Tonight I attended a really enjoyable fireside. Rarely, very rarely in fact, do I enjoy something related to church this much. Part of it was that the woman doing the fireside (who is in my ward, btw) used to be Cosette from Les Mis on Broadway, and she sang a couple Broadway hits, including “For Good” from Wicked, which is one of my very favorite songs. The other reason I enjoyed it is that her topic was how life does not turn out the way you plan. She talked about going through infertility for years. They tried various medications and surgeries, but nothing worked. Finally they tried in vitro. Her husband had given her a priesthood blessing, as they were waiting for an In Vitro procedure, telling her that she would have a baby in 9 months. She said they had complete faith. She got pregnant but two weeks later miscarried. Her husband and her were devastated and confused. She said they were confused but not angry at God. They decided to give up on conceiving and adopt, but they knew it would most likely take years to get a baby. It ended up happening quickly. Well, it turned out that the day they adopted the baby was exactly 9 months from when she had that priesthood blessing. Miracle right? But then five weeks later they lost the baby when the birth mother decided she wanted her child. She said as they were driving to the mother’s house she felt like Abraham. She said they were placing their faith in God and she was hoping that God would reward that faith, like he did with Abraham, by not making them give their child up. But that’s not what happened.
There are a few reasons why I sat there mesmerized the whole time she was talking. One reason is that she was talking about a pain–infertility–which I am vaguely familiar with (though she went through much more in a lot of ways). The second is that she experienced a type of pain I am familiar with, the pain of feeling God promised you something and then having life turn out the opposite. She had a tremendous amount of faith in God, felt like God told her they were going to have a baby in 9 months, had miracles happen to get the baby, and then had that baby taken away. I had faith in God, lived my life “worthily,” got married in the temple just as I had been told in my patriarchal blessing I should (and as I felt over and over I should), then my husband left Mormonism all together and became Agnostic. That was extremely confusing to me.
Finally, she talked about how her and her husband were not mad at God; they didn’t understand, but they put their faith in God and moved forward. Shortly after this experience she went in to try fertility treatments again and found out she was already pregnant. They now have four children. She said she felt like their reward of being blessed with children came after the trial of their faith.
I suppose this made me wonder, once again, if I am just failing a trial of my faith. Ricardo leaving the Mormon church made no sense to me. It shook my faith in God. Even if I do somehow find a way to preserve my belief in God this experience still leaves me with questions like, How much does God actually know about what is going to happen in life? If he knew this woman was going to miscarry and then have her child taken from her, why would he tell her she was going to have a baby in 9 months? If he knew my husband was going to become Agnostic, why would he give me so many experiences that led me to feel the single most important thing I could do is marry a priesthood holder in the temple, and then tell me Ricardo was a good choice (I felt very clearly that God approved of my decision to marry Ricardo)? Does it even make sense that God would go around giving false promises, half truths at best, to his children just to see if they can still believe in him when they find out he lied? Maybe that sounds harsh, but that is one way of saying it. Growing up I always found the story of Abraham interesting, a little morbid, but still inspiring. That idea of being tested with something so difficult, like Abraham was tested by being asked to sacrifice his son, and then being rewarded if we hold strong–it always seemed like an amazing idea to me before. And I wanted to make sure I passed that test when it came. But it’s not that simple–I am legitimately confused, and God, if there is a God, must know that too.
So, if there is a God, does he know what is going to happen in life? I used to think he did. I used to think that he already knew the choices we would make, but that he allowed us to make our choices anyway and he just tried to help us the best he could. But there are some serious holes in this logic. If he knows what we are going to chose, and some people are going to make wrong choices that are going to prevent them from returning to him–their father–then why wouldn’t he interfere and send an angel like he did with Paul? Why would he let some children fail and make tragic mistakes and yet intervene with others? Why would God create a plan like this at all–where we come to earth and a bunch of us don’t get to make it back. How could that make God happy? How could that be the best plan? Maybe I sound like Satan here, but think about it.
Then if you decide that maybe God does not know what will happen in the future of our lives, then we cannot possibly rely on revelation as truth, since that truth would be dependent upon the choices of all of us. Maybe this scenario could explain some of the “false revelations”, as you could call them, that have occurred (ex, Saints will build Zion in Jackson county. Ex, people being told the second coming will be in their lifetime). But if revelations are often false, since they would be dependent upon people’s choices in this scenario, then it would be pointless to have revelation at all since it is basically guess work. Right? Or is God’s best guess good enough that we just go with it?
Maybe God is real, but simply did not know that I would marry Ricardo, and didn’t know Ricardo would end up leaving the Mormon church. Maybe he just doesn’t really know what will happen and makes a best guess based on how things are at the time.
Or, there is no God, and people are the ones making their best guesses about what will happen to us (believing all the while they are speaking for God). That could make sense.
Or maybe there is some other option…? (help me out here peeps)
One thing is for sure though. I saw a glimpse of what I would have been saying had I chosen to not walk this confusing path. I can be almost certain that I would have been giving the same advice she did: trust God, only through him and through the Atonement of Christ can you possibly hope to get through the trials and difficulties you will face. And I can’t lie, I had a really nice, peaceful feeling hearing her say that God was still trustworthy to her after going through what she went through. In fact, I had a nice, peaceful feeling–a feeling I rarely experience these days–at that fireside throughout the whole night. As I was telling the sister missionaries some of this after the fireside they said, who knows, maybe that will be you in five years. The sister from Italy even joked she would come back and hear my fireside then. And honestly…who knows? Who knows? Does God? And here my mind goes again…