Connecting to the Spirit in an Unspiritual Place
June 2024

Digital Only: Young Adults

Connecting to the Spirit in an Unspiritual Place

During my military service in South Korea, I was cut off from the Church, but a few things kept my faith strong.

young man reading and pondering the scriptures

Growing up in South Korea, I was often the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among my friends and classmates. Sometimes it was difficult to explain why I didn’t do the same things my friends did, but standing up for my beliefs always seemed to strengthen my faith.

However, when I became a young adult, I was faced with more temptation and put in a more spiritually stale environment than I had ever been in before.

A Spiritually Stale Place

In South Korea, young adult men are required to serve in the military for a few years. When I was in the middle of my military service after serving my mission, I felt more alone in my faith than ever—for many reasons.

For one, it was hard being separated from other Church members and my family, but another difficulty was being surrounded by things that go against our standards. For example, alcohol is everywhere in South Korea, especially in the military. After drills it was common for everyone to meet to drink together. When they found out I didn’t drink alcohol, they did whatever they could to force me to. In their eyes, I wasn’t just sticking to my values—I was going against culture.

Unfortunately, it was also common for my fellow soldiers to talk about women in a worldly and sexualized way that made me feel uncomfortable. It was a challenge to hear their bad language every day. Additionally, I couldn’t attend church, partake of the sacrament, attend the temple, or do much of anything gospel related during this time.

For a while, I felt so alone and wondered what I could do to feel the Spirit and keep my faith strong. How could I stand in holy places when I didn’t have a choice to?

The Little Things

After a while of struggling, I decided that I needed to take responsibility for feeling the Spirit, even in a worldly environment. One thing that helped me was bringing my scriptures I used on my mission along with me during my service. It truly is the little habits we do each day—reading our scriptures, praying, and looking for opportunities to serve and be more like the Savior—that keep us connected to the Spirit.

One day I came across 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

While reading that scripture, I realized that even though I felt alone, Heavenly Father was with me. If I continued to reach out to Him and my Savior, They would help me find a way to faithfully endure my military service and come home with a testimony stronger than before.

Remembering Who I Am

The scriptures became a lifeline for me during this time when I was disconnected from church and other members. Talking to Heavenly Father each day and reading my scriptures kept me connected to Him and reminded me of my divine identity, which was another key to surviving spiritually.

Remembering that I am a beloved child of heavenly parents kept my foundation of faith strong, especially when I was faced with temptation.

Elder Alan T. Phillips of the Seventy recently taught: “Jesus Christ wants you to know and have a relationship with your Father in Heaven. …

“You are His child. If you are feeling lost, if you have questions or lack wisdom, if you are struggling with your circumstances or wrestling with spiritual dissonance, turn to Him. Pray to Him for comfort, love, answers, and direction. Whatever the need and wherever you are, pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father.”

Even if you’re not able to attend the temple, church, or partake of the sacrament for whatever reason, remembering your divine identity can always provide a way for you to reconnect with the Spirit and deepen your relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

We Always Have Access to Holiness

When I finished my military service, I prioritized spiritual habits more than ever. Being able to attend the temple, partake of the sacrament, and be fully invested in the gospel was such a contrast to the environment I had been in for the previous two years. I now feel the fulness of the blessings, comfort, and joy that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us. And I’m glad I remained faithful until this was possible.

If you ever find yourself in circumstances that require you to stand in places that aren’t quite so holy, hold on to your faith. I’ve learned so much about planting our seeds of faith in solid ground and allowing those roots to take hold so we can withstand the temptations and challenges of the world.

No matter how dark your environment or your challenges may seem at times, don’t forget that you have constant access to heaven through prayer, through the scriptures, and through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

As Elder Joaquin E. Costa of the Seventy recently taught: “What gives [us] the power to go through hard things? What gives an extra layer of strength to go on when everything seems lost?

“I have found that the source of that strength is faith in Jesus Christ as we intentionally seek to come unto Him each and every day.”

Wherever you stand, if you are striving to follow Jesus Christ and hold onto your faith, anywhere can become a holy place where you can receive and share His light.