HOW I Stick with My Faith

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I know I promised this post sooner (read this post first), and I apologize for the delay!  This is a lot for me to think through and then write up.  If you're new here, I recommend starting with my first post on this topic, here.


Without further ado, here is the HOW I stick with my faith.  This means the actual things I DO and the ways I FRAME my actions that help me stick to my commitment to the LDS faith. (Again, the WHY is here, including my big disclaimer.)


1. KEEP THE STANDARDS: I believe that God functions through laws; if I want to be entitled to His Spirit so I can discern between right and wrong (and that includes right and wrong within my faith), then I need to be obeying the laws.  Even if I don't "know-know" about all the rules/laws I keep as a Latter-day Saint, I figure that I'm not any worse off personally to keep the commitments I've made.

2. SEEK GOD: The same reasoning applies here as in #1. I still keep up my daily prayer, scripture/conference talk/manuals/church magazines study, as well as LDS books like The Infinite Atonement, Believing Christ, Jesus the Christ, etc.

  • But in addition I have found it especially helpful to read books on my religion and history that combine the intellectual AND the spiritual.  They help me work through my doubts and learn without fear.  My recommendations: Crucible of Doubt (I'd read this before anything else.  The main thesis: doubt is apart of true faith); Navigating the Mormon Health Crisis (A human development expert sees faith through this developmental lens--both fascinating and helpful); The Eternal Ghost of Eternal Polygamy (I especially loved how this author could pair her knowledge with the messy parts of LDS history, but still love and honor it;  Also, the message that it's OK to know our history!);  And here are some books I'm in the middle of reading that I'd also recommend: When Mormons Doubt, Weakness is Not a Sin, A God Who Weeps
  • There are SO many ways to seek God.  I have found myself the closest to feeling the Spirit when I'm either sweating hard in the mountains, or listening to (or even making) music.  In fact, I need to write a whole post on the Lamb of God alone--that soundtrack changed my life.  What works for YOU?  Music? Nature? Exercising?  Meditating?  Serving others?  Painting?  Time with family? Creating? In order to feel God, you must understand that there are MANY ways to do so--explore them!  

3. BE CAREFUL ON THE INTERNET: It's very very easy to get sucked in to all the Internet has to say on the LDS faith and its history.  I am all for searching for truth and I think that is an important part of true, deeper commitment.  However, I find these internet wormholes are most often far from helpful, especially if the authors tend to carry a vindictive sentiment (although this is not always the case).  I'm not saying that you can't study, that you should be scared of learning.  But I am saying that it's a good idea to be extra careful about the source, as well as your own state of mind while you are searching (and the latter thing there can be the most important, in my experience).

  • I personally am a big fan of Fair Mormon, and I do indeed find it to be very fair.  These really are my people, I feel.  Additionally, the Rational Faiths website and podcast are awesome, and I also have listened to a few of the Mormon Matters podcast.  I have listened to maybe three episodes from the Mormon Stories podcast, but honestly, I just tend to weed out most of what is offered there, more because of my own state of mind.  I have listened to the ones that I felt I could relate to and where I feel like it wasn't a one-sided discussion.  I know what I'm comfortable with because I've already made my choice; so do what's truly best for you!  But just know, I think it is essential to be careful about what you read and know your source and your source's intentions. 

4. LOOK FOR REASONS TO STAY: This is not me promoting blind faith, I promise.  I believe that you CAN have doubts, questions, and criticisms of the Church and its history.  I do!  But I also think that you can find the good in it, and that that good can be reason enough to stick around.  And for me, there is so much good!  This can entail me looking for the good in anything from my spiritual study, my prayers, to listening to talks at church and attending the temple.  I can search for truth AND use a healthy dose of compassion. There was a very painful time where I only seemed to be surrounded by evidence that this church was driving me insane and that I was an outsider; but I don't feel that way now.  It's easier for me to see the positives in it, and that came with time.


5. MAKE PEACE (!!!!): In order to stay in the church, you first have to know your "why."  Figure that out!  And after that, you have to make peace with some things.  Here are the biggest things I've made peace with, and where the majority of this post will be spent:

  • BELIEVING is Just as Acceptable as KNOWING: Do I "know" the church is true? Nope.  Do I believe?  I do my best to believe. And honestly, I think that my choice to BELIEVE is 100% acceptable before God.  That has not always been then case for me, but it's what I feel good about now.  
    • But how do I get through those temple recommend interviews?  With honesty.  The closest I've come to feeling the Spirit the past ten years was while renewing my recommend a year ago.  I was able to really talk to my leaders and I left feeling that they truly knew my heart, that I was not a counterfeit, that my faith was acceptable.  All the leaders I have had the past ten years have found that my answers are sufficient to enter the temple.  And to many of those interview questions the answer is, "I don't know, but I want to." 
    • I know that I am lucky this way and that many people have experienced the opposite of me.  But maybe that's a lesson to our leaders--if you can really look at the people's hearts who are arriving for their recommends, then you know whether they WANT to be in the temple.  If so, then they are seeking to learn.  And what place is better to learn than in the temple? 
    • One of the best scriptures on this topic (and actually one that a leader used as we discussed renewing my recommend): "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of fight, yea, even if you can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a matter that ye can give place for a portion of my words."  Alma 32: 27 (I recommend reading this entire chapter.)  If even the desire to believe is good enough for God, it's good enough for you.  
  • Living with Doubt: The Crucible of Doubt book I referenced did wonders in helping me make sense of this.  Having a healthy faith means you also have a healthy amount of doubt. The perfectionist in me did NOT like the gray--any of it.  Even having a hint of a doubt in my mind meant that I was instantly going down the path to apostasy.  THIS IS FLAWED THINKING.  True faith goes hand in hand with doubts.  If you study theology and theological giants, they were often riddled with doubts, many in complete torment over it for many years.  Even Mother Theresa felt that God had abandoned her for almost 70 years of her life.  If you're doubting, then welcome to the club.
  • Pressure to Align:  There is a lot of pressure--both inside the LDS Church and outside it--to choose your "group," if you will.  Are you going to be a Progressive Mormon?  A dyed-in-the-wool, true-through-and-through Mormon?  Are  you going to be a never-doubt-or-speak-against-the-church Mormon? Are you going to be a better enlightened and leave the faith Mormon? A spiritualist, but not religious?  A full-grown intellect?  An atheist?  An anti-Mormon?  
    • There's a lot of pressure to choose the group you "fit" into and subscribe their own set of doctrine and viewpoints, hook line and sinker.  When I felt like I no longer aligned to my goody two-shoes Mormon identity (because of my doubts and my own beliefs), I immediately felt pressured to choose "my group."  But you know what?  I decided to forget that pressure.  I CAN be an intellectual, open-minded, faithful, devoted, and happy Mormon.  I can believe in knowing my Church history and asking questions, but that doesn't mean I have to carry a harsh skeptical eye to all things in my church, nor does it mean that in choosing to be careful of what I ingest shows that I am a "blind follower."  
    • I am ME.  I am not anyone else.  I'm not going to allow people to push me to choose.  I know that I am faithful.  I know that I have questions, criticisms, and frustrations.  I don't need to align with a group--both in and out of the Church--to be of value.  
  • The Seeming Unfairness of God's Involvement in Our Lives: LDS members believe that God is intimately involved in our lives.  I grew up believing this.  But as an adult--and one whom has felt that the heavens are closed no matter how carefully I seek for the Spirit's influence--I have really struggled seeing how some people can SO easily recognize God's involvement in the minutia of their lives, while others are left in the dark.  
    • One memorable sacrament meeting for me entailed a sister bearing her testimony that she knows God exists because He once spoke to her and helped her when she was lost and couldn't find the airport.  While that was a sweet story, I only felt anger.  "How could God answer her dumb prayer to know which exit to take, while He won't even answer my decade-long pleadings to even know if He exists?"  I was feeling very frustrated; gipped, even. (See here.)
    • I don't know why God seems to be involved in varying levels in our lives.  But you know what?  I've made peace (mostly) that this will look different for everyone.  Perhaps my greatest test this life is whether or not I'll be true even when the Spirit is withheld from me?  Or perhaps my greatest test is my own blockage of that Spirit?  Who knows.  But I at least know that I'm going to allow other people to have their "airport stories," to be happy for them, and to look for my own.
  • God is the Head of the Church, Through His Leaders on Earth: This line of thinking is either the reason people STAY with the Church ("That's God's leader speaking--He wouldn't let Him lead us astray!"), or Leave the Church ("If that's God's voice, then this is all a mistake.")  This is how I view it:
    • God is the head, but He works through weak vessels.  (Look to the Old Testament especially for maaaaaaaany examples of this--we were allowed to show our prophet's weaknesses then, somehow.) He does the best He can, but He honors agency so much that He allows misdirections and mistakes to happen within the Church, because in the long run He will fix them.  
    • Our leaders are doing the best they can.  They are inspired in what they do, but yes, they do make mistakes.  Because they are human! Pride, narcissism, and power-seeking can get in the way of God's real will.  Not every call is or was the right one.  
    • For some Mormons, this view is dangerous.  For me, thinking this way has freed up SO much of my turmoil.  I can hum in my mind whenever a general conference address goes a weird direction ("Ponderizing," I'm looking at you!), but I can also fully accept those beautiful moments where leaders share their true hearts (Elder Nelson and Sister Marriott from the last two general conferences were wonderful, in this regard).  That means I can ignore a lot of the missteps our church culture has taken and chalk it up to human frailty.  (Before you criticize this line of thinking, just remember that people who used to question blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, and Joseph Smith's use of a steer stone were looked at with the side eye.  The Church is doing better at owning up to our mistakes from the past and I find that encouraging!)
    • This lines up with the biggest tenants of the Mormon faith: personal revelation.  When I listen, I listen with an open heart; but I also do my best to discern what rings as true, right, and good in my own heart.  I don't HAVE to accept what my leaders say at the end of the day; but if I have done my part to understand what they've said and if it is God's will in my mind too, then I can do just that.  
  • "Put It On a Shelf": If you're not LDS, you're going to be really confused by that statement.  In our faith, if someone has some nagging issues, things that make them question/doubt or that they want fuller answers to, they are often met with the advice to "put it on the shelf," meaning to place those worries/doubts/questions on the shelf and keep going.  Sometimes, this thinking makes me angry.  How else would President Spencer W. Kimball have ever finally received revelation on blacks and the priesthood if he had put his own questions and worries "on the shelf?"  In my mind, he could not have. Those questions nagged at him for decades of his life--and I'm sure that many times he was instructed by well-meaning members to simply not worry about his concerns, to "have faith."
    • Here's what I think about a question/doubt/concern: Don't "put it on a shelf," but make it your friend!  Accepting that there are things we will NEVER have answers to this life, doesn't mean that you can't still keep coming back to them or carry them in your heart.  They don't have to haunt you, but they can drive you to seek for answers, to study, and to be worthy of revelation from God.  They don't have to be a whip, but they can be a poker--nudging you to find God more fully than before.
    • I know that many people mean "make it your friend" when they say, "put it on a shelf."  But I do think that there is an underlying message too often for people to basically let go of important questions that can someday lead to transformative revelations for the entire Church.  For me, I certainly hope that my leaders haven't put their questions on the shelf. Things like homosexuality as a "trial," women and the priesthood, eternal polygamy, and more are things I hope are continually on their minds.  If we want to increase in our knowledge, we have to have questions!  
  • The Biggest Bet of My Life: Underlying ALL of this is the biggest bet of my life that I have made: that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's church.  It might not be fully "true" here on this fallen earth with fallen people as its members and leaders, but it WILL BE.  
    • The thing I've had to make the most peace with?  The flip side of this.  The Church isn't "true."  You know what?  I'm fine with that possibility.  Truly.  If I get to the other side and an angel tells me, "Oh, a Mormon!  How fun!  Well, go pray to that Hindu God over there, because that's who really is in charge.  But, you did a good job!"  I'll be A-OK with that.  I will have lived a good life; I will have done my best with what I best understood; I will have no regrets.

Well, there you have it!  Another novel-length post for you.  Did you make it to the end?  If so--or if not!--what are your thoughts?  As always, I ask for compassion for both me and whoever comments.  I hope to hear from you!



(Disclaimer: I used affiliated links for the books I listed on Amazon.  That means this is NOT sponsored, but I do get a few cents for every dollar spent when people purchase via those links.  It'll help my podcast keep running, as every single cent currently comes out of my own pocket.  Thank you!)

20 comments:

  1. Monica, your blog is such a breath of fresh air! This topic hits close to home for me-- I feel like we are kindred spirits... rule followers, yet thinkers and questioners at the same time. I'm lucky to have grown up in a family where questions and the search for truth were never shied away from. It's definitely not the easiest road, and I've gained a deeper compassion for those who may feel like outsiders. My dad had the following article published in dialogue magazine a few years ago. Parts of it have been such an anchor for me as I've navigated some of the complexities of life and the gospel. I think you'd enjoy it as well. It talks a lot about perfection, progression, and agency. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Keep up the good work ❤

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/qafmgn7o95j3084/1917?dl=0

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    1. I'm not sure if the link worked (I'm technologically challenged :), but you can also just Google... Dialogue: Why the true church cannot be perfect

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    2. Tricia, not only have I read your dad's article, I've shared it with about everyone I possibly can. He is amazing and I hope you can pass along my gratitude to him for writing it. I had NO idea that you and I were so similar in this regard, and it gives me a lot of hope. Thank you so much for reaching out--you really did make a difference in my life.

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  2. Thanks for sharing, Monica. As far as "put in on the shelf": the ym/yw had a John bytheway fireside in our stake a bit ago where he compared the gospel to a puzzle. If we find a piece that doesn't fit, do we throw the whole puzzle away? No! We put the piece in the "doesn't fit yet" pile and keep working on it. Anyway, I like thinking about it that way -- you keep working on your testimony and hope to find a spot for the piece eventually. Thank you for bringing up these topics!

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    1. I didn't realize I'm logged into my other Google account, but this is Kaitlin Neville Julander. FYI :)

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    2. Kaitlin! I love the internet because it is allowing us to still be friends across the distance. I LOVE that puzzle analogy. I can't remember if I wrote this already or not, but another good puzzle analogy is that the Church has one piece to a million piece jigsaw puzzle, and we've built everything off of that one piece. It'll all come together one day, and in the meantime, God is happy with how hard we've tried. Thank you for commenting on this post, as well as my other various Facebook tirades that I always wonder what I was thinking getting myself into....

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  3. Hello, Monica. We have several mutual Facebook friends, which is how I came across this blog post, and also read the 2 preceding posts. (I think we may have been in the same ward on condo row at BYU?) I don't have any specific comments, mostly because I struggle a lot with being able to articulate any of my thoughts and feelings on my issues with the Church (case in point: "my issues with the Church" being the best way I can describe it), but I wanted to let you know that lots of things you wrote really spoke to me; I really appreciate the time, effort, and openness it probably took to write these posts; I'm so glad you shared your thoughts; and I found these posts to be incredibly well-articulated and explained - especially considering how overwhelming and complicated this topic is. So thank you!! I'm looking forward to exploring your blog more.

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    1. Hi Samantha--and what a small world!!! It made my day to read your comment. Isn't it wonderful to know that we are not alone? I am just proud of you for making it through this very long post. If you ever want to chat, send me an email--you can find it on my contact page.

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  4. Just, awesome. Loved every word. Sometimes I get frustrated that I can't seem to hold onto the joy or inspiration I feel. And then I realized that's why we're asked to study and live the gospel everyday. To give us our daily spiritual bread, that will wither within our broken vessels and force us to seek out more bread. And then I realized the wisdom in this because if learning one gospel principle made us permanently happy or wise, we might not feel the urgency to go seek out more. So really, the struggle is what forces us to learn so much. You have been forced to struggle, Monica. And I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how much you have learned. And now taught.
    Also, suffering allows us to have empathy is a deep way. And allows us to carry other people's burdens and ease suffering in a way that no amount of unknowing/unfeeling sympathy ever could. Because we've been there, we know much it hurts, and we'd do anything to help others not have to suffer (side note: sounds a little like the atonement right--so really suffering can make us more Christlike--if we turn to Him in our suffering). So here's my theory on why God would allow you to feel so little of his spirit:
    What a trial. What an awful, horrendous thing to endure. Even the Savior only had the spirit withdrawn from him for a time. But oh man, monica. What a healer and guide you have become to those who are experiencing doubt. You may feel like you're just trying to figure it out for yourself but the way you seek to share your knowledge with the world shows your desire to shepherd people back to God. So why would God do this to you? Because he knew you could handle it. Because you are so awesome. If he had withheld his Spirit from someone else, they might've said "forget this" and helped no one. But my theory is that God knows you. And how valiant you are. And how you will continue to seek him, no matter how little you get back. And as you travel that painful and lovely road, you will gain experience and empathy for others that you could not have gained in any other way. So I look at you, Monica, in complete and total awe of who you are, what you have done, and what an inspiration you have been and continue to be. Continue to be true to yourself and how you feel. Because you are a visionary. And will bring so much goodness into our church with all you learn. I agree with every single thing you said. So thank you for putting it into words. Because you know I'll be sharing this post like crazy. And it will bless so many people's lives. So thank you for going through what you've been through so we could all benefit from what you've learned. So grateful you created this blog.

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    1. Also, I feel like I should clarify: I think you are full of the spirit. Way more than many people. Because decernment and learning are fruits of the spirit and you have that in spades. I assume you mean "feel the spirit" in the more bodily "warm-fuzzy" sense. I didn't want you to think I meant that I don't think you have the spirit. Because I do. When I was kid, I remember learning that people feel the spirit differently. When asked to describe how I felt the spirit, I described feeling a clarity of mind. But nonetheless, I consider that lack of warm-fuzziness to be a real trial. Which is why you're so amazing.

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    2. I totally understood what you were saying there; in fact, it really helped me a lot, Lisa! If I frame the spirit working that way with me, then it enables me to better listen to that mind of mine. I think a lot of my angst has come from trying to refuse my own brain and thinking... It's just crazy to me how differently the Spirit works for each of us, and also how each of our road is different in learning the intricacies of that relationship. I imagine it'll take me a longer time than most, but I'm not giving up! You were too kind in your esteem of why this might be the case for me, but I'm just going to take it and run with it. I love you, Lisa!

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  5. I've been listening to your pod cast for a few months now, and just today i've been reading your blog. Everything i've read and listened to has resonated with me so much! Especially your past with anxiety, your feelings and thoughts about your faith, ect.. I too struggle to feel the spirit. Or maybe I feel it differently.... I dont know, but im curious to know how you feel the sprirt? or if you dont, how you've come to peace with that?
    I feel like you and I would have some great conversations!
    Thank you for being brave and putting it out there.
    ~A friend in Utah~

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    1. Cassie--it means SO much to me that you not only read this crazy post but have also listened to my podcast. You might be one of ten people, ha! You should see the above comment with Lisa, but generally I really struggle understanding how the Spirit communicates with me. In fact, that's one of the reasons I felt like I had to leave the Church because I wasn't getting any spiritual help or guidance when I needed it the most. You can see my first post on that, that I linked to. I do think that I might just be one of those literal people who God works with intellectually... Who knows! It's worth it for me to keep trying. And I have heard a lot that anxiety/depression can inhibit the Spirit--which if I'm being honest seems awfully unfair, but also right. My "peace" has come through my decision to stick with my faith. Honestly, I know it's not that simple for everyone, but making that decision has freed up a lot of the worry and turmoil I feel over getting Spiritual guidance. I'm just doing the best I can, and I feel much better knowing that that is good enough! You can always email me if you want to chat some more, and you can find my email address on the contact page. I'm sorry it's taken me some time to write back--I was feeling a little overwhelmed after my "overshare" and had to take a break...

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  6. Dear Monica, I have avoided reading your most recent blog-post until today because it references something I, too, struggle with regularly. To be honest, I think there are a lot of people who do as well. Recently I lost two friends to unexpected deaths and I have struggled to deal with my feelings. Reading your post was most comforting and I sincerely thank you for sharing it.

    I don't question my faith. It is like a warm, tender hug that encompasses me with almost physical manifestation. My personal struggle is with people who claim to share my beliefs and then treat others with arrogance, entitlement and disrespect within those shared expectations. A dear, not-that-elderly neighbor who seemed to have few friends and wouldn't let but a few of us into her home, passed away in her sleep last week after having recently shared with me how she never got over being publically embarrassed in church many years ago. It seems the ward Relief Society President at that time berated her in front of a class of young women for wearing a Spring hat to sacrament meeting. The woman felt hats were inappropriate at church meetings and should be (and this is a quote)left to "Black Baptist Women of the South!" She had not been back to church since. She died peacefully in her sleep at a time when I was feeling she was open to emotional healing. Even more difficult for me was the passing of my dear personal friend and Davis High colleague, Miss Corine Sayler (former assistant-principal). Across the years of her administrative service to the Davis School District, she tried multiple times to advance up the administrative ladder (which in the Davis School District was, until recently, an almost totally male-dominated agenda.) I wrote several letters of recommendation in her behalf, but her efforts were mostly ignored by her male colleagues and supervisors who were greatly intimidated by her leadership abilities. She was unceremoniously shipped from school to school, and over-looked for promotions time and time again until she finally retired and accepted a position in the private sector that offered her the respect and salary she deserved. Just as she finally seemed to be content in her position in life, her health turned against her in the form of congenital heart disease and late-onset diabetes. She died just a year younger than I am. It took every ounce of self-discipline I had to keep quiet at her memorial services as those male counterparts - priesthood holding church leaders ALL - expressed their grief over her loss and the end of her respected contributions to the educational world they shared! I struggle daily with mean-ness, lack of respect, and dishonest by those who claim to be faithful, God-loving people.

    Having said that, I do treasure how I feel when I leave the Temple after playing the organ for multiple sessions. I almost always walk with a skip when I exit the hospitals where I volunteer playing the piano. I am so pleased when the 14 year old young man who is one of my home teachers, but who attends a private school program instead of the neighboring public schools like the other boys in the ward, INSISTS on a hug when he leaves after each visit to my home. I feel that warm hug of faith after reading your post. You made a difference in my life today. Love you, Mon. -Dave

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    1. Dave, you made me cry--per usual! Those stories--wow. That's enough to push anyone out and those are the things that make me pull my hair out in frustration. That being said, it's HUGELY comforting to know that my pillar of a man--you--feel those feelings, but also the comfort of your faith. That keeps me going. That also keeps me hopeful that in time our Church culture can change where true goodness is manifested and our thoughts/actions are better aligned with our beliefs. I wish I could have a hug right now, but I'll settle for an electronic one. Thank you, dear Dave!

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  7. Thank you for letting us be part of your journey, Monica. I think we modern women need to be more open with discussions like this. Especially ones where we express our doubts and questions. I wrote a similar piece to this years ago when I was facing a season of doubt and figuring out my place in the church. It was helpful to focus on the why's of staying than the doubts and the "what ifs" of leaving, although I feel it's important to explore those too. I have a hard time adopting the "Stay in the church because it's a good lifestyle, even if it's not true" mentality, because, man. I don't know if the garments and the callings and the pressure to progress are worth hanging in there for something that may be good but not any truer than the other good religions out there. If that's the case, I'd rather do my own thing or join a less demanding church community. I'm not criticizing your way of thinking and the conclusions you've arrived at, I'm just thinking aloud. I'm just barely emerging from a faith coma of apathy of my own, and it feels good to talk about it. It hit me that even though I don't know exactly why, and sometimes I want to resist this, but I'm happier and a better person when I'm trying to live the gospel. And that tells me that the gospel principles I'm trying to live are true. And they're of God. When I'm feeling annoyed about the church and the ultra-conservative, blind followers, I want to think the Joseph Smith history is a sham. But when my heart is in a non-grumpy place and I read about the history, it rings true. Not just because I've been raised to believe it. But because I believe God wouldn't abandon us and leave us in a disarray of religious confusion. He did lead Joseph Smith to restore His truth to the earth. While I know that, I also know that other religions have truth too. My best friend is a loyal member of Assembly of God and she's a better "Mormon" than I am, if that makes sense. Ha. Sometimes the fact that Mormonism isn't for everyone confuses me. But I do know I want a relationship with God, and living as a Mormon is the closest I've ever been able to get to Him, so that tells me something. I hope to have more conversations with you about this. It's good to know there are other questioning, wannabe believers out there. :) P.S. Have you joined the Be the Light FB group? It's a good one. I just poste my issues with garments there and got some great, non-judgemental feedback. Love ya, girl!

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    1. Kim, I can't stop thinking about your comment. (And I don't feel criticized at all, by the way!) I definitely struggle if I should really accept that line of thinking as a center motive for sticking with the Church; but in the end, I very much feel the same as you. I feel better when I live this way. And yes, I have so many friends who are of other faiths--or no faiths, actually--you are far better neighbors, friends, and citizens than I ever have. It's good to see that out in the world and I hold on to it. I love that Facebook group--thank you for introducing me to it! I'm already passing that on to everyone. Love you, Kim!

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  8. I love this! Thank you for being brave and vulnerable. I think a lot of people leave because they think it's black and white and everyone else has it figured out and they're the only one e with doubts. Frankly our Utah culture does a bad job of this and I think if we were all more open and vulnerable we would see that there's room for everyone, no matter our faith level. So I love that you are letting that be known, that you are going to church but that you struggle, and by doing so will make others feel more comfortable coming and not as alone. Also, just a thought on not feeling the spirit. I've found that if you struggle with any kind of mental illness like anxiety or depression or are on medication for those that it greatly impedes the spirit. Obviously not because of worthiness but it just can numb or overload those extra sensitive receptors. I haven't felt the spirit for awhile because of depression and then medication which is really hard but I have to tell myself it's just my circumstances, and rely on when I did have great spiritual experiences and then really utilize my faith and hope that it will get better. Anyway, I don't of that applies to anyone else, but I thought I'd write it just in case. Thanks again for your beautiful words.

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    1. Eliza! I 100% agree with what you said about our culture. I do feel like it's shifting though, and that gives me so, so much hope! I have heard that mental illness can cloud the spirit. On one had, I believe that; on the other, it seems so unfair! I don't understand the "why" behind that, but it at least helps take away the self-shame many experience when they blame themselves for not being "worthy enough" to understand the Spirit. Thank you so much for writing in!!

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  9. This was a truly awesome post! Thank you!

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