I’ve been corresponding with a man who came across this blog and found it beneficial, especially the posts about doubting. I just emailed him a talk I gave in my singles’ ward about six months ago. Now I’m thinking, I’ll just share it more broadly. It’s mega long as far as posts go, but you can take a bathroom break midway.
It’s extremely personal, but faith is personal and I prefer to provide an example of someone working through the development of faith.
Welcome into my head and examples of my dating life.:) (As if you weren’t already there.)
Here are links to previous posts about doubting
Doubting and Wrestling
Doubt: Religion's 4 Letter Word
Why I'm Not Disillusioned by Sketchy Scriptures
My Current Explanation of Life's Purpose
I’m just copying and pasting what I wrote for myself to deliver it. I’ll go back and edit it soon. Well, maybe not soon. Maybe sometime.
Talk starts here:
My topic is "A Nation Where the Gospel Can Flourish"
The fullest blessings of the Atonement are only possible through priesthood power. The greatest potential God has in store for us lies in a covenant relationship with Him, which comes through priesthood. I could speak about how the creation of the US Constitution fostered an environment that made possible the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and priesthood. If this was my direction, I'd be sure to note that America was only the cradle for this work. God's purpose was to bring all the world access to the full blessings of the Atonement of His Son.
However, I'm going a different direction. I wanted to share some ideas that you could put into practice when you leave Church today. We're in this nation where the gospel is flourishing, now what? Mormons are starring in politics and on Broadway these days, so people want to know what they believe.
How do you talk about your faith with others who do not share your conviction in the Restoration?
You have GOT to figure out what you will say and how you'll say it. How do you explain why some Christians don't accept Latter-day Saints as Christians? How do you explain the garment? These are recurring questions and there are many more. You need to prepare and prepare well. I'm not going to talk about this either, but I invite you to take the approach of simply educating others about what Latter-day Saints actually believe. For ideas, you can go to my blog about LDS beliefs, mormoninsider.com. As you take this educating approach, you'll help others overcome stereotypes and misconceptions and you'll have more opportunity to share with those who are sincerely searching to know God.
So what AM I going to talk about? I'm going to talk about how I personally cultivate my faith, including how I respond to doubt. I believe as you think more deeply about why it is you believe, you will be better equipped to talk about it with others. I'll also talk about how I seek to recognize the Spirit. Because I think it may be a topic of interest to some of you, I've chosen dating examples to illustrate what I mean by these two topics.
When I saw the Tony performance of "Just Believe" from the Book of Mormon the Musical I was conflicted. It made me laugh and cringe at the same time.
In a June 27 CNN interview, Richard Bushman who is a Mormon Studies scholar at Claremont and the media's go-to faithful Latter-day Saint spokesman said the musical is like "looking in a fun house mirror; the reflection is hilarious, but not really you." I agree with him. What I found most disconcerting was how Elder Price resolves his crisis of faith. He rejects his concerns by repeatedly telling himself to "just believe." From the song:
I allowed my faith to be shaken. What's the matter with me? ...I must be completely devout, I can't have even one shred of doubt...I am a Mormon! And a Mormon just believes.
From the Bushman interview:
Specific doctrines aside, the lines that will most distress Mormons in the Price lyrics are the repeated phrase "just believe."
Poor Elder Price has had his confidence shaken and doesn't know how to react to his dawning disbelief. All he can do is repeat over and over "just believe." To prove himself valiant, he must turn off the lights and shut the door on his doubts.
For me "just believing" meant turning the light on, not turning it off. (end of quote)
This was Elder Price's style of responding to doubts. How do you? Do you have doubts? I do. When I hear people say they don't have any doubts, I wonder if they're thinking deeply about their faith. I suspect they're either not digging deeply enough or they're at a Brother of Jared level of faith. Maybe there are other options.
Yet, God commanded us not to doubt, "Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not" (Doc & Cov 6:36), so what's a girl to do?
Doubt and questioning are different.
Doubt means distrust. Questioning with faith means you trust God or have confidence in Him.
In doubting you reject God until He gives you an answer. By questioning with faith, you trust He will provide , according to His perfect judgment.
Moroni 9:21"...whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him, and this promise is unto all..."
The most oft repeated invitation in the scriptures is "ask" and is almost always coupled with the promise "and ye shall receive."
A faithful Latter-day Saint believes in personal revelation. Instead of not thinking of concerns by putting them out of your mind, I invite you to ask God about them, expecting He will help you understand.
One of the leading purposes of the Restoration was to restore an accurate knowledge of the nature of God, namely He is not an essence everywhere and nowhere without parts or passions, but He is a well involved Father who grieves over His children, as Moses chapter 7 shows us. When we better understand who God is, we can begin to trust Him or have faith in Him.
From the third Lecture on Faith speaking of God's character:
"...unless [we understand the goodness of His character] the faith necessary for salvation could not exist; for doubt would take the place of faith."
So here's the first dating example.
After conference, with its emphasis on marriage, I was frustrated. I think this is part of Church culture and not necessarily how Heavenly Father wants us approach it, but there's this sense that if you're not married in the Church, it's because you're doing something wrong. Once you fix it, then you'll be able to fulfill the commandment of marriage. There's another sense that if you're not married it's because you don't value it or you are playing around or too focused on your career or whatever. (As if a promotion at work could kiss you goodnight.)
It turns out, in order for a marriage to happen there has to be two people where both are willing to develop a relationship and make this sacred commitment together. It's a matter of agency.
After conference, I was reviewing my past dating experiences and wondering if I should have done something differently at one time or another. Because I had this agency focus and because I believe God wants us to gain experience, which often comes through struggles, I felt alone in the process. I began to be resentful toward the Lord that He left me alone when I've always done my best to stay close to Him.
During this time, I was praying to know what I should do with this message of marriage from conference.
Then my brother visited with his 3 yr old daughter. As we were hanging out on the Mall after the Natural History museum, she was all over the place spinning around in circles and pulling up grass, hiding behind trees and my brother was letting her play. When she went too far, he'd chase after her and bring her back close to him. She was then free to choose which activity she wanted to do.
I had the thought, which I believe was from the Spirit, that this how God cares for us. He's not far removed, leaving us alone in our struggles. He lets us choose what we want to do. We can play with the grass or spin around in circles. There are lots of options. But He's always close by, watching attentively, as any good father would. When He sees we are heading in a direction that could be harmful for us, He comes after us.
It is part of the Restoration that God is our Father and is deeply involved in the lives of His children. When Heavenly Father revealed Himself with Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith, He in part was opening the dispensation to restore the knowledge about Him.
As this thought came to me and I made this connection, I realized my worry and frustration came from doubting God's character. I did not trust that He was involved in my life and that He would have stopped me from making a poor choice, even though I have always sought the Spirit.
So I changed my mind to align with what the Spirit brought to my attention. He's well involved and watches attentively over me.
So how I deal with doubt, when I have them?
- I remember past witnesses of the Spirit. Such as the times I have felt and understood by the Spirit that my sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ's Atonement. And the times I've felt that same Spirit through the pages of the Book of Mormon. I remember that Joseph Smith translated that Book of Mormon, which is evidence he was a prophet. And I remember times when the Spirit has witness to me the reality of God as my Father.
- I take this knowledge and put it into practice with faith. In other words I make the decision to trust God.
- I ask for more knowledge by the Spirit with faith.
I invite you to address your doubts with this process.
I must add that after I had this change of mind, which is also known as repentance, I remembered an LDS friend of mine who I greatly admire once told me about a revelation she received. This was when she was single, she's eternally married now. It was after she diligently questioned with faith to receive a time frame of when she would marry. Would it be sooner or more like when she was 40 or 50 or even in the next life? She's fantastic, and I'd say, a hard woman to match. I think she intimidated a lot of men. As she told me about it, I recognized that this personal revelation was how she could have such peace and confidence about marriage and dating, even in a culture that seems hyper occupied with it. She could even have this peace when she didn't have any prospects.
I believed that God would do for me what He had done for her. He's no respecter of persons. I started questioning with faith for myself on the same topic.
My question was different than hers and I received my own answer.
I testify, as I changed my mind from doubting the Lord, to trusting Him asking Him with faith, I received my own revelation on the topic, personalized for me. Responding to doubt with this approach will give you confidence to move forward with faith. God wants to provide this kind of communication to you, so your faith could increase. And this way, you can break up without going to pieces. In addition to being our well involved Heavenly Father, He is able to arrange introductions between people who will use their agency to choose each other.
I invite you to respond to doubt by directing your mind to the true nature of God and asking Him in faith what you should do to receive the desires of your heart.
Further, you have to be willing to act. You can't expect this kind of revelation and help if you want God to do your work for you. As Elder Bednar said in his morningside to us:
"Do not pray as objects,
Tags: "Mormon Church", Are Mormons Christians, faith in Jesus Christ, God is our loving Heavenly Father, mind and heart, mormon cult, Mormonism, repentance through Christ