BYU English Professor Matthew Wickman Speaks on Thriving Spiritually at Weekly Devotional

Matthew Wickman, professor of English and founding director of the Humanities Center, advised students to rely on the Spirit at BYU’s weekly devotional. 

PROVO, Utah (Dec. 1, 2020)—Matthew Wickman, BYU professor of English and founding director of the Humanities Center, spoke on how to thrive spiritually during difficult times at Tuesday’s campus devotional. 

He asked students, “What does ‘spiritual thriving’ mean to you? How would you say you’re doing?” These are questions that Wickman has asked both himself and his students many times as he has studied spirituality in life and in literature. 

Wickman explained, “We survive, and even thrive, spiritually to the extent that we habitually seek and enjoy spiritual experiences that we invite treasure and learn from the Spirit of God.” He continued, “Spiritual experiences fill us with hope and purpose, wisdom and understanding, they motivate and console. Over time, their effect is transformative helping us become greater more fully realized versions of ourselves.” 

Through sharing personal experiences with his family, friends, and students, Wickman illustrated that we can access spiritual guidance in our lives by using our unique spiritual gifts.  

“Spiritual gifts are precious because they are traces in us of our divine nature, aspects of ourselves in which we more fully reflect our Heavenly Parents. . . . I’ve seen before how drawing on these unique gifts can bring us closer to God, perhaps because they call on parts of ourselves, that are closer to God already.” 

When seeking the Spirit as our guide seems daunting, Wickman suggested to view the Spirit as “a creative partner, who can help us fashion better ways to live and be. For every occasion when the Spirit helps us narrow our choices, there are many others when the Spirit assists us in multiplying them.” 

As he concluded his address, Wickman provided his personal answers to the questions he posed at the beginning of the devotional: “What does ‘spiritual thriving’ mean to me? Very simply, it means seeking, recognizing, and enjoying experiences with the Spirit of God. It means being mindful of the breadth of ways the spirit moves us, and then being responsive to its inspiration, perhaps by drawing on our unique spiritual gifts, and perhaps by learning to perceive God’s presence, even when we’re preoccupied with other concerns.” 

—Heather Bergeson (English ’21)