Friday, April 09, 2010

Faithless, Take Two

Pin It There is this story in the Book of Mormon.

Lehi announces that he's had a vision that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed.  He tells his family, including his sons Laman and Lemuel, that they need to gather a few items and leave their home, to set off into the wilderness immediately.

Laman and Lemuel are the villains of the story.  They follow their father, but they're skeptical. They start off in the story merely questioning and grumbling, and eventually, over time, become more and more rebellious.

I always sort of related to Laman and Lemuel. 

If my father had announced he'd had a vision, that we were leaving our home and going to live in the desert, I would've thought he was nuts too. I understood their reluctance to do all of those hard things based only on faith. 

And it's not as though they didn't GO into the wilderness.  They did.  They went.  They were, at first, outwardly righteous.  They started off doing what they were supposed to be doing.  But it all went to hell later on, because they just didn't have enough faith.

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I was always a fairly skeptical child.  I believed because I'd been brought up to believe, because it was just what we did - we believed.  I had a strong desire to be good, or at least to be THOUGHT OF as good. 

But now and then I would turn to my mom and say How can we think WE'RE right when there are all of those people in China who are just as convinced THEY'RE right?  How can we know for sure?  There's a whole lot more of them than us.

It didn't make sense to me, why God would allow so many people not to know our truth - missionaries or no missionaries.  It didn't make sense to me, statistically, that we would be the ones who were right.  Those people probably had testimonies of their truth too. How could we be sure?

As a kid, sometimes I felt like the stories I heard - from the bible, from the book of mormon, from church history - they seemed almost too fantastic. Somebody walked on water?  Somebody survived in the belly of a whale?  Somebody found golden plates?  Somebody rose from the dead?  An ark?  Really?  If I'd told stories like that, I would've been soundly spanked and sent to bed with no dinner.

Oh, I believed God was there and could see all of the naughty things I was doing, that He was writing them down and OH BOY WAS I GOING TO BE IN TROUBLE.

THAT, I believed.

But sometimes the details gave me pause.  Having a testimony required a suspension of disbelief that was sometimes difficult for me.  The whole cognitive dissonance thing.

Before I got married I was on my way home from a ski trip with The Boy Who Shall Not Be Named and I was pontificating about dinosaurs, and wondering out loud about how on earth could anyone possibly deny the reality of evolution, and he bit my head off, told me to stop focusing on such trivial crap and look at the big picture.  I was wounded, but managed to snap back, I SEE THE BIG PICTURE, but it doesn't make the little pictures invisible you big freak.  I just meant that someday I'll have a lot of questions for God. GOSH.  You're such a JERK.

That was pretty much how I felt, minus the insulting comments.

I had doubts, but I had enough faith to get past them.

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When we lived in Las Vegas, shortly after I started having issues, I was called to be a Relief Society teacher. (Relief Society is the women's organization.)  I will be totally non-humble for a second and tell you that I was a GREAT Relief Society teacher.  I could make people laugh, make them cry, get a good discussion going. 

Every time I gave a lesson crowds of people would come up to me afterward, thank me for the lesson, tell me how strongly they felt the spirit.  That they could feel my testimony.

I would go home even more confused because - how could that be?  If a whole room full of women couldn't distinguish between the spirit and a charismatic speaker, how was I supposed to be able to recognize it?

I went to girl's camp as a teenager, stood up in the testimony meeting we were having around a campfire and gave a cathartic, weeping declaration of faith, then sat down feeling drained and bonded and happy, but another part of my brain thinking, well THAT was a bit much, wasn't it Sue?

Angel on one shoulder, devil on the other.

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The few people I confided in would say, Sue, you just need to have faith.  

I would say, THAT'S THE PROBLEM.  I don't HAVE any.

They would tell me to pray, to read my scriptures, to take it to the Lord.

I would say, I'm doing that, I promise - because I WANT TO BELIEVE.  I WANT ANSWERS. I LIKE being a mormon.  I ROCK at being a mormon.  It's MY WHOLE THING.  I want these doubts to just - go plague someone else.  To get out of my head. I'm doing that and I'm getting NOTHING.

Usually, that's when they would imply that it must be because I was sinning.

After all, God talked to THEM, so clearly, I must be doing it wrong.  Or I wasn't recognizing it. 

But I'd heard His voice before.  I knew what it sounded like.

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One starry night, Laman and Lemuel are beating their brother with a stick and an Angel of the Lord comes down and tells them to knock it off, Or Else.

They forget this lesson approximately 12.2 seconds after they learn it.

People are always perplexed by this story.  How could this be?  If an angel came and told you to stop doing something, wouldn't it make an impression?

If God intervened in your life that directly, how could you ever forget it?  How could you ever deny it?

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When I was twenty-nine, my husband and I had been married for five years.  He was almost done with his degree and attending the police academy, and I was firmly entrenched in a challenging, well-paying job that I absolutely hated.

We had no children. This made us sort of an oddity in the Mormon world.  Nearly thirty and childless in a mormon context is like nearly forty in the rest of the world.  We'd been trying, but my uterus was not cooperating, and when we finally did get pregnant, I had a miscarriage.  My best friend got pregnant right after my miscarriage, and I tried hard to be happy for her, but I was heartbroken.

In the mormon world, teenagers get this thing called a patriarchal blessing. You go see the patriarch for your area and he gives you a special blessing with guidance just for you - specific to your life. They record it for you and give it to you to keep and refer back to throughout your life - kind of like a road map, or (as I rather mystically believed) like a fortune cookie, but from God, and typically more realistic.

I'd never gotten mine. When I was a teenager, I was sure that an invitation to have God speak directly to me would invite him to say things like "YOU FOOLISH GIRL" and "I KNOW WHAT YOU WERE DOING IN THE BATHROOM LAST NIGHT."  It was not something I wanted to deal with.  And then later on, it didn't feel right, so I didn't get it.

But at 29, without children, without a clear path for my life, I felt like maybe it was time.

We showed up there one Sunday morning at the appointed time, and chit-chatted for a minute, awkward small talk between strangers, before going into another room where he laid his hands on my head and pronounced a blessing.

He said the Lord knew the desires of my heart and knew how wounded I felt. He said that I would be a mother.  He said that my husband should give me a blessing of healing.  He told us the specific words my husband should say.  He told me the Lord knew how much I worried and fretted over things I'd done in the past, and that he wanted me to know it was o.k.  He said the Lord knew how hard I'd been on myself, and he wanted me to stop it, that those were no longer my burdens to carry.

And I felt something. Something I'd never felt before (or since).  Not the feeling of being kind of touched, that feeling I typically took to be the spirit (like that feeling you got after you watched a particularly moving Hallmark commercial), but a literal warmth and filling.  A physical weight, pressing down on me, an internal heater set full-blast. 

I sat there, shocked and crying.

Ten months later, Megan was born.

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My husband would say to me, how can you possibly lack faith, knowing how Megan got here?

And I would cry and say, I don't know.  I don't know.  I just have these questions and these doubts and I don't know how to make them go away.  

I figured I took my doubts to the Lord and he didn't send me any kind of reassuring feeling, so it was on HIM.

Right?

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TO BE CONTINUED
(DUN, Dun, dun)  (some more)
(Part Three is here)

SUBSCRIBE

PS:  I hesitate to tell the story of the blessing, because I don't want my infertile friends to be hurt by the story. Because they are vastly more faithful than I am. I don't know why God answered that prayer for me. I only know that He did.

55 comments:

  1. Beautiful and brave. Wish you were our Relief Society teacher. If you brought treats too then that would be great. Thanks.

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  2. Anonymous11:45 AM

    I TOTALLY get this - TOTALLY. Thank you.

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  3. Sometimes I wish I had waited to get my Patriarchal blessing... sometime when I wasn't so sure of myself (wow, that sounds weird, I got mine when I was 14... but I was happy and oblivious all at the same time...)

    Maybe then it would have given me more answers. I really don't know.

    Thanks for posting this second part. Corny as it sounds, I've been watching for it all morning :)

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  4. When is part 3 coming? I've got a birthday party tonight but I'm free all afternoon. Tomorrow I'm really busy so sometime before that would be great. When will it be here? WHEN IS PART 3 COMING?!

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  5. beautiful and so relatable. Thanks for continuing this, I'm looking forward to reading more.

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  6. I love this. I had a very similar conversation with my Mom as a child, Christianity vs Judaism. "Like, Mom? how can they be wrong? It says it RIGHT THERE Mom; They're the CHOSEN PEOPLE. I know I know Jesus and sure but MOM. He said that later! They were chosen first. And he doesn't go back on his word so..."

    Sigh.

    Can't wait to read more.

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  7. This is so great! Everyone really does go through this too, just no one ever talks about it really. I want part 3 already. ha

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  8. And then Josh showed up, completely uninvited. Did no one tell him how this is supposed to work?

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  9. Also, when I teach RS I throw out candy for answers.

    I should do a lesson on bribery and the Spirit. I have no doubt it would get published eventually.

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  10. This past week, as I read your blog, I feel like we are the same person. For realz.

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  11. I am captivated here! You are telling the story of so many people. I'm not really sure which way it's going, but I know I'll learn something. :)

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  12. I have a couple of hours free... can you publish part three please?

    kthxbye.

    ps. heart you!

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  13. Thank you for saying what I have felt for so long. You are very brave and I owe you one!! :)

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  14. Thanks for sharing. For keeping it real.
    Love the story about the patriarchal blessing. I think half the battle in having faith is holding on to those moments and being loyal to them.

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  15. The things that you thought as a child are the EXACT same things that I thought? I wondered how was it possible that out of all the children born into the world, I was born into the "right church." I guess I never really got over that.

    Thanks for this post. It's like my thoughts, only if I could say them cleverly. )

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  16. Yes, yes, yes, yes, amen, amen, uh-huh, uh-huh, totally, I know, yes, yes....

    Anxious for more.

    P.S. Can we hug?

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  17. thank you for taking the time (and having the courage) to publish your story.
    I have had some of the same feelings.
    It especially hits you when you're struggling with something like infertility - I know.

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  18. For the first month or so of my mission I struggled with trying to know what faith was. I was trying so hard to really, really understand faith. I almost made myself crazy trying to "get" it when something clicked. I was making it out to be WAY more than it is. It's Faith! A belief in something without seeing it. You know how the Lord tells us to be like little children... faith/kids/santa claus... it is simple really.
    K, I know I can say that but it doesn't mean it is. I ride the faith/testimony roller coaster too!

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  19. I so completely understand what you're feeling. I intellectualize the crap out of things, and if you want to be a "good Mormon", it's really best not to do that. . .

    but does it stop us?

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  20. It's so interesting to read this! I've always been one of those mormons that has never questioned--I've been given enough faith, and I'm sooo grateful for it. It's something I took for granted most of my life, but recently I have several friends going through a similar situation and all I can think is I'm so glad that I know what I know, without question.

    And I have to say, God cares when I lose my watch. He always helps me find it. I'm serious. Maybe not so much a watch (but my wedding ring! and other things) because he does care about my life, even the mundane things. I don't pray about what shoes to wear with my outfit, but sometimes I do pray about the small things. I think he still cares about what I care about.

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  21. I loved this. And thanks for saying that you were an oddity without child at 29. Finally someone understands what I'm going through... ;)

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  22. Have you ever thought maybe you are more like Sam? We actually don't know that much about him. He was probably skeptical, too, but not in an I'm-so-sick-of-this faith-and-camping-thing-so-I-will-now-attempt-to-murder-my-father-and-siblings kind of way.

    Maybe he was more like, "Alright, Dad, whatever. If you think this is a good idea. And besides, I like Nephi better. Laman and Lemuel are jerks; they never let me tag along with them to the camel races."

    I mean really think about it. Sam probably felt at times like he didn't compare to Nephi AT ALL and probably sometimes wondered why he didn't have the same kinds of experiences that Nephi had.

    "Oh, you had ANOTHER vision. That's nice. God talked to you AGAIN. You don't say..."

    We hear about the extremes of the testimony spectrum and think we should fall into one or the other without even considering the vast range in between. It's kinda like the height and weight percentile scales our babies are measured by. We hear about the 90-100 percenters (those chunkers!) and the 0-15 percenters (oh, sweet fragile things). What about all the Sams and what's-their-bucket-younger-siblings-born-in-the-wilderness in the 16% through 89% range? They're real and their experiences are real.

    Anyway- just a random thought.

    Now, I need ice cream. I get hungry when I get long-typed.

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  23. oh! and one other thing. i wanted to say about your RS lessons: just because you weren't feeling the spirit, or even teaching by the spirit, if you were saying truth, the women in the audience would absolutely feel it. I feel the spirit when I hear truth, whether it comes from the prophet or someone on the street, it doesn't matter.

    (P.S. I know you're just telling us the story, and I PROMISE I'm not judging you, I'm just participating in the convo, that's all. I think you're awesome, and sharing this story takes guts. I like guts.)

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  24. Can't wait for part 3. Now I know why I was drawn to you. Very familiar story.

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  25. I love this for so many reasons. I love hearing/reading the comments, but mostly I love that you're being so open about this. I was born and raised and never really had any need to gain my own testimony because I grew up with enough LDS kids around I had them to pick up my slack. I went to Church, was active and didn't get into too much trouble. When I got married at 19 I knew that I had enough faith to do what I was required by going through the temple, but still, I never exercised my faith much more than was required. Then I was divorced at 21. Since then I've been on the fence. I beleive some things very firmly and others I question. I don't not believe but I struggle. I don't get answers like I feel I should. I know that there's a God because my daughter (a preemie born at 30 weeks) is very much a miracle that shows that He lives and loves and answers prayers. And yet, sometimes I feel forgotten and lost. So I get this. Very much. And I appreciate it.

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  26. Hi...saw you comment on another blog...had to hear more...nice to meet you. :) You can only have faith in truth. What is truth? Have you seen this author's site which is so interesting: http://www.latayne.com/365-reasons

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  27. I know that this is a story about your past and you're not in the situation now but - - -

    Don't forget that even Nephi, the PROPHET, was racked with sorrow at his own sins and weaknesses. It only mentions it once (i think?) in the scriptures, but i'm sure that he felt discouraged on a more frequent basis. Nobody but Christ was perfect. Not the prophets. Not me. Not you. We all have our weak spots. God understands. The awesome thing is - He loves us despite all that.

    I've been having a hard time putting my faith out there on my blog. I feel like it's such an enormous part of me that I can't exactly leave it out of my personal blog - - and if I KNOW it's true (which I do) then why not share it without fear of being ignored or rejected. I don't know. Just putting my thoughts out there.

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  28. Sue, I am very much enjoying this outpouring. I am Mennonite, but as it turns out, I think I may regard the Bible pretty much like you---same questions, theories, etc. I don't think it bothers me like it does you (perhaps because I relate to lots of faithful people who have the same questions, including my mother), and in fact, being raised in a thinking family and being a member of a thinking church, I'm quite accepting, if not proud, of my questions.

    Keep talking, dearie. I'm listening.

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  29. Are we twins separated at birth or something?

    I also hate and fear that whole YW - "lets'-confuse-everyone-about-the-difference-between-feeling-warm&fuzzy-sentimentality-and-actually-feeling-the-spirit" culture. Happily, my daughter is not fooled but I know that soooo many other YW are.

    As far as your blessing story goes - there are so many kinds of miracles we infertile women receive. It is just a lot harder to see & appreciate some of them than others and very few of them come with their own DNA. :/

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  30. Loved your story.
    I think more people like you should teach in RS.
    I'm coming to your blog at the advice of my therapist....no really April and Shelle said I would totally love it and I do.
    Hope you don't mind.
    Tauna

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  31. You know, you mentioned in Part 1 that Courtney (THE lovely Courtney whom we all LOVE, of course) had more guts than you do to post topics about the Gospel on her blog and open them up to comments. But may I say with all due respect to the both of you, 'cause I love ya both, I think you are the braver for being willing to write about struggling with/losing your faith as a lifer Mormon. As you've experienced in the examples you've laid out, it's quite difficult to be truly honest about such a thing for many reasons, but certainly for fear of the reaction for sure.

    Another thing is that I can't tell you how much I see myself if what you're saying. The only difference being that I was not born and bred Mormon, I was a convert a few years back and what a rough few years it's been, let me tell ya! I am at the point of having not attended for a year and a half and am shooing away the missionaries from my doorstep when the new arrivals come knocking. I am at a loss and it has given me such tribulation and heartache that I've just decided to stop. Stop attending, stop reading scripture, and I really am trying my best to stop thinking about it, but of course, I find myself reading LDS blogs daily and watching Gen. Con. regardless. It's so tough.

    So, here's to us and to all who struggle with their faith, or lack thereof. Tis a mighty burden we grapple with, one I believe only we can really understand. I do hope you come to peace, whatever that looks like for you.

    Love to you from a kindred spirit.

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  32. I think there are many more like you, and sometimes me, than otherwise. That is why they have to keep repeating the whole 'endure to the end' thing.

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  33. Let's see if I can explain this right...

    I heard a really interesting lesson in church a few weeks ago about spiritual gifts. They talked about how we're all given certain gifts--discernment, tongues, healing, a really strong testimony. That's a great one, and one that if you're not given at birth, you'll struggle with, like you are. I am grateful because I have that one. But then they talked about what if you have not been given a certain gift? Are you just out of luck? And there was a scripture (I think it was 1 Corinthians 12) that said that some gifts are given at birth but to all people those gifts are available through hard work. Verse 31 says "seek ernestly the best gifts." I think seek ernestly = hard work.

    And I thought about how my mom has this great gift of the desire and abiility to really ponder the Gospel and seek to understand everything. I totally don't have that. I hear the endowment ceremony and I don't care to understand it. I read the scriptures and I have no desire to interpret them. I have no drive to delve into the mysteries of God. This doesn't affect my testimony or my desire to be righteous at all, so I figured it was no loss. And my mom said the same thing that scripture said, only she added that it is not just our right to gain those gifts, but also our obligation to try to gain all the gifts of God. Part of me doesn't even want to. I barely even want to know the questions, let alone want to work hard to get the answers. But it kind of changed my attitude to think that we're commanded to seek out the best gifts. Ernestly even! I guess I've been a slacker.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, there is nothing wrong with you that you don't innately know everything, have tons of faith, have a super strong testimony in all things. That isn't your particular in-born gift. But that gift IS available to you with hard work. And, I'm sure, patience. As much as learning to play the violin, or to sing well, or to skateboard, or whatever requires those hard work and patience. We can be mad that we weren't born being super good at those things like some people were. Or we can accept that, for us, we will have to work hard to gain those talents. How many hours of playing the violin would it take me to get really good? One? Five? 20? Probably hundreds. So if I look at my spiritual gifts the same way, maybe I will have to spend hundreds of hours before I really get good at the gifts I lack.

    Sorry that was so long. I hope I explained it okay.

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  34. Wonderful story, beautifully written. I love your honesty, you allow others to speak their doubts and weakness in your strength to tell the truth.

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  35. What lovely friends you have, to write these things to you. Some of these comments contain such tender and earnest insights. All are loving. You have earned this, writing the things you have.

    I would like to disagree respectfully about a few points. I don't believe that L&L just didn't have enough faith. I believe it was because, rather than faith, their minds were full of themselves. They believed earnestly and passionately in what they wanted. They say, "We could have been at home, enjoying our possessions. We could have been HAPPY."

    Their hearts were anchored firmly in having things, hanging with their peeps, enjoying social savvy. This is what defined them - the structure of the society they loved. Enough faith? Maybe not enough huevos to defy their father, the man who had always controlled the purse strings.

    Nephi - his heart was grounded somewhere else. It was firmly connected to his family. Thus, his father was important to him. And if his father, who he respected - not for the money or the house or the social position he was worth - said he had talked to God, then Nephi had to defy all of his ideas about the limits of reality. Lehi was a solid man, respected by the best men in the community. You don't make the kind of brass he had by being a crazy person.

    So Nephi went, wondering. And pretty much challenged the Lord - "If you said this to my father, then show me, too." Because he was ready to believe it if he saw it. Not as a sign. But because he needed to validate the words of his father, before he could throw his whole heart into cooperation and suspend that disbelief. And he was shown -

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  36. But here is a thing: his faith was in his asking. Belief is in the head. Yeah - you are willing to accept something as true or probably true. Hope is sticking your toe in. Faith is actually defined in action. Not in really, really, really believing really, really hard.

    Nephi asked God. That was his faith. And because it suited God that Nephi should see these things, he was shown. I don't think it was like the Brother of Jared, whose heart was so pure that seeing the finger of God was an utterly natural (if shocking) extension of his total acceptance of God's reality. I don't think Nephi was like that. But perhaps his respect for his father brought him close to that point. At any rate, obviously, Nephi was going to be a huge element in the success of this effort, this plan to provide a corroborating witness to a mass of people thousands of years later.

    Your faith is not in some strong feeling. It's in what you do. Faith, as Joseph said, is a principle of action. It is the process between the belief in your head, and the desire in your heart - and the reaching out your hand to do something. Have you continued on your journey? However desperately? Every step of it has been a testimony of faith. Praying is an act of faith - talking to the sky, the empty air, as if you believe that someone is listening? Whether you do it because you believe you should, or because you have hope that someone will hear, or because you really believe somebody gives a dang - it is faith that puts you on your knees and opens your mouth to speak.

    It is faith that has you going to take dinner to a sick woman's family. Yes, there is that element of doing it so people will see that you are good. But do you see that you know the taking is a GOOD thing, and that you desire to be associated with good? So taking a chance, and investing time and effort to do the good thing is still faith, no matter how alloyed it may be with self-consiousness.

    I know that alloy. There is something inside me that settles down with satisfaction - after I have put my whole heart into leading a hymn in sac. meeting, or being the voice of the congregation in the opening prayer - and it says, "DANG, I'm good." And another part of me that rises in horror and slaps me in the face and says, "You just ruined it, you idiot." And then turns Godwards and says, "I am so sorry that I'm such a jerk."

    But isn't that what life is all about? The fight between the natural man and the spirit? Between our weakness and our good intentions?

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  37. There are so few of us, by the way, in the same way that there is just a tiny bit of yeast put into a huge amount of dough. God knew what he was doing - he chose a time just when the industrial revolution was in swing, when mass communication was actually becoming possible - at the beginning of the shrinking of the planet. He chose the people who belonged to a country that made public education mandatory, so that the children of it would grow into their intelligent power and be able to speak with voices that criss-cross the planet. A rich country that would allow the yeast to take hold, just as sugar does when you are making bread, so that what these people had learned, and practiced - as it cost them everything they had, their comfort, their homes, their very lives -would make a story that would slowly creep out and fill the whole world.

    As it has done. As it is doing.

    Here I will stop and tell you that my daughter dumped her fiance when he finally instructed her that there was no such thing as evolution and that it was an evil concept and she wasn't to believe in it. Pfff. Like there's a Mormon ANYWHERE who knows how the Lord created the earth - what tools and processes he used. Brigham Young said he had no idea how old the world was, surrounded as he was on one side by the religious folks who insisted it was only 6000 years old, and on the other by the scientists he respected deeply, insisting that the number of years was in the millions.

    What's more, he said - HE DIDN'T CARE.

    I think the unnamed boy maybe meant something like that. Or not. Maybe he was just avoiding the question. But certainly, we are instructed to seek out of the best books - and to question and to wonder. But only after we take soup to the sick gal.

    I think we just don't understand the point. And I don't think we understand the love that God has for us. Those words come out so easily that we don't even think about what they mean. But the LOVE - (and what does that mean really??? - Affection? Concern? Does he treasure us, each of us? Really? Is it measured in the effort he invests in teaching each one of us carefully how to be happy - even while we're kicking and screaming and cramming our hands over our ears?) that the God of the universe really feels for us. For you. For me.

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  38. Is it wrong to question everything? I don't think so. Is it good to choose what looks good, what proves itself? Yeah. I think it is.

    And I've written too much, as usual.

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  39. So I'll just share this wee little bit of wisdom that came from a child.(Of course. They are the only wise ones left.)

    I am a convert who joined the church about 11 years ago. I too stuggle with my questions and would get frustrated when my husband would answer "Why do you ask those questions? You'll never have to worry about that..." or some other non-answer.

    About a month ago My mother, (who is not LDS) my two boys and I went to Utah to visit a friend. While we were there we did the whole downtown church tours stuff.

    While we were touring the conference center the guide was asking questions about the scriptures. My 7-year old (who is a little Horshack-ish {Remember 'Welcome Back Kotter'?}) would shout out the "RIGHT" answer every time. The little missionary would beam at him and praise him and he just glowed under all the praise. She'd try to engage my
    9-year old in conversation but he just kind of shrugged and rolled his eyes and would mumble "I don't know."

    Finally, the missionary patted the 7-year old on the head and said "Well I'm glad to see SOMEONE is paying attention in Primary."

    My 9-year old turned around and looked at her and said, "I'd heard that Thomas S. Monson got kicked out of Primary as a young boy and now he's the prophet. Just because my testimony is quiet doesn't mean I'm bad or wrong. It just means I'm quiet."

    I was very proud of him for realizing what we all (including that little old lady missionary) forget. We are all different, we ALL have questions and we all have struggles. Some people just pretend better than most. The rest of us live in reality.

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  40. With the nephi/l+l story:

    I used to read it and think, "wow they both had doubts, they both wondered if Dad was crazy, but nephi followed dad and they didn't. What's the difference between me and l+l?" A few verses later it had my answer, though. Nephi had doubts just like his brothers. But the difference is, he prayed and asked God if what his Dad said was true, and received an answer. The other two didn't bother.

    So I am no scriptorian, but that's what I got out of it. And I think it's fine to question things. God made we humans curious beings. I think there are answers out there.

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  41. It's not weird to question your belief or feel like you're flailing in uncertainty. This is when you have to search and ponder and pray HARD.

    I've gone through a stage like this and it was very difficult.

    Here are blog posts that I wrote on the topic of belief in an effort to preach to myself. Maybe they'll help.

    http://scriptoriumblogorium.blogspot.com/search/label/belief

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  42. I'm scared to read the comments on these posts. I have a headache and I don't want to wince that much.

    As always, I love the honesty and rawness of you. My personal belief is that true conversion passes through stages of doubt and questioning. That the ole refiner's fire isn't meant to be easy and painless and that some of those "strong" testimonies out there are just ones that haven't been tried yet. Also, that we are so dang individual and it really wearies me how so many expect everyone to perceive things in exactly the same way they do or else they label it WRONG. I've done that. I've been that person. But I love too many people who have no faith to see things that way anymore.

    I have no advice. I've struggled too. Despite being raised in the church and having nearly always "acted the part", faith is something I've always had to fight for. I've seen how it seems to come easily to others and in a way I envy them that, but in another way I'm glad my path is as rocky as it is.

    I think many people's are...but few have the courage to admit it. Thanks for these posts, Sue. I look forward to seeing where your journey is carrying you.

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  43. Part 2 sections b, c, d, and portions of f sound like they could have been written by my oldest daughter.

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  44. Still here. Still reading. Still nothing profound to share except...

    don't give up...

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  45. All I can say is...

    ...you are a brave, brave, BRAVE woman to post this. Braver than me, that's for sure.

    You're not alone in your faith struggles.

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  46. I love this. It is everything I have felt. You're very brave for sharing. Thank you.

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  47. I was going to wait until you had finished your story to comment - but you apparently have something else to do in you life other than blogging:)
    I had to give the lesson this month for VT and was trying to prepare about personal revelation. All I could think of was your blog and how if perhaps you had finished your story - I would know better what to say to my visitees. I too struggle with this. I really struggle when I have to teach my children about it because I'm just not sure. And then I blame myself because my kids struggle - like maybe if I was stronger they could be too. Oh well - I guess that's what parenting is. Constantly questioning if your doing a good enough job.
    Anyway - I love your blog and am anxiously awaiting a conclusion to your story.
    And if my vote counts - please tell the story of the blessing.

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  48. I enjoyed reading this because of its honesty and also because it causes me to think of interesting questions like:
    How important is choice in faith or belief?
    Are we blessed by what we choose or what we think? Which influences the other the most (or is most effective?)
    How specific do we feel the Spirit?
    Can we be lead by the Spirit without realizing it?
    Why does this happen?
    Why don't we always hear a voice or feel something profound?
    Is this process part of working out our salvation?
    Is the "working it out" considering all sides, even the possibilities we don't want to consider?
    Has anyone (besides Christ) ever not had to lay one thing or another to the side to "resolve" later?
    What is this process like for others? For me?

    Thought-provoking post!

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  49. I waited a loonnnggg time before coming back to read the next installment of this story AND I STILL am hanging on the edge of the cliff. No problem. Take your time.

    I am so...filled (not sure of the word I need here) by your post and by the comments. Really stirs my heart. All of it. What a lovely community you have gathered here. I look forward to more of this association.

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  50. After this post- I'm officially addicted to your blog.

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  51. P.S. I want to be your friend. Can I be on your blogroll?

    K, that was hard for me, thanks.

    Gwen

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  52. It is comforting to know that others have similiar concerns. I struggle to know why my child has to suffer and struggle after being born healthy. After his stroke my faith was so strong and complete and it seems that each month that passes since his stroke I have struggled more and more. Thank you for sharing your story I can't wait to read the rest.

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  53. Anonymous9:33 PM

    its like you are reading the deep depths of my mind and putting it on paper. please post part 3 soon.....

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  54. I think you are so stinking amazing- putting the rest of us and our mediocrity to shame, that this one thing is your hard thing. It wouldn't be fair if you had it all. Kind of like Job- God finally said 'ok ok you can test him- but he rocks so I'm not worried'- same thing for you I think.

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  55. I loved reading these two posts. Honestly, I wish more people doubted, or at least spoke them out loud. I just see it as a step along the way. If you never question, how can you ever have REAL faith? Oh, and I have a whole lot more to say about Laman and Lemuel. But it will have to wait because I should be planning a birthday party that is happening in like 30 hours or so (not good at math.) Nothing is ready and it might be rainy or snowy and my basement looks like a shed right now, and the twins invited 38 kids. So this is my escape from reality. I hopped over and read these posts a few weeks ago and couldn't even take time to respond, I was probably also avoiding something urgent like taking my kids to school and I thought, I will have to get back and respond someday. I keep missing the meetings! Maybe next time.

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