I was never really the type to pray for personal revelation. I didn’t feel a need for guidance and approval about every little decision. I just sort of did what felt authentic for me, figuring that Heavenly Father would expect that I would use my mind, free agency, conscience and nudgings of the Holy Ghost, to navigate my way through life. Why would He have given those blessings to me if he didn’t expect me to use them? I expected that if Heavenly Father disapproved, He would let me know. Sometimes what initially felt authentic, didn’t quite feel ‘right’ and then I would hit my knees and ask if I was wrong. Maybe this was a flawed approach. I’ll never know. It seemed to work for me most of the time. But, I ultimately became disaffected with His Church and lost faith (or the desire to have faith) in His existence so maybe it wasn’t working for me at all.
My approach troubled me in one way though. It was not uncommon that choices and decisions that felt authentic and right for me didn’t align with the words of the General Authorities. In those instances, I wondered if I should have been asking permission to proceed at every little step. I mean, if Heavenly Father didn’t expect us to conform, in all cases, to the guidance of the Prophet, why did the Prophet always speak in such absolute terms? Why did the Prophet speak in ways that seemed so all-inclusive/exclusive? Why was I hearing, “If you are a women, this is what is expected…and if you are a man, this is expected…?” Was The Plan of Salvation individualized or prescribed in bulk by gender? (And why was it always by gender?) If the Prophet’s words were to be headed, for he could not lead me astray, then what purpose did personal revelation serve? And, should I be actively asking for personal revelation, bugging Heavenly Father with every nitpicky detail, before proceeding? You see this circling line of thought. You probably recognize it personally.
Sometimes, I wonder if - in a parallel universe in which I didn’t leave the Church - I would ever have arrived at the correct conclusion. I am not sure I know what conclusion others had arrived at, if they had arrived at all. I suspect that the more legalistic, literalistic, and dogmatic types follow the Prophet above all. Perhaps, they never get personal revelation that contradicts the Prophet. Maybe when personal revelation contradicts the Prophet, you aren’t doing it right (FAIL).
If I were forced, I would guess that I would have gone with my gut first, personal revelation second, and if I happened to align with the Prophet’s prescription here and there, that would be good. But, in that case, I have to admit, I would really just have been doing what I ultimately wanted and needed all along.