"I know that this Church is true."
Said so often, it's in danger of losing its power, its meaning - but I'm not here to question testimonies, though some may see it that way today.
Again, I repeat: I am not here to question testimonies.
Mine has come into question by some individuals (who don't necessarily comment here...that I know of at least), and I wouldn't dare step on that toe. It's not within my authority. I don't know the whole the encompasses any individual person. It's just not my place.
I do want to talk about faith today, though.
I've had at least one commenter express some offense that I might even think to question her faith because it may or may not be "blind." I never said that. I said while some blind faith may be good, it is not good all of the time. I do think even the Prophet would agree with me on that. We would not be told to pray about various things (this includes things that our Bishop asks of us, etc.) for ourselves if blind faith was always great. We'd be told to counsel with our leaders on every meaningful decision. Our leaders just don't have the time for it. We're taught what we're taught, and when there is question, we study, think it out, and pray.
But back to my introductory line.
There's been some talk about faith. It's understandable that some do not want to allow anything to have even the chance to shake it. I get that. I was there too, and in some ways and in some things I still *am* there.
Let me ask you all one question, though: What is faith if it can be shaken?
Don't read things if you're afraid it might shake your faith. Again, I get that, and again, I'm there with some things. I'm not drooling over the idea, either. But for various reasons and experiences I've had in my life, I did decide to read things such as Rough Stone Rolling among other, non-anti-Mormon media. Again: NON anti-Mormon media.
I've had thoughts and feelings tucked away in the back of my mind and heart for some years now. I didn't want to give them much credence because I feared what they meant and what they would bring, but eventually I had to look at them.
One thing I've learned over the course of many years, a lesson I've been taught repeatedly as if God Himself was knocking me upside the head is this:
The higher a pedestal you place something or someone on, the further and the harder they will fall - the more your world will crumble around you.
Through years of demonstrating this to me through various friendships I've had, God finally tripped me up good with a non-religious experience in my life. What I learned is that no one is perfect, that it is possible to know the whole story and still have faith, if not knowledge, in someone or something. It's a large part of what the principle of forgiveness is based on. We can peer into the dark closets of someone or something and still know they are good.
The church has some skeletons, just like any other church or any other person. To suggest it is perfect is wrong. The Gospel is perfect - not the Church. The people who attempt with their best efforts to follow it are not. That includes Joseph Smith and Brigham Young - even President Monson. You.
They are people, too. To give them the title of infallible would be far too much burden for them to ever accept themselves.
While I understand and don't find fault or anything weak in those who don't want to or don't care to look inside the darker closets of the Church, I want those people to know you can't possibly decide that I or any other person engaging in this process is wrong or right. It's a frightening journey, but one I and those like me feel compelled to embark on. I appreciate the concerns of friends and family, but please take solace in that truth always prevails. I want to hear what you have to say, but I want to be heard, too. I feel too often only some of my words are being heard.
Just remember: if your faith is such that you fear it could be shaken, then it is not knowledge. Even with knowledge, it takes strength (and dare I say the ability to think critically), to protect yourself from straying. There are very compelling arguments for every side of everything, and so you must know for yourself.
To think it would never happen to us or those we revere and love is to deceive ourselves. It's also a fabulous way to ensure we will be tempted at some point in our lives. Again, the pedestal. Keep it low. Keep it within reach. Give it a chance to have flaws, because it does.
We all, no matter who we are or our experiences, have the danger of apostasy (or just rejecting the church - I do think the two are separate) lurking in the shadows. The road those of us who decide to take when we read revealing books such as Rough Stone Rolling may have the deeper danger, but if this is truly the truth, then there is nothing for to fear.
All of that good stuff: prayer, church attendance, etc., is good insurance but sometimes we come upon things unwittingly that challenges everything we've grown to know. I remember saying to some very close friends of mine that I couldn't fathom ever leaving the Church. Now that I absolutely think it could happen, I can do what I can to ensure I wouldn't do it out of offense or spite, or just lack of knowledge. I can protect my testimony, but protecting one's testimony is not found in burying one's head in the sand or pretending the doubts don't exist. They have a way of rearing their ugly little heads later. If you ignore them, they will not go away.
Doubt and even a fall is nothing we can't recover from, but at some point we need to accept nobody is immune. It can and even probably will happen to everyone to some degree.
Adversity in any form can and will shake faith, but it can also strengthen it. I'm willing to chance it. Ignoring my questions and doubts and fears has not worked, so I've chosen to confront them. Despite the inevitable questioning of my very motives and my testimony, I've chosen to embrace the political and spiritual viewpoints I feel are true - many of which, if you look, the Church itself embraces. So far, they've only served to strengthen my faith.
Call it what you might, suggest I am placing one foot in the world and the other in the Church, I know what I am doing; God knows what I am doing - and that, everyone, is all that matters.
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