[Image above is from artist Brian Kershisnik, entitled “She Will Find What is Lost,” and is featured for purchase at LatterdayHome.com.]
I have become a big fan of the CTFAR model (circumstances trigger thoughts, which cause feelings, which cause action and then results). I can see it working in my life and in many other people’s as well. The model seems to be fool-proof if understood and applied correctly. But recently I had a question.
I started to wonder how feeling the Holy Ghost fits in with the CTFAR model. My whole life as a Mormon, I have heard (and I have said) things about feeling the Holy Ghost and how it gives you good feelings like peace and comfort.
It gives you feelings?
The CTFAR model teaches that my feelings come from my thoughts; it’s what’s happening inside my mind. If my feelings are coming from my thoughts, how does feeling the Holy Ghost work? I know the Holy Ghost isn’t just a thought I have in my mind.
I really wanted to understand this. Are feelings from the Holy Ghost something entirely different, so the model doesn’t apply? Is it a faith thing? Do my thoughts of spiritual things create the feeling of the Spirit or is the Spirit truly an outside force that gives me feelings? Maybe my thoughts of faith trigger feelings that we call “the Spirit,” but it’s actually just my faith in God being nurtured or activated.
This was all very confusing to think about. I wasn’t satisfied with any of it.
Today I opened my Bible to the Topical Guide to see if I could find any scriptures about thoughts and feelings of the Spirit that would be helpful. In my relatively brief scan, it seemed like the vast majority of verses containing the word “thoughts” are warnings or messages about false or wicked thoughts. Nothing stood out to me regarding thoughts being connected with feeling the Holy Ghost.
So I looked up the word “feeling.” This word has a remarkably small presence in the scriptures. The list of verses containing the word “feeling” or “feel” only takes up a couple of inches. What I found interesting is the suggestion to “see also Heart.” The list of verses containing the word “heart” takes up a full page and a half. That’s a lot of verses! In spiritual lingo, feelings must have a lot to do with our hearts.
This short search in the Topical Guide left me with some insight, but not much to help me understand how the Holy Ghost “makes” me feel anything. I was about to compose my question to ask Jody Moore, who I learned “the model” from, to see if she has some insight.
Then it came to me. (This was sort of a “duh” moment.)
The Holy Ghost is a personage. Just like any person, the Holy Ghost can offer thoughts. We sometimes refer to these thoughts as “the still small voice.” When thoughts from the Holy Ghost are offered to us, our mind responds by either noticing it and also the feeling it creates, or by dismissing it and shifting our focus to something else. Any person (or personage) can offer thoughts to us, but we always have the ultimate authority over whether we keep it in our minds or not (and in our hearts… aka feelings).
The Holy Ghost gives us messages in the form of a thought, which creates a feeling. These feelings usually happen instantaneously (and many times without actual language), so we tend to lump the thought and feeling together, and call it a feeling. This is why we so often hear the phrase “feeling the Spirit.”
The awesome part is this: Because thoughts from the Holy Ghost happen spirit-to-spirit, there’s never a misunderstanding. It’s pure. All the elements of communication we subconsciously factor in such as body-language and tone and context etc, are absent. Messages from the Holy Ghost are clear. They always come from a place of love. Always. And that’s why it feels good.
This makes complete sense to me. I am satisfied.