I certainly don't need to discount or dismiss the "warm and fuzzy" feelings or spiritual experiences that I've heard others describe. I've had them myself. Sometimes I still do. They're just as real as they ever were. But now they just mean something different to me.
As we discussed in a previous thread, the more I studied and observed the different faiths of others, I realized that there was a lot that I couldn't reconcile with the "one true church." I know of some very Mormon-specific spiritual experiences that have occurred in my circle of family and friends, but I also know of some other very faith and denomination-specific spiritual experiences outside of Mormonism. And I can no longer believe that mine are more "true" than theirs.
Recently the missionaries challenged me to read the Book of Mormon. Again. I think they hope that I'll get those feelings and that it will restore my faith in the "one true church." But I tend to take those feelings at face value now. If someone reads the Book of Mormon and gets a good feeling about it, then it means it's a good book with a good message -- divine, even. But if the book is good and even divinely-inspired, does it have to mean that the LDS Church is the only true church on the face of the earth? Does it have to mean that Lehi and Nephi really existed? Does it have to mean that an angel really threatened Joseph Smith with a sword if he didn't marry all those women? Does it have to mean that God really ordered genocide in the Bible? I know that some would see it as a cop-out to say no to all of these things, but maybe it's just unreasonable to say yes.
I think that many fellow Mormons would be hurt or offended by my rejection of some of the things they deem to be literal truths. But maybe we want to invest way too much into our spiritual experiences and feelings -- so much so that they overreach their ability to stand firm in the face of reality and we end up obsessing over their literalness at the expense of focusing on what we're actually supposed to learn from them (i.e. stressing the Book of Mormon as literal and historical, while discussions about its nonviolent message in a very violent world are relatively few).
Maybe our expectations are simply unreasonable.
In a recent Mormon Stories podcast with a woman named Jacque, she talked about Mormonism being her "spiritual language," just like English is her spoken language. As someone who has learned four different languages, this was an analogy that I could really relate to. I've learned through my studies that languages are different. Although one is not really superior to the others, some languages have their strengths. French can be beautiful and poetic, German is very literal and ordered. There are things I can say and express in Norwegian that I simply can't in English. And vice versa. We are missing certain words and expressions in English that are incredibly useful in Norwegian, which I use on a daily basis, that cannot be translated literally into English in a way that will make sense. And vice versa. Isn't religion the same way? We are getting certain things in Mormonism that we simply can't get in other religions. And vice versa. It doesn't make any one religion superior to another, but we cannot practice them all -- just like we can't learn every language. We need to find the one that works for us, use it, but realize that it can be helpful to learn additional "languages" because we may be missing out on certain elements.
So when you hear the spirit, what is it actually saying to you? And what language does it speak?