I sat facing the Nauvoo temple after a spiritual day with my EFY group. The temple was radiant against the dark, star-filled sky and a peaceful feeling entered my heart as I reflected on everything I had learned during the week.
One of my counselors was sharing his testimony when he told us to spread out, kneel down, and ask Heavenly Father how He felt about us. I remember thinking it was a strange request. I had always known He loved me and I felt awkward asking. After all, I wasn’t going through any major difficulties and surely other more righteous people deserved to feel His love more than I did (or so I thought). But something told me I needed to do it, so I knelt outside the house of the Lord and asked, “Heavenly Father, how do you feel about me?”
The next few minutes were indescribable. The peace and comfort I felt were unlike anything I had ever experienced, and in that moment, I knew my Father in Heaven loved and knew me like I knew the sun would rise in the morning because I felt it. The Spirit powerfully reminded me of who I was, where I came from, and that I was a precious daughter of God, loved beyond my imagination.
I often reflect on this experience that happened when I was only 16 years old. Time has passed, but vivid memories of the love I felt come flooding back when I remember that night. I still find it incredible that a loving Father in Heaven heard and paid attention to one teenager’s short but sincere prayer that night, and He did the same for others in my group as well. This experience has helped me through my most difficult challenges as I have remembered and felt His love over and over again.
Unfortunately, there have been moments where I have forgotten my infinite worth as a daughter of God. Living in a world with a culture of perceived perfection isn’t easy, but it’s something we all deal with every day. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably forgotten your essential role in God’s plan before, too.
Our society is one of competition and comparison. We tend to focus on the material things we don’t have instead of the abundance of spiritual blessings we enjoy. It’s hard not to when we’re immersed in social media culture where everyone portrays the very best parts of their lives. Aside from feelings of inadequacy, everyone has different personal struggles and sin that can weigh them down.
It’s nearly impossible to feel God’s love when we focus on our shortcomings and trials, but too often we forget that He makes us whole through His perfect grace. In Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk “Forget Me Not,” he reminds us, “Many of you are endlessly compassionate and passionate with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.”
1. To feel God’s love, you first have to be patient and loving toward yourself. We fall short all the time. We all struggle. God knew we would make mistakes and stumble along our way in life, but we can become better through Him and on His timeline.
2. The second thing you should do is pray to know how He feels about you. Find a quiet place where you can kneel down, pray sincerely, and be ready to hear an answer. Maybe you can find a quiet place in your home, a nice spot out in nature, a quiet corner of the temple or on the temple grounds. No matter where you are, prepare to feel the Spirit and invite it into your heart.
It’s also important to keep an open mind as you pray to feel God’s love. Everyone receives inspiration differently, and my experience most likely won’t look anything like yours. He will answer your prayer in a way that will be meaningful to you because He knows and loves you so personally. It may take time. Keep trying. The answer will come.
Specifically asking to feel God’s love will make you more aware of the abundance of blessings you experience every day. I often find myself filled with love when I see a particularly beautiful sunset or when I remember my worth as a daughter of God. Remembering Him in your everyday life will help you feel His love strongly and often.
When you go through hard times or forget your worth (as we all do sometimes), remember the loving words of Elder Uchtdorf. He said, “Just think of it: You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time! He who created the stars knows you and your name–you are the daughters of His kingdom.”