As a young single adult, I’ve felt like so many voices vie for my attention.
One of the things I wasn’t quite prepared for in my move from Provo to Salt Lake was how…exposed I felt to all the loud and contrasting voices in the world, and I know that many young adults in my shoes are struggling to find their way in the midst of these voices clashing all around them. One of the spiritual impressions I’ve received repeatedly over the past several months is this:
Listen to MY voice, Ariel.
In the digital age, we’re surrounded by the voices of the media that bring news of things like terrorist attacks and the refugee crisis. Voices of contention over the policy change concerning same-sex marriage households. Voices that say it’s useless to want an eternal marriage, because statistically speaking, the odds aren’t in our favor. Voices that tell us we’re not enough. Voices that sow doubt, that encourage us to abandon the faith we’ve always known. Voices that say there is no hope. Voices of confusion. Voices of despair.
How do we hear the voice of God? How do we cut through the fog and the storm in the midst of the “war of words and tumult of opinions” we find ourselves in with increasing frequency?
Earlier this year I was at kind of a low point. My dad had just gotten remarried after our first Christmas without our mom, and I was still reeling from all the changes that had happened in my life so quickly. I went to a seminary teaching class that my friend was in, and one of her classmates read this scripture:
And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.
For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.—D&C 98:11-12
I pulled out my phone and wrote this:
Ye shall live—breathe, be sustained from one moment to the next, base your hopes and comforts and happiness upon—every word of the Lord. You wait for it and cling to it desperately, because nothing else is certain. You lose family, security, home, people you love, and the word of God is the only thing that sustains you. It comes piece by piece, daily manna from heaven, and thereby the Lord tries our faith and purifies us as he leads us along.
It struck me in that moment how much I need God—how much I need His voice to guide me in these critically important years. At the time that revelation was given, the Saints were fleeing Missouri because of intense persecutions. They were losing their homes, possessions, family members, everything. In our lives, as in theirs, there are times that the layers of security, home, family, and all other things that we rely upon are stripped away one by one, and there is nothing left but the Savior. And it’s then that we either choose to walk that path with Him, being sustained by His word from moment to moment, or turn away completely.
Do you live by the word of God? Can you honestly say that His voice is the only one that really matters to you?
Honestly, sometimes that has been a hard one for me. There have been times in my life when I know God wants me to do something, but I’ve shied away because I’m afraid of what the consequences will be, afraid of what people will say, afraid of what I’ll have to give up, afraid that it will be too hard to do what He asks. (My decision to go on a mission was like that, but that’s a story for another day.)
Ultimately, however, I come back to these basic questions:
Do I know God loves me?
Do I trust Him? Do I take Him at His word when He says He will come through?
Yes. Yes I do.
I believe we are reaching the point in the world’s history where every member of the Church will need to be able to recognize and be intensely, personally attuned to the voice of God in order to discern between truth and error. If we as young adults are to not just overcome our challenges, but rise to become who God wants us to be, if we want our single years to be full of purpose and meaning, if we truly want the peace we yearn for in this confusing world—we need to listen to His voice.
I believe that being able to hear the voice of God is not just a gift, but a skill that requires practice and diligence to develop, and it’s available to everyone that really wants it. Nephi backs me up on this in 2 Nephi 26:13:
And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.
Here’s the thing—if you believe that God doesn’t speak to you, or that he won’t reveal Himself to you as you diligently seek Him with real intent, that’s a lie. Let it go.
You know the answers to this. You know that we put ourselves in a place where we can hear the voice of the Lord through diligent scripture study, meaningful prayer, Sabbath and temple worship, service, and choosing uplifting media. I think you’ll also find that if you pause for a moment and are honest with yourself, you already know in your heart of hearts what it is that you need to change to feel the Spirit of God in your life.
As you hear the voice of God you will have the power to do what He asks you to do. You will be able to stand against opposition and act with confidence that you are doing the right thing, no matter what other people say. You will become who you are meant to be—a powerful agent for good in the kingdom of God.
So do it.