One of my greatest difficulties communicating with Asperger’s syndrome has to do with how deeply and powerfully I feel (emotionally) and the seemingly formless amoeba of ideas in my head that I struggle to put into some semblance of spoken language. This becomes particularly challenging when I’m trying to find the right word to express something. More often than not, adjectives like amazing, huge, beautiful, horrific, painful and difficult are pathetic and almost insulting when compared to the magnitude of what I really think and feel.
My wife has suggested that this difficulty of mine actually comes to me because I have true charity, but don’t know how to harness it properly yet. I was told in my patriarchal blessing that charity would be my most used spiritual gift, so I do believe that my feelings reflect that gift of the Spirit, but that I haven’t “grown into it” yet.
But the main point I want to make with this has to do with things prophets have expressed as paramount concerns in our lives. I’m talking about things like studying the Book of Mormon daily, working hard at building our relationships, families and homes, and learning to develop the gift of discernment. Much of that has to do with the idea expressed in this quote from Visions of Glory by John Pontius (pg. 65):
“…anytime Christ descends and speaks to a mortal, it is so weighty with meaning that mere words cannot convey the fulness of the truths given. The message is layered. First are the words He speaks, and then there is a vastly larger body of truth you receive spiritually, layer upon layer, more truth than you can understand for years afterward. One small moment in the presence of the Savior can last for a lifetime.
This is the reason the scriptures are so powerful, because they contain the words spoken by Christ, and this layered truth is still there, spiritually interwoven with those words. It takes a lifetime of spiritual growth and obedience to be able to receive the deeper layers. They are truly there, and they contain the great mysteries and greater truths He desires that we acquire and enjoy in our lifetime” (p. 65).
Those spiritual layers aren’t just in the scriptures, but in everything Christ created, including us. Everyone has those spiritual layers to them. Everyone has all the minute, nuanced details of our thoughts, feelings, desires, experiences and beliefs written in layers into every fiber of our being. All of this information is forever woven into our very sinews, so as John Pontius says at another point in his book, Christ can literally read us like a book.
I have pondered on this idea for a long time and wished and longed and yearned and desperately desired the ability to do that.
If you’ve seen Ender’s Game, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say this, but there’s a part where Ender wonders if, instead of attacking their alien “enemies,” there’s not a more diplomatic solution. Since they can’t speak English and their communication is more telepathic, Ender wonders, “What if we could communicate with them? What if we could… you know… think to them? What if they could think to us?”
Obviously the Lord’s plan for me has not yet allowed me to have telepathic or empathic abilities. However, something like that would be so helpful for me to dig through all the spiritual, emotional and mental layers of those I love so I could communicate more the true nature of my thoughts, feelings, and experiences completely and accurately.
A specific example of the true force, sanctity, and power of being able to dig into deep spiritual layers is illustrated in Tad R. Callister’s book The Infinite Atonement when he writes about the angel who came to minister to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yes, I know I reference that book a lot, but there’s just so much good stuff in there! Here’s the quote:
“What divine messenger offered such aid? … Certainly at such a critical moment in the destiny of man, this angel must have been a being of towering stature [spiritually]. [The Angel] could not take the Savior’s place … but what he could do, he no doubt wanted to do. Perhaps he was there to console him, to comfort him, to support him, maybe even to bless him. The scriptures are silent as to the nature of the exchange between Christ and his angelic visitor. No doubt this was one of the those moments so sacred it was not to be recorded in the annals of man. Evidently certain thoughts of the [S]pirit are so lofty, so poignant, that thee cannot be reduced to the oral language or written word of man. They simply defy mortal expression. Surely this was one of those moments” (p. 123-124).
The process of transcending mortal language to be able communicate on such a higher level and discern those spiritual layers is actually—believe it or not—a gift we can have right now. I won’t claim that it is easy to attain to such a high spiritual stature. Such “Zion-esque” abilities take time, immense righteous sacrifice, and personal spiritual capacity to develop. However, according to John Pontius in his other book, The Triumph of Zion, we still may not have to wait until then to get to that point.
“Do we, as individuals, have the authority to pursue a personal place in Zion? For nearly two centuries most of us have left the future of Zion in the hands of the latter-day Church with no sense of personal responsibility other than faithful membership. Is it even appropriate for us to adopt a personal quest to obtain a Zion stature when the Church says little about this aspect of the latter-day Zion? Even if it is within our reach, is it within our calling and our privilege to do this? Can we just march up to the veil and purchase a seat on a bus that the Lord apparently mothballed some 160 years ago?
I believe the answer to all of these questions is a resounding yes! The first reason is that the bus to Zion was not mothballed, it was merely given a more personal destination. The second reason for so believing is that the Lord is no respecter of persons. Anyone who obeys the laws of Zion must, by divine justice, be given the blessings of Zion—”even to as many as believe on my name” (JST Genesis 14:29)—regardless of whether it is time for Zion to exist as a city or not” (p. 173).
Can you imagine how amazing that would be? Imagine how much contention we could avoid if we could simply see… er… feel into another persons heart spiritually. Think about how much easier it would be to refrain from passing judgement on people and holding grudges if we could instantly understand the whole context of someone’s words or actions. We could become one so much faster! And as the Savior said, “. . . if ye are not one, ye are not mine.” Of course, we should still stop judging and holding on to grudges either way, but one day mortal language and communication will no longer be stumbling blocks. Why not make that day sooner than later?
I don’t know about you, but I fully intend to work towards that goal. I have complete faith that the ability to comprehend all the spiritual layers of those I love can be mine just as soon as I find within myself the will to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to reach such a goal. Why not you, too? I say go for it!
Paul served a mission in the then Canada Toronto West Mission and recently moved to Orem, Utah, after living for ten years with his late wife, Lorraine, in Hamilton Ontario before her passing in 2019. He loves missionary work, piano, blogging (you can find his personal blog here!), deep spiritual conversations with friends, and hosting his podcast, Stepping Into Freedom. He can solve a 5x5x5 Rubik's cube, and puts a lot of time into gospel scholarship.