Alicia, don’t you just need to have faith?

Some of you out there reading may be thinking to yourself, “Alicia, this blog is good and all, but you are doing something wrong. You see, Alicia, you chose fear instead of faith. If you had put your trust in God, things would be a lot better for you.”

To you who are thinking something similar to that I say, maybe you are right, maybe not. Maybe if I had ignored lots of what I have read and heard and just put my faith and trust in God, maybe things would be better for me. But before you judge me too harshly, consider the following:

Growing up in the church, you know that everyone does not understand everything. Some people struggle with polygamy and still believe the church is true, for example. There are certain issues, almost everyone has them, that people just “put on a shelf” of faith. And there those things wait, until the next life, when it is all made clear to us. Really, I have no problem with this approach. It works well for lots of people. But here’s what happened to me.

Rather than a shelf analogy, I am going to use the analogy of a box. So picture to yourself a beautiful, spacious room, very elegantly decorated. The room represents my belief/ faith in the church. It is filled with teachings that I believe are true. Many of these things I believe in because I have had wonderful, often profound, experiences surrounding these beliefs. The box represents things that don’t make sense to me, given that the church is true. For a long time, the room was full of experiences that supported my belief. In the corner, there was a box where I kept a very select few of the things that just didn’t fit with the rest of the room. Polygamy was in that box. Very little else bothered me about the church. With my belief so full, I felt certain the church was true.

Well, as I start reading, and talking to my husband about what he is reading, the room starts to change. Okay, so Joseph Smith married other people’s wives (polyandry) while they were also married to those women. That rubbed me wrong.

Add polyandry to the box.

Joseph gave conflicting accounts of the First Vision.

Put the First Vision in the box.

And on and on it went, until eventually, almost everything that once decorated my room was in the box. All of the beliefs that confirmed to me that the church was true were in the box. And so here I am, sitting in an almost empty room. There is very little that I have left to hold onto when it comes to my faith. There are many many more things that are complicated and confusing to me now, than things I still strongly believe. At this point, to ignore everything in the box would seem crazy–there is just too much.

So I feel I have to take a different approach. There is too much that is confusing to me. So, my plan is to head over to the big, scary box and pick things out one by one. If, after carefully considering all available information, and my personal experiences, I can make something fit in my room of belief, then it stays. If, after careful consideration, I can no longer believe in that thing, then I’m throwing it out. In the end, we’ll see what my room looks like. I may be able to find belief again in most things. I may have to go find new furniture. I’m not sure yet.

This entry was posted in Current Thoughts and Struggles, My Faith Crisis. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Alicia, don’t you just need to have faith?

  1. jennifer says:

    Alicia. Well I’m biased in lots of ways. I love you tons and I desire to retain as much belief as seems sensible to me (as you know I’ve certainly discarded some beliefs that haven’t worked for me), but it’s definitely more comfortable for me to believe in the church. You’ve already had way more of my thoughts than I think you’d care to have, but for whatever it’s worth here’s my thoughts on the first vision: I’ve read through all the accounts of the first vision more than once over the years and what I’m left with is the fact that it was a very personal experience for Joseph Smith not even used at all in the early church. The minister he first told it to discounted it probably because there were lots of people having those kinds of visions and maybe like many of his time, he wanted to limit truth to the scriptures and not crazy personal experiences. I don’t even know if Joseph told his family about it. He did seem nervous to tell them about Moroni’s later visit. Joseph Smith did things differently than I would. I probably would have immediately written everything down about that experience. He didn’t. He didn’t even write about receiving the priesthood from angels. Oliver Cowdrey, who had been with him, was the first to tell about that. It bothers me that Joseph didn’t mention seeing heavenly Father in his 1832 account. I don’t know why he didn’t mention him and why he focused so much on the Savior saying his sins were forgiven (maybe he was feeling guilty). But there are enough similarities between the other accounts that I feel ok, not great, but ok about it.

    Faith to me is a calculated risk. I feel that I can appreciate the reasons God does not give us full evidence and certainly I can respect others’ decisions not to believe because it’s not there. But for me that risk has a big pay off. So many were worried about what Joseph was doing until the witnesses had their own experiences with it. Joseph Smith too was relieved as well. So for me things like the witnesses testimonies, and also the resurrection accounts in the Bible, and other things though not totally unambiguous, also have enough credibility to them (after lots of thinking and reserach) that I’m taking the faith risk. I feel comfortable doing so, and in fact great peace. But I want you to know that I greatly respect you. I believe in you, and I will support whatever decision you make.

    I love you and Ricardo and Andrew and God!

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