Young Women Lesson: How Can the Holy Ghost Bless Me Every Day?
In my opinion, this lesson has the potential either to be deeply affirming and encouraging, or to be utterly alienating. Of course that might be said of any lesson. But when we study the manifestations of the Holy Ghost in the scriptures, one takeaway might be that no one you have ever met has had an experience like that. Who among us has had a “cloven tongue like as of fire” sitting on you? (Acts 2:3) In 3 Nephi 19 we read that what the people “desired most was that the Holy Ghost should be given them” (v.9) but then what follows includes being encircled by fire and multitudes of angels descending and ministering. While many of us might have earnestly desired the Holy Ghost, the angel part is not relatable on a personal level. Even the passages that list the various forms the Spirit might take (diversity of operations, prophesy etc.) can feel like a list of talents you don’t have. So. I think it is important to try to steer this in a positive, relatable direction.
One way of thinking about the Holy Ghost and the Gifts of the Spirit that I have found to be useful is to relate it to the pop psychology book “The Five Love Languages.” The author of this book posits that people express love and feel loved through “languages” like gift giving, touch, quality time, acts of service and words of affirmation. For example, perhaps your partner is someone who says “I love you” by doing service – washing your car, doing the dishes, picking up items at the store. But if that is not your love language (perhaps you need someone to pay compliments and to frequently say “I love you”) then all that service won’t be sending the message your partner thinks it is. I don’t intend to digress further into the topic, I just wanted to give a little overview in case some readers are not familiar with this book.
I think it can be helpful as we read lists of the gifts of the Spirit to think of them in terms of “Spirit languages” – some people feel the Spirit strongly in contexts that others really don’t. The Holy Ghost does not work through people in the same way, but one manifestation is not more valuable than another. The important thing is to figure out your own “Spirit languages” – how you can hear/feel the Holy Ghost, and how the Holy Ghost works through you. These may or may not be the same.
Read Galatians 5:22-23 and write the fruits of the spirit on the board: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (I’m using the ISV not KJV here for clarity).
Where or when do you feel peaceful/kind/joyful/patient/good/gentle/self-controlled?
Encourage students to write their answer, or draw it, in a notebook or on a sheet of paper. Some students do better if they have more time to process their ideas before sharing.
(Do not value any answer over another – encourage thinking beyond “seminary answers” though of course those are acceptable too.)
Answers might include:
- When I am alone
- When I am with people I love
- When I am in nature
- When I am in my home
- When I am at Church
- When I am in the Temple
- When I listen to specific music
- When I am playing music
- When everything around me is quiet
- When my body and mind are still
- When my body is moving and I feel less distracted
I imagine your class will think of many more – my point here was to highlight that there can be outright opposites from person to person. If those opposites don’t appear organically in the class, write them on the board anyway. It’s likely that at least one student felt like they would be “wrong” if they gave a different answer. There isn’t a right and wrong to this, there is only “I feel….”
Have you ever felt a prompting, or as if your question to God was answered? If so, how? Again, give them time to process. Repeat it if necessary. Again, write the answers on the board.
- When reading scriptures
- When reading a book (not necessarily church related)
- A friend said something that made me think
- While I was praying I felt like I had an answer
- I just had a good feeling about something.
- I had an ucky feeling about something.
- I felt like I should call a friend or talk to ______ about it
- The answer on the test just came to me
When have you done something that you felt “I bet that made God happy.” If students just don’t feel like anything they’ve done “Made God Happy” modify the question – what kind/patient/forgiving etc. thing did you do that felt good?
(This may well tie in to the Love Languages ideas – after all, God is love and the way we are inspired to show that love may fall along similar lines.)
- I felt great at the service project.
- I felt great in the Temple.
- I felt great when I showed good sportsmanship toward the other team.
- I felt great when I thanked my Dad for cooking dinner.
- I felt great when I hugged my sister when she was crying.
- I loved making a card for _______.
- Secret Santa felt wonderful
- I visited my grandma and just listened to her and held her hand. I know it made her feel better.
Armed with all this information, I think you are well placed to then enter the question of the Holy Ghost as it is discussed in the scriptures and the lesson manuals. Work with the definitions there to tie them to the manifestations you already see in your class. Some examples follow:
v. 8 The Word of Wisdom – you knew the right thing to say to your brother in that moment
v. 8 The Word of Knowledge – you felt like your studying paid off and you had answers pop into your remembrance.
v. 9 The Gift of Faith – I felt a confirmation that Jesus Christ is my Savior
v. 9 The Gift of Healing – I was able to comfort my sister after our dog died
v. 10 – Working of Miracles – This is trickier – a miracle is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps a family rift was healed that seemed irreparable, or prayers for healing of a loved one were answered.
v. 10 – Prophecy – To be a prophet means to offer witness of Jesus Christ. You don’t need to foretell the future. This is not the same thing as being the Prophet.
v. 10 – discerning of spirits. I knew that I should not go on that date, or that these kids would not be good friends for me to spend time with. I knew that man at the bus stop was bad news.
v. 11 – diverse kinds of tongues. Perhaps you learn languages easily. Perhaps you have the right thing to say come to you, or you’re able to explain your testimony well even though usually you feel shy.
v. 12 – interpretation of tongues. Perhaps you can understand what someone is trying to tell you, or you know how someone feels even if they don’t have the words to say it.
All these work by the selfsame spirit.
I want to close by sharing my own experience with this. Not because I think you should share it with your class, but because perhaps it’ll get your juices flowing as to how you can express your own relationship to the Spirit. A few months ago I was desperately low. I struggle with depression and anxiety, and neither therapy nor my drug cocktail at the time was sufficient. One morning I was reading the scriptures in desperation, feeling absolutely nothing whatsoever. Just utterly numb inside. I felt a prompting “Call Hilary.” So I did. We are not super duper close – we virtually never chat on the phone. But I asked “can you talk?” and we did for about twenty minutes and she helped me feel better about my spiritual numbness. After that I felt like I should tell my ministering brother and his wife what I am feeling, and ask them to pray on my behalf. Why? Because honestly, I’m not faithy. I don’t have enough faith to think God is going to answer my prayers. But theirs? Yes. In other words, while my Gift of Faith may be weak, my Gift to Have Faith on the Testimony of Others is not. And I kid you not, within a day or two my body adjusted better to my drugs and I began an upswing. My point with this story is that it could be easy to say that I have the “crummy” gifts. I don’t have faith, I have the believe in other people’s faith. Secondhand faith. I don’t have the answer. I have the gift of knowing whom to call. But here’s the thing. I got what I needed from God. I heard what I needed to hear and I got the healing that I needed. My gifts are not in any sense lesser or weaker. Arguably it takes a certain amount of courage to need to admit weakness to other people in order to receive the answers, instead of being able to get answers in my bedroom. One gift isn’t better than the other. Having more gifts than another person does not matter. Our gifts may change over the course of our lives. What matters is learning that we are already hearing the Spirit, and are already acting by the Spirit, we just need to recognize it so we can do so more often.