Digital Only: Young Adults
Are You Capturing Your Spiritual Experiences?
I had the time to document my fun adventures on social media, but I realized I was failing to record what was most important—my spiritual experiences.
It took my friend and me almost four hours to hike up the steep path to the waterfall. When we finally arrived, covered in sweat and dirt, we basked in the euphoric reward of the powerful spray and the roar of the cascading falls.
And then I had this automatic thought come to mind: “You should take a picture of this and post it on Instagram.”
Seriously? I was out in nature, enjoying time with a friend, and one of my first thoughts was to share this moment on social media?
I spend a lot of time capturing life moments. Most of the time, photos just end up saved in my camera roll and thoughts end up jotted down in my journal, but they are fun to share on social media sometimes too. I wish I was better at just living in the moment, but I still love documenting the happiest moments in my life. When I’m having a hard time, it’s comforting to look back through my favorite memories.
But for someone who documents a lot of my life, I tend to forget to capture the greatest things I can record: my spiritual experiences.
There was a period of my life when I was really struggling and decided to start a habit of writing down three things I was genuinely grateful for every day. Some days were harder than others, so I had to take notice of even the smallest gifts or figure out a way to add to my own sunshine, like taking the time to enjoy a few chapters of a book.
But a thought occurred to me one day.
What if I recorded my spiritual experiences like I recorded life on social media? What if I documented moments when I recognized God’s hand in my life?
What It Means to “Remember”
The Book of Mormon uses the word “remember”—including variations like “remembrance” and “remembering”—approximately 220 times.1 Helaman tells his sons Nephi and Lehi, “O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people” (Helaman 5:9). He’s not just saying to recall Benjamin’s teachings; he’s saying to act on them.
When the resurrected Jesus Christ visits the Americas, he tells the Nephites, “If ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:7). Christ isn’t just telling them to keep His image in their minds; He’s telling them to pattern their lives after His.
We can learn from that. We can act on what we believe, not just recall something we’ve forgotten. As 3 Nephi 29:3 says, “The Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made unto his people,” meaning that the Lord will take action to fulfill the covenants He made.
Remembering changes our behavior. It involves documenting what we experience.
And regarding spiritual matters, it means acting on—and sharing—what we believe.
But because there’s always contrast in the scriptures, we also get to learn from the people who don’t remember what God has done for them. For example, no matter how many miracles they’ve seen, Laman and Lemuel always forget how good God has been to them. After Nephi miraculously builds a boat by inspiration from God, his brothers still rebel and tie him up. Nephi writes, “They did forget by what power they had been brought thither” (1 Nephi 18:9).
This is why capturing our spiritually defining moments is so important.
The Importance of Sharing
I spend so much time capturing my life and being afraid I’ll forget some life experience that is important to me. But what would be way worse than losing the memory of a waterfall hike or a good time with a friend would be losing the memory of how much God loves me and has blessed me throughout my life.
So along with filling out my gratitude journal to capture my spiritual moments, I started keeping a list of times I felt the Spirit. Some of these experiences include:
Reading a profound Liahona article2
Having a spiritual conversation with my aunt
Enjoying a beautiful midnight rainstorm
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Let them bring patience to your doubts and understanding to your difficulties. I promise you that as you willingly acknowledge and carefully treasure the spiritually defining events in your life, more and more will come to you. Heavenly Father knows you and loves you!”3
If you’re struggling to feel or to remember your spiritual experiences and want to see God’s hand in your life more clearly, consider creating a list of moments you feel the Spirit each day. Doing so will help you understand how He speaks to you. And when it’s appropriate, don’t forget to share your experiences with friends and family so they can also “have glad tidings of great joy” (Alma 13:22).
There have been plenty of times in my life when I’ve been just like Nephi’s brothers: bitter, confused, and angry when life doesn’t go the way I plan. But unlike his brothers, my heart softens when I remember the spiritual experiences I’ve had and choose to seek out more of them. Through capturing those special moments with my Heavenly Father, I remember the times I’ve felt His love for me through the actions of other people, I am reminded of the ways the Spirit has brought me quiet reassurance, and I reflect on the experiences I’ve had in the temple and in nature.
When I remember those experiences, I have the strength and faith to keep going forward on the covenant path. And when I share those experiences, (just as often as I share moments on social media), I add to others’ faith as well.