11 April 2013

Crisis of Faith: Part III

I can always count on Clive to put me back on track. 

Start from what you DO know they say. 

"Hold the ground you have already won" says Elder Holland. 

I am absolutely certain that I am more than the sum total of my parts.  I am more than flesh and bones.  I am a soul.  I am also certain that there is a divine creator of my soul.  A Heavenly Father.  The architect of my being.  My doubts lie in my connection to my creator and my understanding of his involvement in my life.  I realize that if I want to communicate with him, I have to communicate on the level of my soul.  Spiritual communication might be an appropriate term.

Despite my effort to gain an intellectual understanding by carefully gathering indisputable scientific evidence to irrefutably prove that God is real, I have missed the mark. 
“The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue.”

I’m going to have to acquire a knowledge of the reality of God, through spiritual means.  This is both discouraging and frightening, because I don’t trust my spiritual capabilities. 

But if God is going to speak to me, and teach me, and give me sure knowledge, it is going to be through my soul.  My brain and intellect can help me sort through and discover truth, by it will be my soul that confirms it.  This means that I can do what I want to do most, I can read and study. That is where I am good.  But it also means that I must do what I do least, where I am weak, and that is listening.  Listening with my soul. 

“God is and can be known only be revelation.  He stands revealed or he remains forever unknown.”

There can be only one source for the answers to my questions.  Personal revelation.  Period.  Bam.  That’s it.


  1. I can still remember where I was standing when I told my sponsor that I didn't believe that I could hear the answers that I really needed to heal my mind and heart from all the baggage I've been carrying around my whole life. I also have always tended to be one to fear doing 'the wrong thing' as I wrestle with decisions. I know I don't fully understand all you are going through, but I can relate to some of this.

    I don't know how it will be for you but even acknowledging that fear to myself, to her and to God was a turning point for me. Somewhere in my soul, there was a shift...small but perceptible.

    I hesitate to give advice with such a sacred process, but this to me is something that i think is worth sharing. The best thing someone said to me during this process was 'are you getting daily support?" For me that came through a 30-in-30 and the chance to vocalize both fear and truth that distilled. I also had some people I could call on to help to challenge the voices in my head that were sabotaging my soul. I think when our greatest battles are fought within the mind, there is great power in laying the stuff out in the light with the support of others who know what it feels like to walk a path like this, and who know and believe in who you are. My small healing circle carried me through the transition time while I was finding my God. (They still help me when I slip.)

    I'd always been really good at duty but to start to believe that I could engage God and share the most tender, deep fears and insecurities and anger and hurt in my soul? To find that He wasn't rolling His eyes or sighing at me or frustrated with me? That He didn't run or wasn't surprised by anything I said? Where before I thought I had to be an unfailing, stalwart disciple, to prove myself to Him, I came to realize and be ok with the idea that I was really more like the leper, the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood---...the ones who needed Him.

    Fwiw, except for my support network and taking care of basic spiritual and physical needs needs, I essentially went into a cave for a while while I was in this mode. I could barely handle interacting with anyone who didn't understand what I was doing. I say that just to say that for me, some measure of isolation was part of my process while I kind of stripped things down so I could be still and create space in my soul. And then God let me know when it was time to start to emerge again. :-)

    I know your process will be your own. I hope it is OK that I shared a little of mine. Love you so much.

  2. As I was reading this, one line:
    "I don’t trust my spiritual capabilities." just jumped out and bit me. I can so relate to that! There have definitely been times that I thought I felt so inspired to do something, only to find out that I actually needed to do something different. I felt like I had heard wrong. I didn't know what the Spirit sounded like. I began to doubt my relationship with and ability to hear him.

    It's amazing how time brings clarity sometimes. So, often, I've found that those times that I felt I was "wrong" were actually times I WAS listening. The detour and or extra path provided a lesson I needed to learn. I was able to gain more from my journey after having traveled on the detour. It's so hard, though, to KNOW if what we are feeling is Truth, direction, our own desire or Insanity. But, even if we make mistakes, even if we hear it wrong, it doesn't mean we weren't trying, and it certainly doesn't mean HE WASN'T GUIDING, it just means we took a look detour that provided an extra lesson.

    I believe that God is real and He is ever present in our lives. He cares about all of the details, however small they seem and is a constant presence in our time of need.

    Someone posted this talk lately, and I gained great strength from it. you may have heard it before, but I feel like I should share it with you now.

    love you my friend.

  3. I have been reading a fantastic book that helps me to understand personal revelation better, and also helps me to understand God and my relationship with him. It is called "Hearing the Voice of the Lord" by Gerald Lund, if you are interested. :)

  4. Hi, Jane.

    I hope I can say something to help you, because you have helped me so, so much. I don't know you, but I really love you.

    You can only have a testimony when the Spirit is bearing witness to you at that particular time. A testimony is something that our brains literally cannot remember. We can remember that we had one, and how we felt. But it's almost like a distant past, like from a dream, and it doesn't make sense to us anymore when the Spirit is not actively bearing witness. I believe God has made it like this at least for one reason: for our protection. He does not want us to sin against great light. When we have the Spirit, we also have the motivation and love for God that comes with it. It drives us to do what we need to do, and not not do what we shouldn't.

    So why would you wake up one morning and be cynical? I had a religion professor who explained this well. He says the Spirit leaves for one of two reasons: 1. You are sinning. Or 2. God wants you to climb the ladder and do something more than you have been. He is ready for your ascent to accelerate. It seems counter-intuitive, but it leaves people wondering what happened, and searching for answers. It does lead people to a lot of prayer, and to desperation for God's association and His validation. (That is why, I believe, the "desire to believe" - i.e. the seed as Alma describes - is so pivotal. Because if this happens, and you don't have that desire, you walk away from everything, forever cynical. But that desire to believe drives you to really work to gain that Spirit back into your life).

    It is painful to not feel the Spirit's reaffirming presence. It is the worst feeling I have ever felt. I used to think about it night and day for months. I felt like I was dying inside. I prayed, what I felt like was to a brick wall. I was at BYU and was reading my scriptures at least 30 min. a day. I wasn't sinning abundantly. I had all the desire in the world to know, but it took me so, so long. What kept me hanging on was that I didn't think President Hinckley was a liar. Around this time I got an answer to prayer, "Be patient." I felt that answer as a quiet assurance. This was by no means an answer the church was true, but enough that gave me motivation to keep going.

  5. (continued)...

    For about two years I kept going. Not as dead as I had felt, but I never got up in Sacrament saying that I "knew" the church was true. Oh, surely not. I took a class at BYU called Keys to Scripture Study. In there, the teacher taught us how to study the scriptures. I had been studying them, and even trying to ponder them before. But the detail and depth he went into really changed the way I studied. I started keeping a scripture journal (one of my greatest blessings in life), reading early in the morning alone and not distracted. I focused most of my time, and at least my initial time in the day in the BoM (since it brings a special Spirit that draws us closer to God than the other works). I prayed before, during, and after. I went slowly through the verses, sometimes spending an entire session on half a verse, cross referencing, praying, pondering, etc. I studied for an hour a day (we read a conference talk in that class where, I think it was Pres. Kimball had said it would be ideal if we could all spend an hour in the scriptures a day, half hour is good, and 15 min. is little time, but if it's concentrated study, it can still make a big impact. I shot for an hour, because I felt I could. Now I do a half an hour, but I love it so much, I often have to force myself to close them at 45 min. to get on with my day. Anyway...). I heavily used the cross references, the Bible dictionary, and a Webster's Dictionary, but no commentaries. I was there to learn what the Holy Ghost wanted me to learn, not what man wanted me to learn. I really took my time as, "God, what do you want me to learn today?" and did not worry about following anyone's schedules (I still don't usually do those challenges - read the BoM by such and such date. Sometimes, but not usually. That rushes me). I had many spiritual moments during this time. It's not that I didn't have spiritual moments before. But it's a different thing to feel the Spirit, and to KNOW this whole big picture is true. After about 4 months of this, one day I was walking around on campus, and it dawned on me that I had a testimony. And that it was rock solid. I mean rock solid. It was almost tangible. I knew it more than I knew anything else in life. Knowledge by the Spirit is so much more powerful that knowledge by our brains. But I believe Heavenly Father will only give us that if He knows we're willing to get down and get dirty with what He wants us to do. He doesn't want to bless us with more than we are willing be responsible for.

  6. (continued)...

    I hope this doesn't come across as, "Do this, and voila!" On the contrary, I love your vulnerability. That is one thing I didn't feel like I had - was someone I could share these feelings with. They are normal, good, and necessary. I just hope that something I say can resonate with you. I can tell you are a careful ponderer of Spiritual things. You quote conference and scriptures all the time, and your posts are so wonderfully inspiring, that I am sure I am preaching to the choir on Scripture study. I do believe the BoM is the Keystone of our religion for a reason, but I am not necessarily saying that is the thing the Holy Ghost is encouraging you to change. It could be something different for you. That was just my story. And of course, testimony stories are not a one time deal. This was just the most drastic for me. My testimony was so strong that I have never doubted since that I had one. Does that mean it's always as strong? No. I have fallen off the bandwagon several times in the last 10 years or so (I always read, but sometimes, like when a baby is colicky, I go through times where I am not as diligent). The Spirit leaves me, but my witness was so strong that I always KNOW that I KNEW and I always work to get it back. So far, as long as I take my scripture study seriously, after a couple months the Spirit comes back just as strong. But I do suspect one of these days, I might be doing those things, and the Spirit will leave, and I will need to find something else drastic God wants me to start doing.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog.