For a while, I have been on a personal journey of discovery. There has been a nagging, persistent feeling within me. I have studied, prayed, attended the temple and sought counsel and priesthood blessings to figure out what I was feeling.
One day, a friend challenged me, “Patti, you need to cultivate your ability to desire.” At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about or how it was relevant. I desired good, kind children. I desired a fulfilling marriage. I desired to be of service to my friends and neighbors. I desired a tasty baked treat every now and then. I desired plenty.
However, as I began to search the scriptures and other inspired books on the topic of desire, I realized that in many ways, I had abdicated some my deepest desires. I had actually been distracted by many good but nonessential things and had stopped engaging in my personal growth.
I had been so wrapped up in being a mom and a wife and a loyal friend and a Pinterest-pinner, and a calling-fulfiller, and a suburban-conformer, that many of my desires and growth were discarded out of hand. Who cared about my needs, when there are children to attend to and a spouse to love and a pile of laundry from last night still on the kitchen table?
Making time for me to rediscover what I wanted and what God was trying to whisper to me, I admit, wasn’t always a priority. However, Patricia Holland has stated: “The issue for me, then, is accepting that we are worth the time & effort it takes to achieve the full measure of our creation, and believing that it is not selfish, wrong, or evil. It is, in fact, essential to our spiritual development.” (Jeffrey Holland, Patricia Holland, To Mothers Carrying the Torch of Faith and Family, 2016, p24).
This hit me hard. Learning to have, acknowledge and cultivate desires was essential to my spiritual development. It wasn’t a nice thing, it was a must!
Neal A Maxwell has said: “The absence of any keen desire—merely being lukewarm—causes a terrible flattening (see Rev. 3:15). William R. May explained such sloth: “The soul in this state is beyond mere sadness and melancholy. It has removed itself from the rise and fall of feelings; the very root of its feelings in desire is dead. … To be a man is to desire. The good man desires God and other things in God. The sinful man desires things in the place of God, but he is still recognizably human, inasmuch as he has known desire. The slothful man, however, is a dead man, an arid waste. … His desire itself has dried up” (Neal A. Maxwell, “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts” LDS General Conference, October 1996).
While I was doing good things, I was not fulfilling the measure of my creation – and in disregarding the small whisperings to rise to the challenge, I was being a slothful servant.
I did not desire to be slothful or lukewarm! So I took Alma’s advice and began to “experiment.” (Almas 32:26). I started to try new things–sometimes little things; sometimes big things. I acted on seemingly random thoughts. I worked through fears and allowed myself to be uncomfortable for growth’s sake. Most importantly though is that I engaged consciously in the process of my spiritual growth. (NOTE: It seems good to clarify here, we are talking strictly of experimenting with righteous desires – those desires that might expand, serve, bring light, draw close to God. Unrighteous desires, constrict and are consumptive – greed, lust, competition, gluttony).
Second, I asked for what I wanted, specifically, believing I would receive. Nephi in his search to see the things that his father saw, said, “I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost…” (1 Nephi 10:17) and again “I had desired to know the things that my father had seen” (1 Nephi 11:1). This step of asking, of asserting our will, is key to revelation and bridging the gap between our desires and what God is willing to reveal to us.
Third, I got prepared for when the conversation started. “And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?” (1Nephi 11:2). Throughout the scriptures and modern day revelation, we see this pattern of question and answer that happens with Nephi and the Spirit. We find it with Enos and his praying all night, with Joseph Smith in the grove and in the temple ordinances. I come with a desire, and believe and then anticipate a conversation with the Lord. This type of communication, I learned, is inherent in my birthright and my baptismal covenants.
And last, I recorded and testified of my insights, thoughts and answers to prayers.
“I believe that you can leave the most precious, personal direction of the Spirit unheard because you do not respond to, record, and apply the first promptings that come to you. However, the Lord will not force you to learn. You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you.” (Robert D. Hales, To Acquire Spiritual Guidance, LDS General Conference, October 2009)
Learning this way is definitely not as simple as taking a few minutes to look up information on Google, but I don’t ever want to be lukewarm again. I’m learning anew that this type of transformative conversation with Deity takes consistent, deliberate experimentation and momentum. I am not perfect (did we mention the laundry yet?) but I have learned that I desire this type of continued conversation and growth with God. So I will keep experimenting, asking and testifying until one day I hope to fulfill the measure of my creation.
Patti Cook is a writer, a gatherer, and a lover of light and life. She has have been published in print and online in partnership with Exponent II, Aspiring Mormon Women and She Teaches Fearlessly. Professionally she is an event strategist who loves making people look good, building community and creating one-of-a-kind experiences. You can find more about her professional work at www.tribeandco.company
She lives in downtown Salt Lake City with her ninja husband and three children Riley 10, Serah 8, and miracle baby Grayson 18 months.
Subscribe to receive your free 8x10 downloadable print of "The Living Christ"