discussion with my son that completely was unexpected (literally no reason to expect it) puts the thought/feeling into the category of inspiration for me.

I wouldn't say I have that sort of experience regularly, but they also aren't so rare as to be astounding to me.

I don't understand why my experiences are different than others' - either more or less often than others. I have no clue. I just know I believe in inspiration, as a concept, because I have experienced what I deem to be inspiration.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Beefster
Posts: 213
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by Beefster » 10 Aug 2017, 22:12

I'm reminded of the one Jeffrey R Holland talk about the fork in the road. He and his son felt as if they should go right... which was quickly a dead end. Perhaps this was because God knew it would work out either way and felt no need to actually inspire them. It didn't actually matter which way they went, so God said nothing and Elder Holland and his son filled in the blank, and it just so happened to match.

Perhaps I overqualified the rarity of this kind of inspiration, though I have come to the understanding that it really doesn't matter whether it's inspired or not if it gets you to act. Most of the time, things will work out no matter what you do.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

DancingCarrot
Posts: 107
Joined: 23 May 2014, 18:24

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by DancingCarrot » 11 Aug 2017, 19:29

A great quote that's made it into my bank recently is:
To action only do you have a right, not to the results thereof.
Honestly, the quote will throw me off my game quite often. I love it, but it also frustrates me when I am set on an outcome happening. My current situation has left me with a confirmed job, but no actual start date. I'm recently got into my own apartment so it's an incredibly inconvenient time for the process to be taking so long. Luckily, due to previous preparation, I've been able to get a part-time job in the meantime. I don't know how long "in the meantime" will last. Years prior I would have been quite anxious about praying to God for exactly the right jobs to apply to and wondering if I had done something wrong or if there was something right I still needed to do. Even though those thoughts are still popping up, I don't take them as seriously anymore. I'm doing what I can, how I can, when I can - in all aspects of the situation.

Is there some lesson for me to learn? Possibly. But I'm not nervously trying to figure it out. Dew distills over a number of hours, after all.

Also, I love that the quote places each of us squarely as individual agents of action.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. -Dumbledore

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine. Together we can see what we will find. -Mumford & Sons

Roy
Posts: 4275
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by Roy » 13 Aug 2017, 07:56

Beefster wrote:
10 Aug 2017, 13:48
I think one of the biggest learning experiences in this life is the fact that so much is uncertain
That is a hard lesson. I recently heard a movie quote that said something to the effect that young people are bestowed with a certain amount of hubris. This gives them the audacity to charge into a risky and uncertain world with confidence.
DarkJedi wrote:
10 Aug 2017, 14:22
It's a BYU devotional from when Elder Oaks was only Pres. Oaks, but I really appreciate it for what it really says - not all prayers are answered.
One of my favorite talks is tragedy or destiny by SWK. https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-sp ... 2?lang=eng
Answer, if you can. I cannot, for though I know God has a major role in our lives, I do not know how much he causes to happen and how much he merely permits.
When I first read it, I found it to be jarring. Here we had an apostle saying, "I do not know." Now I am comforted in that admission.

Ultimately, I believe that feeling that God has confirmed your decision can be good (great even) especially in situations where a mutually exclusive decision must be made and might as well be committed to with full force.
OTOH, it can be a negative if the results of the choice end up being awful and the individual "stays the course" on the assurance of that inspiration long after they should have changed direction.

P.S. "If the choice is important for reasons unknown to us, such as the speaking invitation I mentioned earlier or even a choice between two cans of vegetables when one contains a hidden poison, the Lord will intervene and give us guidance." Did Elder Oaks just say that God will reveal poison in our food if we but pray about it? Not the point he was trying to make I think - but there it is, in black and white.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 373
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35

Re: What I thought was inspiration probably isn't...

Post by dande48 » 13 Aug 2017, 09:45

Roy wrote:
13 Aug 2017, 07:56
"If the choice is important for reasons unknown to us, such as the speaking invitation I mentioned earlier or even a choice between two cans of vegetables when one contains a hidden poison, the Lord will intervene and give us guidance." Did Elder Oaks just say that God will reveal poison in our food if we but pray about it? Not the point he was trying to make I think - but there it is, in black and white.
I almost want to test this, by giving Elder Oaks two cans of vegetables, telling him one is poisoned, and asking him to eat one of them. Would he eat it? I think not. With all respect to President Oaks, if it really worked like that, the GA's wouldn't need their entourage of body guards.
"Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable." - C-3PO

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users