Monday, May 14, 2012

Search, Ponder, and Pray

I have been doing a lot of searching and pondering lately – but probably not as much praying as I should.

My mind has been full of thoughts in the past several weeks, which may be why I have postponed writing anything for the blog. photoI guess I just feel like there is too much to write, I don’t know where to begin. There is so much confusion in this world that I believe could be resolved with a clear understanding of the doctrines of Christ – an understanding it seems some very public members of the Church are lacking.

Ironically, one of the other problems with much of the public discussion I have found involves members of the Church either making claims of doctrinal issues with the Church when the actual doctrine says nothing of the sort, or making a statement about perceived attitudes and behaviors that “the members” of the Church or “the culture” of the Church produces. It just seems as if the most vocal members of the Church are those who are dissatisfied. And that is anyone is fully satisfied with the Church, they are considered to be “unintellectual” or somehow brainwashed, or chauvinistic, or otherwise criticized. But those who would criticize Church culture and speak negatively about Church doctrine, or suggest that the general membership of the Church does not understand Church doctrine are lauded as “intellectuals” and has somehow having a point.

I think there is significance in asking questions. After all, the pattern of revelation is that we ask questions. However, I feel that far too often the members in the public eye who are asking questions are not seeking revelation, but are rather seeking change in doctrine, or they simply want to complain about how wrong they thing the Church is… yet they still want to claim they are faithful members of the Church.

As I have been exposed to these influences (those who would criticize the Church while claiming to remain faithful to it) I have asked similar questions to the ones they have posed, yet in a spirit of seeking revelation and inspiration – and the beautiful thing is that I have received personal revelation about gospel principles. I feel as if my understanding has been enlarged in a substantial way in the past several months, and I am grateful for that opportunity.

At the same time, my soul is still in a little turmoil wondering how I can reach out to those who seem confused or those who lack faith. How do we encourage those who are not exercising faith to do so? When Elder Perry asked us to follow the spirit as we decide to add our voice to an online discussion, I didn’t think it would be so heartbreaking to refrain when required. I have added my voice to a few discussions in the online world where I have felt prompted to do so, yet even in doing so I remain in a state of turmoil, wondering what I can do to help those around me see what I see.

How do we help people see what we see? How do we help them have what we have? Can we ever do it?

I feel so blessed with the understanding of the gospel and testimony that I have, and my greatest desire is that others can have the same understand and testimony. I do not know everything, but I feel like what I have helps me understand even more complex principles of the gospel – which are all actually very basic, once you get over looking at them through a mortal lens.

I don’t really even know if this post made any sense beyond just me rambling – I just felt like I needed to get some of this out of me and on paper where it mattered (not that it really matters on this blog – but maybe someone will find this and read it and maybe they will be able to help me, or maybe this will help them, or maybe a comment one of you will make will help someone – who knows).

So I guess my point is that in all of these questions and issues that have been coming up in the public forum I have done a lot of searching (the scriptures, books, articles, websites, etc) and a lot of pondering on these subjects, and yet in spite of my feelings of testimony and understand I still feel disquieted.

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And as I thought of a title for this post, I realized that the missing key is prayer. I have not prayed about all these things that have been a whirlwind in my mind. Perhaps as I take my turmoil to the Father in prayer He can help quiet my soul and put me at peace and help me find a way to express these thoughts that are laying deep inside me, waiting for something.

10 comments:

  1. I understand your frustrations and concerns and exhaustion completely. I could have written this post! In fact, staying away from those places of dissent was finally the answer for me-- I began to doubt and my testimony was in jeopardy. But staying away was almost as hard as being a minority voice who still believed in the doctrine.

    Just know that sometimes, following Elder Ballard's advice can mean simply testifying online on your own blog and on your own FB page. And you're amazing at that already. :)

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl! You're the best.

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  3. Like Cheryl, for the most part I stay away from those places of dissent. Even reading the whacked comments on most of the so-called mainstream articles about the Church in this "Mormon Moment" can make my blood boil and my heart sink. But every time I think about responding, the quiet voice in my head always seems to whisper, 'your words will not be heard here.' And so I don't. The experience is very similar for me to trying to teach those on my mission who wanted to 'Bible bash.' We were taught to avoid bashing--even if we had all the perfect scriptures to "answer" their questions--it wouldn't work. Scriptures don't teach, we don't teach, the Spirit is the only real teacher of the gospel and if we are in a spirit of contention and doubt, the Spirit will not be present. The only thing we can do is testify and pray. We can't help people see who want to be blind. All we can do is cultivate the Spirit in our own lives, be a source of truth in all things so that when people are ready, they will seek us out. It is so difficult, so very difficult, but it is the only way to have the Spirit on our side, which is the only way to really see.

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    1. I love that you mentioned following the Spirit (the "your words will not be heard here") - there have been times when I have felt that prompting, and times when I have felt prompted to share (and afterwards realized no one cared about my comment - but maybe it DID touch someone's life, and they just didn't mention it on the blog. Who knows...)

      Following the spirit is the key.

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  4. Becca, I feel like I had a bit of personal revelation today and it involves what you are saying in a round about way. I think that for the most part people blog for themselves really. Generally they are doing it for their own mental health, or to share whatever thoughts they are having in their own mind. An on line journal that they are sharing with others. So although many people welcome comments and like to hear what their readers are saying ultimately that is just sort of entertainment. They aren't genuinely interested in having a discussion or in changing anything, not in changing their view on whatever it is or in seeing the other side. I am not speaking of every blog out there but in general I think that is what they are. See when I first discovered all of these LDS blogs I was very excited about it and thought that I could have deep meaningful discussions with like minded individuals about many of these things. Things that I think about and pray about. What I have found however is much the opposite, I make comments on blogs and no one ever responds, not others in the community or the blog author. Maybe my comments aren't interesting enough, maybe they don't matter. I think the real answer is they just don't care, they are blogging for themselves and what I have to say my observation or thought is meaningless, or means very little. I have subscribed to LDS blogs that have huge readership and there is generally a little group that the blog author communicates with regularly and then everyone else's comments are just there to keep the numbers up. And I am not criticizing anyone here, I guess it is asking to much to respond to everything? I don't know. I realized today that looking for that "community" out there where at least I can have these kind of deep meaningful discussions is an elusive thing if it even exists at all. I have a unique situation, my husband's family who is very active LDS hates us, they refuse to communicate about anything at all, they don't even care to ask if we are living. The communication that has happened has been cruel and abusive, it is what it is. My family I can talk to but they are just not really into this stuff. I have reached out to people in my ward and no one seems interested. I think that the crux of what I am trying to say is that in general people are really only interested in themselves and letting someone else in, even if it is for a gospel discussion on line is something that is very difficult for most people to do. I realized all of this today and your blog reminded me of what I was thinking about earlier today. Maybe the answer is that we all make the effort to make a new community and on line place, a blog where people can feel more open and can share. I don't know. But I think for the most part people blog for themselves and they really don't care what anyone else thinks or has to say, especially if you might see a certain subject differently than they do...

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    1. Missy, email me! I have something to talk to you about :) mysouldelighteth (at) gmail (dot) com

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    2. I understand exactly what you are saying, Missy. I have read the maxwellinstitute site for ages and love studying, but I hunger to talk with people who have similarly studied deeply. I began commenting on the more intellectual blogs a couple of months ago, just because I was hungry for that conversation, I think. So much of the conversation is pretentious and I didn't particularly feel welcomed either. They seem to have started the blog as an online connection for a community they already had, and others are open to come along as long as they parrot a similar view or don't rock the boat too much (in our case by being too Molly). I want genuinely faithful conversations, not loaded with innuendos of criticism or baiting. I have noticed some of the commenters/writers just choose not to engage the baiting stuff and comment only on the faithful stuff. My estimation of their writing is much higher. I chose to join a community of bloggers who tend to explore some of the negative because I wanted to develop a particular form of courage and to drive my stake in one area as a voice of ... something else. Innocent faith, standing for humility, I don't know. I'll keep trying. I hope that I will meet up with you there sometime Missy. I will engage your comments! :)

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  5. I'm here to comment on GCBC, but wondered if I can step out of bounds and just ramble for a minute? One of things I am coming to really embrace about the gospel is my unique place within it. The experiences in my life that have built my testimony, my quiet moments of personal revelation, the questions that trouble my soul, and my own personal missions in life mean that the gospel will look and feel differently to me than it will to anyone else. But it can be so frustrating when it feels like I'm out of step with my sisters in the gospel. It can feel so lonely when I don't have a "kindred spirit" to share the important stuff with. I think that's why I may seek out discussion and debate that exists. Joseph Smith told us that we need to ponder the highest heights of heaven and the deepest depths of hell. And maybe I think that church members who are professional academics and intellectuals may be more prone to do this than I, as an educated stay-at-home mom, do? But sometimes these debates/discussions can be distressing to me on a really deep level. What I have found I have to do is take that extra baggage: maybe the questions that were introduced that simply can't be answered, the presumption or ignorance displayed...whatever it may be, and to literally visualize myself packing it up in a box and giving it over to Heavenly Father. (That sounds so corny to write!) But I just have to leave it with Him. It gives my heart peace while I still seek to deepen my own testimony and understanding. Does that make sense?? Anyway--thinking of you as your seek for peace in whatever you need. :)

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    1. Becca - it's not corny! I know exactly what you mean! That's kind of where I was getting at with this post. I do a lot of the searching and pondering (discussing, debating, etc) and not enough of the praying (boxing it up and giving it to Heavenly Father - or really even just asking Him about the things I am searching and pondering. Ironic, eh?)

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