I love reading your questions and answers and find them both uplifting and inspiring. I desperately need your help… I am recently divorced, having been separated for over a year from my wife of 17 years. I met a beautiful woman online and in person who lives in another state and we have become quite close and very good friends. I respect her tremendously and the truth is I love her very much and would take her to the nearest Temple except for one “small” thing. She does not feel the same way about me as I do about her.
To be honest, we had only known each other a week or so, if that, and I know I came on pretty strong, but she emailed me a letter in which she told me that she came to the decision that she loved me and that if I were to ask her to marry me then she would say yes. She said she had decided to let that decision sit for several days and prayed about it earnestly, but that the spirit was telling her it wasn’t right…that I wasn’t right for her. Now I can’t argue with the Holy Spirit, but I feel all of this has happened too soon and far too quickly for it to feel right to anyone. So here is my question: Can one get an answer to a question at one point and then get a totally different answer at another point in time? I tried to tell her that in my honest opinion making a decision that important with so little knowledge about me was asking too much even of the Spirit. I discussed this issue with her father as well, an extremely wonderful and spiritual man, and he seemed to agree that the Lord asks of us to give serious thought and effort to the things we ask of him and that often the stupor of thought we receive or the feeling that a choice we have made isn’t right is the Lord’s way of telling us to go back and think again. My lady friend seems to equate this to the incident with, I believe, Martin Harris, that once a message is received that it should be final. Is she right? Am I wrong? I love her, should I just face facts and give up? I appreciate any advice you can give me to understand all that has transpired, my heart aches for her and I feel like there is still hope for us, but am I forcing something that will never bear fruit? Thanks!
There are a couple of issues at hand. 1) How do we understand and interpret messages from the Holy Spirit, and 2) should we hang in there or just give up.
One might consider messages from the Holy Spirit to be final only under the conditions that they circumstances are static. If circumstances changes, decisions could be altered. Of perhaps deeper import is how are we to know that the impressions we receive are messages from the Holy Spirit or just our own feelings about a given circumstance. In the first place, if someone says, or feels, that they have received a message from the Holy Spirit, that feeling should never be challenged, as it could be destructive to the faith of the person. But since inspired decisions could change with changing circumstances, it may not always be appropriate to consider such decisions as final.
A case in point: Oliver Cowdery was promised by the Lord that he could assist the Prophet Joseph in translating some of the records possessed by the Prophet. However, because Oliver did not proceed in an acceptable manner the offer by the Lord was rescinded–see Doctrine and Covenants, Section 9. In addition, Section 9 talks of the confirmation of the voice of the Spirit by a burning of the bosom. However, such manifestations as that are not common, and may be reserved for such applications as the interpretation of unknown languages, as is the case in Section 9, and other activities where such a palpable confirmation of the Spirit is vital.
A much more common manifestation of the Spirit is that revealed to Oliver in D&C Section 8, wherein Oliver is told
Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. (D&C 8:2-3)
To be told in one’s mind is to receive a thought. To be told in the heart is to have a feeling of confidence about the associated thought. This, of course, is much more subtle than a burning of the bosom, and therefore requires more faith in its acceptance. However, it is a very prevalent manner in which the Holy Spirit conveys information to those who seek with faith to know the will of the Father.
Now to the practical matter of whether you should hang in there or walk away. What if you were to tell your friend that you respect her feelings that it may not be appropriate to consummate your relationship in marriage, but would it not be possible to just be friends, and to be together from time to time? It may be possible to extend a friendly relationship for a time during which you would not push any romantic issues. You might leave up to her the possibility of receiving other impressions about a more permanent relationship as time goes on.