Sharing Spiritual Experiences

by: wheatmeister

July 13, 2013

Is it possible to over-share our spiritual experiences?  Are some too sacred to share?  Is there a fine line between touching, heartfelt sharing and a blubbering basket case?  How do you gauge the difference?

Should we keep our spiritual experiences private or share them?

  • Depends on the promptings of the spirit. (67%, 28 Votes)
  • Cast not your pearls before swine. (19%, 8 Votes)
  • What spiritual experiences? Most "spiritual experiences" are just Hallmark moments. (14%, 6 Votes)
  • Every member a missionary. Fire at will! BYO Kleenex. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 42

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7 Responses to Sharing Spiritual Experiences

  1. Rockies Gma on July 14, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    Seriously……what does the photo have to do with the subject?

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  2. Jack Hughes on July 15, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Many members do tend to over-share. I have sat through many a testimony meeting, rolling my eyes with embarrassment, hoping no first-time investigators are present to witness the spectacle.

    More often than not, though, individual extemporaneous anecdotes presented as “testimonies” are too contextual or too personal to be of spiritual value to anyone other than those directly affected by the events in question. I don’t find myself drawing closer to the Lord hearing someone else’s faith-promoting experience that I simply cannot relate to, no matter how many tissues the speaker requires.

    As a child, it did not make sense to me why a man or woman would voluntarily step up to the mic and sob while talking about personal, spiritual things. Crying, as I understood, was a function of physical and/or emotional pain. The message I took from watching grown men weeping was that true faith requires sadness/pain and public embarrassment. I still don’t fully understand it. I’ll wager that at least some of the cryers are just unconsciously going along with the trend, fed by the pressure to conform and “spiritual competition” found in many LDS communities.

    To me, a testimony of the Gospel is a deeply personal thing; I don’t feel comfortable making a dramatic, public display of it, because I have nothing to prove to anyone else.

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  3. Heber13 on July 15, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    It seems mormon culture perpetuates the value that crying and emotional expressions are signs of spirituality. I think it confuses sentimentality with true spirituality. Deeply spiritual individuals hold their spiritual experiences sacred, and only share with trusted family and friends, and don’t look to validate these with the entire congregations.

    Not all testimony meetings are fluff and unimportant. But I do think it is possible to over-share, and confuse outward emotional outbursts as a false sincerity to true testimony.

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  4. Rockies Gma on July 17, 2013 at 3:05 AM

    That’s sad. Many emotional experiences have no spirituality in them at all. But ALL spiritual experiences involve emotion. The human barometer for emotion registers as many levels as there are people. Those who feel embarrassed for the displayed emotional aspects are assuming other people should show emotion — or not — according to their own emotional quotient.

    My husband used to feel as you two guys do. Then he got prostate cancer and was given estrogen therapy for almost a year. He began tearing up (and does to this day) when he felt emotional, and when sharing anything spiritual. He couldn’t help it, and he told me he felt so badly that he had ever judged people for tears during testimonies.

    I quit bearing mine because I’d become emotional and felt embarrassed that I embarrassed others, or made them feel mine wasn’t real because I got choked up. I was a quiet choker-upper, but I would always see my husband’s head down with his reddened cheeks. It’s hard to be spiritual when the one you love is embarrassed. So I only bear my testimony when the Stake P. requires it when my husband is being sustained into or being released from one of those callings where they call the wife up to testify of what a great guy the husband is. I don’t allow myself to be emotional but in my case, that precludes any spirituality as well. But I figure that’s okay. I don’t want my sacred thoughts and feelings treated with eye-rolling cynicism and disdain. Like Mary of old, I ponder all these things and keep them close to my heart.

    We are all different. When you guys bear your testimonies or speak of spiritual feelings and remain unemotional, I wonder if those who tear up judge you to be un-spiritual and claim they do not feel the spirit when you speak? I’ve come to feel that the listener is responsible to seek/feel the spirit while listening to talks, testimonies, and lessons. I’ve noticed I have a hard time doing this if I don’t “work” at it. It seems so much easier to be out of tune rather than in tune with holiness.

    I can’t speak for you guys, but I know in my life, I’ve found that rather than spiritual experiences being over-shared, it’s more that we listeners are under-prepared to be in tune. your thoughts?

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  5. Hedgehog on July 18, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    Rockies Gma, my testimony (as a woman) comes over as cold, clinical and devoid of emotion. Seems I don’t get up in testimony meeting that often for precisely the opposite reason you quit.
    I like your point about the onus being on the listener to do their part.

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  6. hawkgrrrl on July 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    The point about emotionalism is interesting. My mom takes a medication that makes her weepy. She finds it embarrassing that she is often crying and blowing her nose as a result of the medication; however, at church, she has had people coming up to her non-stop to tell her how wonderful they think it is that she feels the spirit so strongly and what a spiritual giant she must be. She keeps explaining that it’s just her medication, but Mormons are attuned to interpret crying as spiritual.

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  7. Heber13 on July 18, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Rockies Gma, you make a good point about judging and the listener’s responsibility. Judging may be something we all do as humans, but just vary in how we try to control it or keep it at bay so it doesn’t get expressed negatively to others.

    I guess for me the importance is the context of what is being shared. Even the most sincere person, very emotional and crying, but talking about a hangnail they had, is not inspiring to me. Maybe it is to them, but to me, the subject doesn’t seem significant to me. That would be my judgement…and so usually I sit and go through the mental gymnastics that it may not be important to me, but it may be to them, and I wouldn’t want to act as though their needs are unimportant…so I would respect them and try to support them in love…but it would not be spiritual to me just because they were emotional about it. And I’m sure my life crises must often seem like hangnails to others.

    I have also listened to Richard G Scott in a monotone talk who brings beautiful gospel truths to light that apply to my life, and I get choked up because it pricks me and inspires me, certainly not always because of his delivery of it.

    I guess I just am usually listening to the context, not how it is delivered. Emotion is usually an indication it is sincere to the person talking, but a non-emotional delivery of something that sincerely applies to me can also be very spiritual.

    Its probably OK if the two aren’t always in sync. And emotion or non-emotion don’t always equate to spirituality.

    I’m still pondering your point that “ALL spiritual experiences involve emotion.” Hmmm…I’m not sure I find that always rings true for me.

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