Zelophehad’s Daughters

Crises of Faith

Posted by Lynnette

A topic that came up several times at Sunstone this year, and generated some thought-provoking discussion, was that of crises of faith.  This got me thinking about the kind of standard “crisis of faith” narrative.  Such a crisis might be set off by any number of things–disturbing information about Church history, prayers that remain unanswered or blessings that go unfulfilled, troubling experiences in sacred spaces, negative encounters with Church leaders, and so forth.  Whatever the catalyst, it causes a person to re-evaluate and question her or his previous beliefs.  She or he wrestles with these demons until finally reaching a resolution of some kind.  Some find a way to stay in the Church as believers; others find a way to stay in the Church despite their doubts; others opt to leave altogether.

Growing up, I had the impression that the crisis of faith narrative was normative and universal, that it was the inevitable trajectory of belief.  At some point in life, I gathered, you should expect to find yourself  wrestling intensely with religious questions and concerns.  In the versions of this story I heard at church, this was the trial of faith that preceded a spiritual witness, and the challenge was to keep praying and stay committed until eventually your concerns were resolved and the storm had abated. In other places I heard the story told with a different spin, in which the challenge was articulated as that of letting go of the problematic beliefs of the Church and seeking peace outside of it.   These two versions of the crisis of faith story had clear differences, but they both framed the crisis of faith as a discrete life event which led to some sort of resolution.

I therefore expected this process to unfold in my own life.  I didn’t know for sure how the story would end, but I thought I at least knew the basic plot.  When as a teenager I first began entertaining a variety of doubts and questions, at the back of my mind I expected my journey to follow this path.  I anticipated some future moment in which my doubts would be resolved or set aside, and I would commit myself wholeheartedly to the Church once and for all–or (though I think I considered this possibility less likely) I would decide to make a definitive break from it.  Either way, I would move into the ranks of those who could tell the story of their crisis of faith in the past tense.

After a number of years, however, I began to suspect that this particular narrative might not be the most helpful way to make sense of my actual life experience.  My beliefs and my relationships to the Church were simply not following this pattern.  If I could frame my various doubts and concerns as a crisis of faith–and I’m not sure that’s the best phrase for my situation–it is something ongoing, and it seems more circular than linear.  I periodically decide that the Church is not so bad, that there is maybe even a place for me in it.  I remember the times I’ve encountered God there, and am struck how much I do believe.  This is my church, I tell myself, and I’m going to stay.  I’m going to make this work.  I’m going to be one of those Mormons I admire who hold on to their faith even with all the challenges and the hard stuff.  But I also periodically decide that I’m going to leave, that I can’t deal anymore with the aspects of the Church I find difficult and even toxic.  I go to church and feel like I’m some sort of alien, and I’m reminded of how much I don’t believe.

I don’t know how many times I’ve decided this is it, I’m out of here, goodbye Mormonism.  I also don’t know how many times I’ve decided that I’m going to stick it out and be a committed Latter-day Saint. And then I wonder whether I’m simply a hopelessly wishy-washy, lukewarm believer.  I grow frustrated with my own indecision.  Wouldn’t it better, I ask myself, to just make a decision once and for all–in either direction–rather than to continue living as a sort of half-baked believer?

But I am thinking that I need a different story with which to frame my life, an alternative way of thinking about where I am.  The crisis-of-faith-leading-to-a-resolution narrative is not mine.  My relationship with the Church continues to be messy, and characterized by profound ambivalence.  My belief regularly waxes and wanes, and  I cannot speak of either my faith or my doubts in the past tense, as bits of an earlier journey.  I don’t know what to do with all the jagged edges, the contradictions in my experience and in my thinking, but I am wary of smoothing them over too quickly.  I don’t really know what kind of story this is.  I’m still in the middle of it.

37 Responses to “Crises of Faith”

  1. 1.

    Nicely said, Lynnette. I think this is a more common life path than the dominant narratives sometimes make apparent.

  2. 2.

    The possibility of my crisis of faith lasting for any length of time was changed when I listened to the Mormon Stories podcast on stages of faith. In it, they discuss the different stages that they say can take years to go through.
    Years?, I thought. (2 years ago, of course)
    Like you, Lynnette, I still have a messy relationship with the church. Mine is also complicated by my husband and children, who very much want to and should stay in the church.
    Even on the drive back from Sunstone, I had a heart to heart with my husband about my relationship with the church.
    Is my commitment to the church enough? Do I have to have faith? Can I find that faith when my experiences can be so painful? These are not easy questions to answer. The only thing I know is that I am not and will never be the same person I was before.
    And then, I have some success with God. I pick up my scriptures and read a few infuriating verses in Alma 13 about high priests being chosen for their calling. And despite my annoyance, God starts speaking to me, gently. Helping me to see how I can be closer to him.
    It’s all so convoluted, but comforting at the same time.
    Thank you for this post.

  3. 3.

    Oh man…that resonates with me from ten years ago. My solution? Kept God, left the church, found a basic Christian church, never been happier.

    I wish you luck on your journey.

  4. 4.

    “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief” seems to capture the paradox fairly well for me.

  5. 5.

    I’m glad you’re still willing to play with the jagged edges, even if they might prick your fingers from time to time.

  6. 6.

    Well said. A similar series of sessions at Sunstone a couple of years ago had me asking the same question, though I phrased my one-foot-in-one-foot-out ambivalence less eloquently, and more crassly, than you do in this fine post.

  7. 7.

    Lynnette,

    If one hangs out with those who are in a perpetual “crisis of faith” then the outcome is to be like them. I’m not suggesting breaking off contact, I’m suggesting one can expand their circle of others to include those who are experiencing the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Those who put the scriptures into practice (1 Nephi 10:17-19) know that the Lord will provide His followers with the gifts of the Spirit. The purpose of the these gifts is to help us avoid deception (D&C 46:8).

    Ones testimony (faith) eventually becomes immovable as experiences of the Spirit accumulate. The jagged edges of the church cease to be a high profile concern as ones attention is absorbed with things of the Spirit instead of things of the natural man/women.

  8. 8.

    Lynette, if you are interested in my take on my own situation:

    In response to a wonderful post on Mormon Matters in June about the classic dark night of doubt, I wrote a post about my acceptance of ambiguity. I have linked it below:

    The Bright Night of My Soul

    The short version is that I have come to accept the idea that we see through our glasses, darkly. Some day, it will be clear, but I am fine with it being obscured for now. I call it “the muddle in the middle”, fwiw.

  9. 9.

    Jared, how do you know that Lynnette is hanging out with those who are in a perpetual crisis of faith? And how do you know that she and others around her aren’t experiencing the Holy Ghost?

    As Lynnette’s best friend, I’ve hung out with her quite a bit, and I’m trying to figure out if you’re including me in the deceptive, unspriitual influences you think are permeating her life.

    P.S. Please read our comment policy.

  10. 10.

    Seraphine–In my experience, and with those I’ve associated with, I’ve learned that when one diligently seeks to grow in the things of the Spirit faith increases, doubt gives way. As these experiences accumulate one becomes immune to those things that create a regular waxing and waning of belief, as Lynnette described.

    I’ve described my experience. For those interested click my name and see Jared’s Testimony.

    I read your comment policy and feel I am compliant. If you feel otherwise please help me understand.

    I’m not attacking anyone. I have no idea who your are or what kind of an influence you project.

  11. 11.

    Great post, Lynnette. I wonder if we Mormons are prone to crises of faith because of the traditional teachings that you either believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God or there’s no place for you in Mormonism.

    There’s not much room to negotiate within Mormonism if you’re one of the rank and file members (especially if you’re one of the rank and file members growing up in Utah). This black/white approach to belief can both stultify and energize, depending on your personality and circumstances – thus leading to many mini-crises and cycles of faith/doubt/faith/doubt.

  12. 12.

    By the way, I think your comment policy is reasonable and well thought out.

  13. 13.

    Jared, I guess our experiences differ. I consider myself a spiritual person, and I’ve had powerful spiritual experiences (and have “grown in the spirit” in my life), but I’ve experienced the kind of waxing and waning that Lynnette describes. Perhaps not quite as severely as she has, since I’ve never seriously considered leaving the church, but there are still times in my life when my doubts overcome my faith.

    As for our comment policy, I’m glad that the elimination of doubt has been your experience, but your comment implied that Lynnette (and those with whom she chooses to associate, which includes all those who blog with her, since we’re all family and friends) aren’t properly feeling the spirit or growing in the spirit. From my perspective, that’s an indirect way of questioning the righteousness of Lynnette and her friends (which is a mild violation of rules #1 and 2).

    I guess I think it would have been better if you would have shared your own experience without telling Lynnette that she was following the natural man (the implication of your final sentence is that Lynnette is following the natural man rather than following the spirit, which is another way of questioning Lynnette’s personal righteousness).

    Thanks for your participation, and I hope this explanation clarifies things for you.

  14. 14.

    Jared, I think your second comment describing your own experience is an excellent example of the types of comments we try to cultivate here. Your first comment, which diagnoses Lynnette, is a little more problematic because it falls into the “here’s what’s wrong with you” category and implicitly questions her righteousness by assuming something that you can’t possibly know about her, namely, that the reason she experiences crises of faith is that she associates with those who don’t cultivate the Spirit.

    I suspect that your comment was made in the best possible spirit, and it’s very evident that you aren’t a troll or trying to be trollish. We’d just gently ask that you reconsider your no doubt well-meaning assumption that Lynnette needs to alter her circle of acquaintance in order to improve her spiritual life.

  15. 15.

    Lynnette,
    Ambivalence means that something still remains in the church for you, but it also interferes with making a decision. Maybe ambivalence is an invitation to a spiritual journey. I would start by looking at what remains and why.

  16. 16.

    Ray,
    Great epiphany post.

  17. 17.

    Seraphine and Eve,

    I see your point and stand corrected.

    The point I desire to make is that the greater our crisis of faith is, the greater can be the Lord’s response to us if we diligently seek Him. I don’t understand why this is the case, but I have experienced it. The Lord can give us experiences that causes our faith to become dormant regarding His existence and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Then it is a small leap of faith to accept the rest of the story. Then when issues of church history and problems with leaders and etc rise ones faith is unshaken even though it is difficult to shoulder.

  18. 18.

    Thanks, Jared, for being so understanding of our policies and so willing to restate and clarify your position. At the risk of sounding like PBS–we value commenters like you!

  19. 19.

    “Then it is a small leap of faith to accept the rest of the story. Then when issues of church history and problems with leaders and etc rise ones faith is unshaken even though it is difficult to shoulder.”

    In my case that’s not how it happened. Well, it did happen that way, and then it stopped happening that way.

    There was a confluence of events I couldn’t have expected. The first made me very certain that God loved me and had forgiven me. The second, a month later and intimately connected with the first, made me gradually less certain of everything else. It sounds weird, I know, but if you knew the specifics it would all make perfect sense.

    I realized a few months later that I wasn’t as certain about every last detail as I had been. Testimony meeting started sounding a little strange. (I had always been a little uncomfortable with the idea of going up, but I was now even more, with so few things I could really say I “knew”.) Things about church history that I had “shelved” started falling into my lap.

    I’ve been very fortunate to have a good friend who has been through all the church history details already. I’ve also discovered that much of what I had accepted as true was really folk belief and popular extrapolation. Those two things have helped a lot, but I’m still less certain than I was.

    It’s funny, though. I’m happier this way. I have one extra “perfect knowledge” item (grand total of two!) due to that first unexpected event, and that’s enough to keep me going. I’d rather really know that one thing than all the rest of it combined. And the rest I accept on faith built on subjective evidence.

    Speaking of which, I think we do a disservice to faith in the church, culturally. We tend to talk about it as if it’s forcing yourself to believe something in spite of yourself, and it’s not even close. (“Find your testimony in bearing it” comes very close to that idea. Or, “If you know the Book of Mormon is true, then you have to believe xxxxx”.) We talk of it sometimes as a dispassionate scientific experiment (see Alma 32) to discover truth, and it’s not that, either.

    Notice that in Alma 32 you start with a desire to believe. You’re biased already. Also notice that Alma talks a lot more about “good” than “true”. In fact, he clarifies “true” as being “good” – which leads me to believe that either 1) he believes “good” implies “true”; or 2) he means “true” as in “faithful”.

    Your friend gives you a seed and says that the tree that grows from it bears the most awesome fruit. Trusting your friend, and hoping for some of this fruit, you plant it and work at it. When you’re done and have tasted the fruit, what do you know? That the seed is good. Heck, you have perfect knowledge of that.

    I have perfect knowledge that a lot of things in the church are good. Am I drop-dead certain of its objective truth, whole-sum-total, in the Western-philosophical sense we tend to use? No. I have good subjective evidence for some of it, though, and that’s enough. I have faith based on that. I’ve decided to trust.

    Since deciding recently that this is a fine way to be a Latter-Day Saint, it no longer bothers me that I’m not so certain. It also doesn’t bother me when other people are. (It doesn’t even bother me when some of them say that being certain is the only way to avoid certain temptations.) If that’s how God has decided to work with them and it does them good, great. I think God is more concerned with “good” than “true” anyway.

    Do I have a “testimony”? I can’t say “I know the church is true” without some conditionals… so maybe not the way most people think of testimony. I suppose I just gave it, actually. :)

  20. 20.

    Oh, and thanks for the wonderful post, Lynnette. I hadn’t really collected my thoughts on this subject until today, so I’m grateful you sent them in this direction.

  21. 21.

    I think that “finding faith” is more the name of the journey, rather than having “faith” as the name of a destination. Sure, the fruit was sweet, but that was SO yesterday and I’ve another seed to plant and garden to weed and fruit to sample today.

  22. 22.

    Maybe romances provide a better narrative? I know this can be totally misconstrued, but I’m not entirely kidding. Heathcliff and Catherine come to mind for my own experience, though they may not be best comparison for you. I often thought of my own relationship with God and the Church in terms of the struggle of being a part of a loving but seriously dysfunctional family.

    The problem with many crisis of faith narratives is that they don’t acknowledge or place much emphasis on the relationship between the individual and the faith institution and attached community. Faith is treated as something primarily cognitive in nature, when in reality it’s woven through a tangle of social connections.

  23. 23.

    I really like your point, John. Religious commitment is so much more than an intellectual assent to truth propositions: it’s a full-blown relationship with God and his community of adherents. You can’t count on honeymoon sentiment to carry the relationship in the long-term: like anything, it takes work.

    Building sort of off The Right Trousers’ comment on the significance of goodness rather than truth–my own most serious “crisis of faith” really hasn’t been a crisis in my commitment to truth propositions (although I have plenty of doubts), so I’ve never encountered a narrative that I feel encapsulates my experience of religious crisis adequately. We post-Enlightenment thinkers are so fixated on what is real. My bigger questions revolve around what is good. I’m convinced God is real. But I wonder whether he’s good.

    On the other side, the narrative that a testimony of the BoM or Joseph Smith will fortify you against perceived problems in history or whatever else is, I think, equally singleminded and limited in applicability. We talk about testimony as an all-encompassing binary, as though, once it’s gained, the testimony chest has been locked and sealed and no new information should be taken into account in formulating one’s religious worldview. We need multi-dimensional terms in which to discuss faith.

  24. 24.

    thankyou for this post, lynette. I don’t have a whole lot to add, except my gratitude that there are those like you out there.

    “I’m still in the middle of it”

    ditto.

  25. 25.

    Wonderful post.

    Like Matt, I wrote about this elsewhere not too long ago. I’ve been doing this for over five years now…back and forth, back and forth. It’s become tiring, and I’ve become tiresome. I get snarky and cynical in my down phases (which seem to be the most common) and overall I just wish the whole thing would go away. I’m tired of the struggle and just want to be done with it.

  26. 26.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about possible parallels between the church and graduate school, since they’re both institutions with which I have love-hate relationships. (At the moment church is surprisingly ascendant; graduate school, on the other hand, is plummeting.) They’re both institutions that offer immense rewards, on the one hand, and severe provocations, on the other–but I stay in both for similar reasons, I think: both offer me something I simply can’t get anywhere else. (I often think of Peter’s rhetorical question, Lord, to whom shall we go? when Christ asks him if he too will go away. As I strive to apply the scriptures to my own life, I wonder how this exchange might apply to surviving my comps.)

    I also wonder if there are ways we can talk about the church as a human and evolving institution without impeaching the church’s divine mission as a divine institution. We sometimes hear rather cliched acknowledgments of the church’s human side, but little exposition in concrete terms about what that means for each of us in terms of what we can realistically expect of the church and how we can navigate it. Personally, I tend to find it much easier to have faith in a church and in prophets who are human as well as divine; that simply accords so much better with my experience and understanding. For me anyway, the all-or-nothing stakes that are sometimes placed on faith make it much more difficult than it has to be.

    I really like Lynnette’s point about the inadequacy of the crisis-of-faith narrative to the complexities of her experience (are you having a crisis of faith about crises of faith, Lynnette? Maybe someone could recommend some stages-of-faith books for you to read and pray about to resolve your doubts. ;) ). Among committed believers there are at least two patterns I hear about–the crisis-of-faith, gain-or-lose-a-testimony, moment of grace narrative in which something happens that sets the person off on a different trajectory, decisively in or out, and the more cyclical spiritual-ups-and-downs narrative I hear about (and myself constantly experience) at church. I’m wondering how to fit the two together to form a more complete picture of the complexities of spiritual experience, because although we often discuss the reality that spiritual life goes up and down, it’s much riskier to admit that the downs often are crises of faith that could–and do–result in people breaking with the church.

  27. 27.

    Interesting post and comments throughout. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of “losing one’s faith” that I guess some would say is a outcome of the crisis of faith. I have found the idea of loss inadequate to describe my personal experience. After a long period of intense reflection and struggle, I decided to voluntarily give up my faith and leave the LDS Church for the (overly simplified) reason that I found that the Church (defined as both a formal and informal organization) brought more harm than good into my life. I have actually found that my life has more meaning and purpose (to steal from the RS motto) than ever before.

    [As an occasional yet long-time lurker, I want to thank you all for providing such a thoughtful forum for these types of discussions. ZD is my favorite-by-a-longshot LDS-themed group blog.]

  28. 28.

    A number of my co-bloggers are on vacation at the moment, so I’ll just jump in and say–on behalf of all of us–thanks for your kind words, kj, and we’d very much like to see more of your comments in the future. Best wishes to you!

  29. 29.

    As suggested by your post Lynette, I too wonder if part of the anxiety about crises of faith among Mormons is that we have an inadequate variety of narratives through which to evaluate our experiences.

    Some medieval saints imagined themselves as warriors constantly besieged by temptations that had to be fought off in a battle that lasted a lifetime. Only death ended the ebb of advance and retreat, and only then were the valient declared victors. In contrast, we want our spiritual struggle to over after a single skirmish.

    Other medieval saints imagined themselves as wandering pilgrims exiled from their heavenly homeland. They expected mortal life to be fraught with the states of exile: lonliness, estrangement, dislocation, and grief. Again, only death restored the faithful to their rightful homes as Christ heirs.

    Maybe we should borrow or create some new narratives of faithfulness.

  30. 30.

    Sorry I haven’t been keeping up with this, but thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Jared, I appreciate your willingness to engage the conversation respectfully. I think maybe where we disagree is on the question of whether there’s one universal trajectory of faith that applies to everyone, such as the one you suggest in which one accumulates spiritual experiences and then no longer has doubts or is vulnerable to crises of faith. Such a narrative might apply quite well to some people’s experience, but I’m skeptical that it works that way for everyone–especially given the scriptural assertion that people are given different spiritual gifts.

    ECS, that’s a good point about the black/white, “the Church is true or it isn’t” approach. I know I’ve tied myself up into mental knots when I’ve used that paradigm, telling myself that I was either a believer or I wasn’t, and trying to force all my experience to fit into either one camp or the other.

    The Right Trousers, thanks for your thoughts. I like your observation that you have one or two things you are certain about, and then you can go with the rest. I think that ties back to ECS’s comment, as that’s much closer to my experience than a kind of broader “everything about the Church is true” sort of testimony–I think in my own case there are maybe a handful of things that, while I might not be absolutely certain about them, I feel like I have good reason to believe, and the rest is pretty murky. I also appreciated your thoughts on faith. Similar to what you’re saying, I think, I find it more helpful to think of faith as something we do–be committed, be faithful–than a sort of cognitive process whereby we attempt to force ourselves to believe things.

    Roasted Tomatoes, jessawhy, Kevin Barney, nitsav, Matt Thurston, Ray, Paul, G, Ann, kj–thanks for the kind words, and for sharing some of your own experience. (And kj, we’re always immensely flattered to have someone de-lurk and say nice things about us—I hope you feel welcome here!)

  31. 31.

    JohnR, I really like your point about this not taking place in a cognitive vacuum. Our relationships with the Church—and even to some extent, God—are mediated through other human beings, with all the messiness that is inevitably a part of that. Sometimes I find myself thinking about the Church as this abstract thing, separate and distinct from the people who comprise it, but I’m not sure that kind of separation is actually tenable.

    And I think there might be something to the romance analogy. Like Eve, I have a love-hate relationship both with the church and with grad school, and my relationship with the latter has very much followed a kind of classic romance narrative. First I fell in love with my field, and everything about it was wonderful and perfect. Then I became disillusioned, to the point where we had to have a period of separation. Now I’m back in the relationship, but without the initial giddiness –though hopefully with a bit more stability. My relationship with the Church hasn’t followed that pattern quite as neatly, but elements of it have certainly appeared at times.

    Kiskilili, I think your comment about the testimony chest, locked and sealed and presumably impervious to new information, is an apt way of getting at some of the problems with some of the traditional narratives about faith. I’m thinking there’s a bit of a contradiction at times in terms of how testimonies get discussed—one the one hand, they’re presumed to be dynamic, in that they’re described as something that can and should grow. From this perspective, it’s expected that new information and experiences will influence your testimony. On the other hand, when people talk about new information or experience having sent their testimony in a different direction, it’s often suggested that their testimony shouldn’t have been affected by such things—that if it were sufficiently strong it would have, in essence, remained static.

    One of the things I find most intriguing about narratives is the fact that they allow for retroactive causation. When you know the end of the story, the events in the middle appear different—in that sense, there’s a way in which the future can affect the past. So in the realm of faith, when you encounter something that makes you question your beliefs, you can’t necessarily draw on past events as a way to ground those beliefs—because what’s happening in the present causes you to reinterpret those events. (This isn’t only true of crises of faith, of course—people also re-think their past in light of conversion experiences, like Augustine retrospectively seeing the hand of God throughout his entire life history.) I’m not sure where I’m going with this—maybe just that I’m wondering whether it’s even possible for the past—past events, past beliefs, past experiences—to remain static, for the testimony to be put definitively into the testimony chest.

    Fideline, thanks for the suggestions about other possible narratives. I’ve always liked the wandering pilgrim story, the “for now we see through a glass darkly” sense of mortality.

  32. 32.

    I too have experienced a crisis of faith that is ongoing. I have been a member for five years, but during the first four years, I thought I could just “elide” over the past and issues about the church that I didn’t think were right. I think one might actually call this denial. I finally realized I needed to face those things which have been tucked away in my mind and really analyze them. Unfortunately, I am in grad school too, which makes it difficult to find time to do this intense examination. A life event happened that has caused me, during this last year, to really think about the church. I can’t stand the comment made in so many meetings that if we believe the Book of Mormon is true, then we must believe Joseph Smith was a prophet and then, we must believe everything else is true, too. I have decided that this is an illogical conclusion; in our fragmented post-modern society, we can hold two different thoughts at once; that some things are true but not others. I guess at this point in my faith, that’s where I am. I am not sure if this will continue forever, but it is good to know that other people experience these deep self-discovery moments too. I enjoy this website and find deep comfort in knowing that when I am really struggling on a matter and I don’t feel comfortable talking to the Bishop (I never do), I can come here. It is a refuge from the “storm.”

  33. 33.

    Hi Katie! I’m glad you stopped by! :) I agree that it makes little sense to claim all our dominoes are lined up, as it were, and if the one at the front is pushed (the Book of Mormon is “true”), then all of them will cascade neatly into place. This just isn’t logically necessarily the case, as you point out. I’m fairly sure the Church is a mixture of inspired and uninspired teachings and policies, and although I have suspicions, hopes and doubts about which is which, I couldn’t personally sort it out in any coherent way.

  34. 34.

    Sorry for posting so late on this thread, but I just want to thank Lynnette for her post. It’s beautiful.

    I keep waiting for my crisis of faith to be resolved, but I am still (15 years later) in the middle of it. When I was a Laurel, I approached my YW adviser with questions about troubling (to me) aspects of our doctrine. I was hastily told that anti-Mormon propaganda was spread by the devil and I should stay far away. My parents responded in a similar way. I learned at that moment to keep my questions and doubts to myself.

    I always assumed that I would eventually become “strong” in the gospel. Maybe when I got married? Maybe when I had kids? My faith is still not strong, but at least I am beginning to appreciate the journey.

  35. 35.

    Great comment, Kori. Maybe we need a way of talking about doubt as a potentially meaningful (and often unavoidable) aspect of religious experience, rather than as something exclusively corrosive that we all hastily resolved in the distant past as a condition of our commitment to the community?

  36. 36.

    I really liked this post, Lynnette. Sorry I’m so late to comment. Just a thought on Katie (#32) and Kiskilili’s (#33) points: Just as it’s oversimplifying to set up dominoes of truth, where knocking one means knocking them all, I think it’s oversimplifying to set up dominoes of falsehood, where knocking one means knocking them all. I know this is an oft-repeated discussion on the Bloggernacle: to some people it’s an insult to find that others have a different network of beliefs than they do. They’ll say that if you knock over one domino of falsehood (for example, calling the priesthood and temple ban uninspired) then you must knock over the one where you reject President Monson, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Christ. I think that as you put it so well, Katie, it doesn’t necessarily follow, and I would just add that that holds for both truths and falsehoods.

  37. 37.

    I just came across this entry. It’s beautifully thought out.

    It reflects my narrative as well. Thanks for giving me additional perspective.

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