Trusting God (part 2)

So a couple of years ago, I made a post at Times and Seasons about trusting God. In the meantime, things have changed, and the whole trusting God thing is a challenge for me at the moment. But let me back up a bit.

For the past 2 1/2 years, I was engaged, but a few months ago my fiance and I broke up. It’s a long story, and the details are personal, but one of the things I’m struggling with is a more general problem: how it’s affected my relationship with God.

To make a (very) long story short, God led me into a relationship with this person to a point where He was encouraging me (strongly) to commit my life to this person. And now that’s currently not an option, I’m in emotional pain, and I’m uncertain about how to move forward with God since his advice has been so confusing. I would even be okay if God said to me at this point: “Hey, you tried to make it work, and that was the right thing to do, but now this break-up is what you need to move forward with you life, and here’s how you should move forward,” but He hasn’t even given me that much. God’s still telling me to try to figure out how to make a committed relationship work with someone who currently only wants to be my friend.

So, to the point of my post. I’m not looking for relationship advice. And I’m not really looking for a lot of life advice–I am currently moving forward down a path that feels right to me. I’m more concerned with some narrow questions that are broadly applicable: what do we do when God leads us into situations that seem to have no way out? How do we (re-)learn to trust God after this type of experience?

One request: please do not offer specific judgments about my personal situation above (i.e. tell me that I must be misinterpreting God or that I got myself into emotional pain solely through my own folly). While I am far from perfect and have made my share of mistakes, I have also spent 4 years living with this situation and praying about it, and despite a certain amount of confusion, I’m pretty comfortable with my assessment of God’s involvement in my life. Anyway, because this issue is so personal and difficult, I will delete any comments that remotely violate our comment policy.


  1. Seraphine, I’m so sorry things didn’t work out. 2-1/2 years is a long time to be engaged (especially in Mormon culture), and to have it fall apart like that has to be disheartening.

    If it were me, I think my first reaction would be to wonder whether I had correctly distinguished God’s wishes for me from my own, to assure that I wasn’t projecting my own needs and desires onto God as opposed to reading his will clearly. But as I understand your last paragraph, you’ve already contemplated that possibility and are comfortable it’s not the case.

    So if we take that off the table, the thing that occurs to me is that maybe God really did think the two of you would make a wonderful couple and wanted it to happen, and your ex simply decided not to go there. What makes Mormon theodicies more workable than most is our belief that God respects the free agency of individual humans. So maybe he was pushing this relationship with the best of intentions for you, and it was simply your ex who mucked it up by changing his mind.

    I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud here.

  2. Seraphine, I have no idea what to say, other than I think I can relate. I’m glad to know that others share similar struggles. I love this quote from your T&S post:

    I think I will constantly struggle with my version of pride: believing that I know what’s best for my life (and rejecting advice from others, including God, who tell me otherwise.)

    I felt that I was not receiving guidance from God, so that I could learn to direct my own life. I’ve been doing that for a long time now, and I have a hard time distinguishing what is from God and what is not.

  3. I rebuffed (“let’s just be friends”) my girlfriend (now wife of 25 years) for 14 months. Could it be possible that the “no way out” means wait a while?

  4. I’m sorry, Seraphine. This sounds really difficult. I’ve often felt frustrated that I don’t feel much direction from God in my life. But it must be far more frustrating to feel like you do have God’s direction for doing something and then it doesn’t work out.

  5. You’ve hit the interesting intersection of free will and inspiration … one I’ve wondered about, which is why does God give us advice that depends on the free will of others when they may not exercise it the way that is necessary for the matter to come full circle (though they may)?

    You are looking for relationship advice, just that the relationship is the one you have with God rather than with your ex-fiancee (two and a half years? That was a long engagement, bless your heart).

    But it is just as hard to give that kind of advice.

  6. I may be wrong in this, but I never was one to pray about relationships with girls when I was in the dating scene. I just felt like that was an area where the choice was up to me, and also, I felt like love and lust are such powerful emotions that it would be way too easy for me to mistake my own feelings for divine impressions.

    Or as a BYU professor used to call them: a Hormone Revelation.

  7. Kevin, when the break-up first occurred, that was my general interpretation of things. I totally believe in the free agency of others (and I even believe that people can get conflicting messages from God about the choices they should make in their life). So, I’m not even sure I would go as far as to say that my ex “mucked it up”–there just could have been different “right” paths for both of us.

    I think what I’ve struggled with the most is the lack of clarity I’m getting from God (especially now that the break-up has happened). If it’s truly the case that it was right for the relationship to move forward for me but not right for him because of whatever reason, I would think that at this point in time, God would say to me: “Okay, you did what you were supposed to by pursuing this, but now you need to respect his free agency/inspiration and move on.” But that hasn’t happened.

    And if this weren’t as painful and aggravating as it’s been, I could probably have an easier time being patient and hope that it all makes sense eventually. But it’s hard to have that patience (especially after almost-3 years of lots of confusion). And in the meantime, I’m having a difficult time restraining my skepticism whenever God talks to me (which, as I said in the post, is my main concern).

  8. I think that you need to trust that he was trying to send you the right way, but also trust that free agency hurts. Maybe you need this right now so that your friends and family can show you that you are well-loved and truly cared for.

    Sometimes I think Satan’s plan would be easier because it would be less painful. And then I remember that my Mother would still like to do it that way. And I laugh and say, “You know the bigger picture, and I can just see right now,” and cry a little and go on. My mom, cousin, and roommate got the “just friends” thing from their respective husbands, so maybe it is just temporary (but if it is, there should be groveling).

    Or maybe you need to go/come visit some friends for a bit. I hate that you are hurting. You are in my prayers.

  9. Zenaida, thanks for the empathy and kind words. There are times in my life when God’s directions are clearer than others. While there are things I know have been from God (the things I discussed in the post), in general, this has been a situation that’s been murkier than others.

    Ed, it’s certainly possible, though I would definitely appreciate it if God said to me “he needs more time, so it’s time to wait for awhile.” Really, I just want directions from God that make sense to me given the realities of the situation. I don’t know–I’m hoping that it all makes sense at some point (and I haven’t given up on God yet).

    Ziff, thanks for the kind words and for explaining my dilemma so precisely. 🙂

  10. Stephen and tkangaroo, I agree that free agency hurts (and can make things incredibly tricky sometimes).

    Stephen, you are also right that I’m less concerned about how my ex-fiance is exercising his free agency (which I totally respect despite the pain it’s causing me) than I am concerned about my relationship with God. As I said in my response to Kevin, what’s been most aggravating is the lack of clarity and answers that I’m getting from God. Maybe I have too much of a need for things to make sense.

    P.S. Your point that I actually am asking for relationship advice, just not the relationship advice you might think at first class made me smile. 🙂 And you’re right that I probably have to work things out with God on my own. I was just hoping that maybe others had been through similar confusion and had some insights to offer.

    And tkangaroo, thanks for the prayers and kind words.

  11. Andrew, thanks for linking to your post. I agree that there are definitely factors that influence our ability to get clear answers from God: our hormones and fallible assumptions being a couple of those. One of my own personal struggles is strong feeling in general. When you have a lot of intense feelings about a lot of different things (as I do), it can be difficult sorting those out from manifestations of the spirit, which can often speak through feelings and emotions.

    But I’ll repeat what I said in my post–while I know that my perceptions are limited and fallible and all of that, I’m way past the Hormone Revelation stage, my Patriarchal Blessing most definitely says this is something I should be praying about, and I have prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed…

    Really, what I want most is clarity, though I could accept the argument (perhaps a bit grumpily) that clarity is not what I currently need.

  12. So sorry, I’ve been dealing with a lack of clarity myself lately, but I’ve found that when it comes to God’s hand in our lives, usually hindsight is 20/20. It’s helped me to remember the myriad of times in my life when I thought to myself “what the ..” only to see a few months go by, or have some distance gained on a trial, then look back and think “Oh, OK, now I get it.” Recounting those times in which I didn’t know what the direction was or if communcation was closed only to find things resolve better than I could have hoped for makes me a little less nervous when I’m feeling a bit in the dark.

  13. In my experience answers to prayers are either positive (yes), negative (no) or silence. I have received specific impressions at times, but never in answer to prayer. I don’t know what kinds of answers other people get, but that is what I have to work with, and it is a rather limited vocabulary.

    With that in mind a friend of mine told me about something that happened on her mission. She and her companion were tracting and they came across an apartment building they hadn’t really seen before. They prayed about whether or not they should do the apartment building, and received no answer. So they went ahead and started to work it anyways, and about halfway through they passed by a window and saw a big complex of buildings. They both knew that those new buildings were where they needed to go.

    My friend saw it like this, if they got a yes to their prayer they would have finished that first building, and probably forgot about the other ones. If they got a no they wouldn’t have even seen the other buildings at all.

    Anyhow, I do hope things get better for you.

  14. I prayed once “please let this woman be mine.” I prayed again in the spirit and asked how I would know my wife. I was given what I wanted the first time and what I was supposed to have the second.

  15. Sometimes God does ask us to go down a road that is a dead end. Sometimes we won’t find the turn we are supposed to take until we encounter the dead end.

    Sometimes my husband and I have made a decision, which then made a new option available which was better than the original decision so we took that.

    Somtimes we pray for things but the most correct answer is not clear to us yet, so we struggle with the options we are aware of and we think we know what God is telling us, but the complete answer doesn’t become obvious for some time.

    Good luck to you. Sometimes you have to take it one day at a time.

  16. Seraphine,

    I can still remember the hurt from a similar experience. I personally think that the pain from the experience you’re going through is of the deepest kind. It can be a major trial of faith for those who seek to follow the Savior.

    I want to express my love for you even though we don’t know one another, but we do know each other on another level because of the covenants we’ve made with Heavenly Father, and we are fellow travelers with the deep hurt that comes from relationships trials.

    I’ll share a couple of things I learned from my trial with the hope it might be helpful to you:

    1. I was angry with God when things started going badly.
    2. I turned to God with all the energy of heart I could bring to bear even though I felt betrayed by Him.
    3. I learned that God can bless a relationship because I asked Him to, but individual agency cannot be altered.
    4. I found God on a whole new level because of my relationship crisis.
    5. The turning point for me was when I was asked the question, “lovest her more than me?”
    6. My answer to this question brought Spiritual experiences I never imagined would be available to an ordinary person.
    7. I learned that there are degrees of “fullness” and to go from one fullness to the next comes about by being faithful in trials (a quart jar is full when it filled to the top, so is a gallon jar, and etc, but one is more full because of the capacity it contains–we are like that. Our souls capacity is increased by remaining faithful in trials)
    8. I learned that God is serious about bringing to pass our immortality and eternal life by all means available.

    If you are interested I’ve written about this experience on my blog.

    You are in my prayers and thoughts,


  17. I’ve yet to encounter a theodicy that solves dilemmas like this. Any answer sound too much like Job’s friends, and the answer from the Voice in the Whirlwind is useless.

  18. I had a similar situation. It was more like a year and a half when anything coming from heaven seemed deeply confusing, or wasn’t coming, or was coming but I was confusing it, or I would think it was from heaven but it was just me or was it (?) and why was God ( who had always found my keys and retainer with the regularity of a swiss watch) suddenly being such a hateful flake?

    I decided that, at least for a little while, I was going to have to be my own goddess. I distanced myself from everything that reminded me of the situation(s) I was dealing with and did what my logic and emotions ( not my intuition or spiritual “promptings” which were becoming so confusing as to drive me mad) told me to.
    I am very religious and never made a step, took a test or took a bite without acknowledging some sort of divine hand behind it ( which is right and good.) But I found that that taking that step gave me enormous growth in spirituality (as separate from religion) and maturity ( still working on it) and I came back, oh so slowly and cautiously, when I was ready. I knew I was ready because I WANTED to know what God wanted again, except this time I wasn’t begging or dreading anymore.

  19. Seraphine, all I can say is that I also have had experiences where I thought I understood my own answers only to have things change in ways that made no sense at the time. In each and every case, after the passage of some time (in a couple of cases, a few years) I was able to look at where I was then, how the previous answers had put me there and begin to understand the answers that had been incomprehensible previously.

    I really think that enduring to the end is as much for the hindsight it provides as for anything else. Other than that, all I can offer are my sincere wishes that you understand sooner than later.

  20. Dear S,

    This is my first time to comment here, though I am an avid and faithful reader. I am going to pop out of my “spectator” only mode to say that I feel your frustration and pain immensely. Your situation describes one that I went through five years ago. Almost. Exactly. And I understand the frustration, the lack of direction (when the direction you received before about the relationship was VERY clear.) I suffered a great deal. And when my relationship (a relationship I KNEW I was supposed to be in, and a relationship I had NO DOUBT would end in marriage) did end, it sent me into a spiral of not knowing how to listen to the spirit. I chalked it up to the fact that I must NOT know how to listen to the spirit (and it WAS the spirit, not the hormone kind) and that I must have been led by Satan (one persons suggestion) or that he choose to use his free will differently (but really, wouldn’t God know that, so why play such games with my heart?) or a million other reasons that I couldn’t ever really accept because I knew what my experience had been.

    Sigh….here I am, five years later, and still no wise answer for it. In fact, things only slowly began to unwind for me (sorry, I REALLY wish I had a way to give you your trust in God back!) and at the moment, I am neither a practicing mormon, or really even a practicing Christian. I’ve taken the last year to really let go of a lot of my old beliefs that I felt were defining my life, (and thus confining it). I have let a lot of ideas go (yes, even some about revelation and the spirit) and I feel happier, honestly. And, much more authentic to who I really am.

    Good luck.

  21. Traci, my problem is that I know what the direction is, but that direction is not an option. And I’ve received no further clarification, explanation, etc. You’re right, though, that I’m hoping that time provides more clarity than I’m currently getting. It’s pretty much the only hope I have at this point (though it’s not really emotionally satisfying).

    Starfoxy, I think I would go a little crazy if I was working with that limited of a vocabulary with God. God varies in his communication to me (sometimes I get silence or “yes”/”no” answers), but he can be pretty explicit/detailed at times. It can be aggravating (if it’s not an answer that I want to hear), but sometimes it’s really nice to have clear directions.

    JKS, taking things one day at a time is what I’m currently doing. Besides, I’m not sure if I got any more revelations about what might happen beyond today, I’d actually believe them. 🙂

  22. Jared and JDDaughter, thanks for sharing your thoughts from your own experiences. One thing that I have realized the past few months is the growth that this experience is prompting in me (or forcing me into, more precisely). And it’s something that I am valuing despite the difficulties. Of course, it doesn’t really provide me with the answers I’m seeking, but it helps a little.

    Ray, thanks for the kind words. “Time” is the only (potentially) philosophically satisfying answer that there is to my dilemma. Unfortunately, I wish it was more emotionally satisfying. But I guess I don’t have much of a choice except to “endure.” 🙂

  23. Adam S, thanks for the Job reference. I just taught that to my students a few months ago, so your answer really struck a chord.

    I agree that there are no clear answers that others can give me to solve the dilemma I’ve posed. I guess I was hoping for some sharing of personal experiences–some descriptions of how people have faced similar experiences, etc. It helps to hear that there are others who are out there who have been through similar things.

  24. D’Arcy, thanks for delurking and sharing your experience. Your experience does sound remarkably similar to mine. And you’re right that certain explanations just don’t make sense given what you know you’ve experienced (hence, my request in my post to not tell me I’m wicked or misreading God).

    I’m sorry that things were so difficult and painful for you, and I wish you the best of luck as you move forward (and I’m glad that you are happier).

  25. Sometimes I think Saints put a lot of emphasis on God-directed action they should take. Maybe it would help (said the apostate) to just tell God you accept His will, and ask him to open the way.

    And then wait for the way to be opened.

  26. Seraphine,

    I can still remember the hurt from a similar experience … I still remember some things I went through in my late twenties (I did not meet my wife until I was 28 and almost 29).

    Now I’d had some warning. My mission president had set me down and given me a long lecture about how I shouldn’t worry if I found myself 25, 26, 27 etc. and not married and just to be patient with God, right before I finished my mission. I remember thinking he was silly at the time, though I remembered it later.

    The hardest thing is when you are getting the message from God that you are pointed in the right direction, even though it doesn’t seem to be going much of anywhere. Looking back, I’m able to make sense out of several such intervals in my life, but the first was terribly painful, and there is another (that ran about sixteen years) that I’m still working through.

    Sometimes it is easy to think to myself “Gee, God, you’ve got all the time in the world, and since you’ve been around at least a 100,000 years, I’m sure a hundred years seems like nothing to you (for someone who has lived 100,000 years, a hundred years is less than six months subjective time in my life, at my age), but I’m kind of running on empty here …

    Bridging that gap is always hard, especially when you are in the moment. Kind of like the first time I really hurt a fingernail (I still remember that, lost the nail eventually). I thought the pain would never end. I’ve felt worse pain since, but I’ve got some perspective on it now. As a seven year old or so kid, it was a different thing.

    What has helped me presently is remembering times in the past when God eventually brought it all clearly together for me. The problem is that as I get older, there are times I’m afraid God is going to make me go through worse things in the future than I’ve been through in the past.

    I’d just rather not. But at the same time, I’m not ready to retire from life.

    Ok, I’ve kind of run on, but the basic thing that helped my relationship with God survive was remembering the past and that God had proven out.

    But that stretch in my late 20s was in many ways the hardest on our relationship, in some ways harder than what happened in the 1990s between God and i.

  27. BTW, there is also the old country song “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers” — which I really enjoyed because it hit me at just the right time in my life.

    I’m not sure it does anyone any good if they aren’t looking back.

    What makes it hard is that we do not always look back and find that everything turned up roses. My upcoming post at Mormon Matters (already written, goes into rotation just after Christmas) is about that.

    It is why the relationship with God takes faith rather than just maturity and a little patience.

  28. A couple life experiences from me:

    A couple years ago we bought a restaurant, left downtown Seattle where we’d lived for about ten years, and moved into the boondocks. This was maybe two years – give or take – after I returned to the church, that after about thirteen years away. I wanted to know if buying the business was the right thing to do, so I took it to the temple. I got one of those clear as a bell answers: “This will be a blessing in the lives of your employees, business partners, and family.” I recall thinking “nothing for me” at the time. But, in general, I thought this answer meant that we were going to be very successful, and that the Lord was now going to bless us materially for the changes I’d made in my spiritual life.

    Time forward about eighteen months. We have bled money, lost just about everything we have, have put family money in jeopardy, and I have worked myself into total spiritual and emotional exhaustion. I’m constantly wondering ‘is this what the Lord had in mind, or have I screwed up somewhere.’ To say things had been trying and stressful would be an understatement. For several months I got less than three hours of sleep a night, not knowing how I was going to pay the thousands of dollars in bills we had coming in constantly above and beyond our revenue stream. And things just kept breaking. Throughout I would get the comfort that comes from the companionship of the Holy Ghost, but nothing in terms of direction that I earnestly and constantly sought. We sold the business, and this year dealt with the aftermath.

    All along I’m thinking, surely things will not get worse than they are now. Surely something will come along to save the day. Then about June – now we are in danger of losing the place we lived – I got an answer that said “things are going to get worse, you should find your strength in service in the church.” And boy have things gotten worse … but now I expected it. I began to see myself in a new way. I began wondering what I was when all the trappings are stripped away. When I’ve got no peg to hang my ego on. Who am I when I have to basically beg for help. I never turned away from my rather stressful and time consuming church calling, however much I had lost confidence in my own ability to act the leader. And I began to see myself without any of the worldly trappings we use to define ourselves – and that has been an amazing blessing.

    As for the answer to the earlier prayer, that has become so apparent. I’m in frequent communication with several of my old employees. They ask for advice, sound me out about things, tell me their news. One young girl tells me that they call the days when I owned the restaurant the “Golden Age of Tom.” I can’t think about that conversation without weeping, if I’m alone. About how good it was, and what she learned about working and life. That thrills me, makes me so happy – certainly not the blessing I had expected, but one that maybe runs deeper than the financial success I’d hoped for. Now I’m living in the basement of a former partner, saving money so we can get back into the mix. And that may turn out to be a blessing for him and for us, too.

    One of the things that has nearly broken through this is my marriage. My wife is not a member. Very much not a member. She averts her eyes when we drive past a meeting house. We met when I was at my farthest point away from the church. She is an extremely bright, very unique woman. We’ve been friends, and have a lot of similar ways of viewing things, But as I’ve given up slowly on my old ways of living, some gaps have obviously emerged between us. And this year+ has certainly taken its toll on her. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pleaded with the Lord, what to say to help my wife, what to say to help my marriage. Never any answer. Pure silence. Why, I ask, can I so easily get answers to my prayers when I’m preparing to teach a lesson, but when it comes to this most important thing, silence?

    About a month ago we had a fight about prop 8, and (I think) about how our attitudes and ideas about sex had changed over the last few years. And she didn’t speak to me for almost three weeks. Literally, didn’t speak to me. Except when absolutely needed, and to let me know she had no idea what “an awful person you’ve become.” I’m vacillating between rage and acquiescence, trying to be kind followed by returning hurt for hurt. Then, I’m driving to work, praying and thinking, and an idea, a sure idea comes into my head, about my wife, who she is and some of things that make life difficult for her. I can’t tell it, because this is a public forum. But it caused me to rethink our whole relationship, from day one, and to see her as so much more wonderful than what I’d seen before. I don’t know if I’d have been open to this answer a year ago. But now I can see my way clearly. And yesterday we had a really great conversation, looking back over old ground with new eyes – and I feel like I’m her friend again, which is the absolute only thing that I care about.

    Anyway, the whole thing can be hard. What we want and what God wants for us are _rarely_ the same. Usually they aren’t even in the same vicinity. He wants us to give up the world, and we want everything in the candy jar. We do not know where following His advice will lead us.

    Hope some of this helps.

    Take very good care of yourself. ~

  29. Ann, I’ve tried doing something pretty similar to your suggestion, but the way is still closed. I’m waiting, though, and as others have pointed out, perhaps “time” is the answer.

    Steven, thanks for the reminder to remember past experiences. I’ve tried to do that but it’s hard because while I’ve been through difficult experiences, I’ve never been through an experience that’s been difficult in quite this way.

    Thomas, thank-you for sharing that. It does help–even though it doesn’t give me the answers I’m seeking (which I think only God can give me, really), it gives me some things to ponder. And your faith and determination has bolstered mine just a bit, so thank-you.

  30. I just wanted to say thank-you for all the comments, and that I really appreciate how so many of you have shared your own experiences with me. You all have given me a lot to think about, and I’ve been strengthened by your faith and insight (and, more generally, everyone’s empathy and understanding).

  31. Also, Thomas, I hope you don’t mind if I quote that comment on my own blog in a few months. If you do mind, let me know. I understand either way.

  32. Learning how to retrust God. Hmm. I’m going to go in a different direction in this.

    I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I’m not about to suggest that it’s always “god’s will”.

    Personally, I really struggle that any sort of loving god would let some people suffer. I could go into specific examples of suffering, but I won’t. I’m not talking about the loss of a relationship or expectations of that relationship (although that pain can be real, very real). I’m talking about things like the suicide of a parent, loved one, death of a child, etc. etc. And sometimes death can be less painful than very real daily situations. It may be comforting to think that there is a plan and that God took that person home – but in my view there is very real pain there that doesn’t go away (although it might lessen over time). Whether or not a person has faith that helps them through.

    I want to be sensitive to people of faith – and sensitive to others’ beliefs when I say this, so I’m really not trying to offend anyone here. Aside from learning from my mistakes/missteps – and realizing that which doesn’t kill one makes one stronger – and that I also firmly believe there is a reason for some things that happen (not the death of a child, but other things in life, job loss, etc.)…

    I think we/I just can’t understand why some things happen sometimes. period. We can look and drive ourselves nuts for an explanation but sometimes there is just no explanation of why things end up how they do.

    I’ve found the best solution for me is to simply take stock of where I am, be grateful for what I have and how I’m able to move forward – whatever that may mean.

    And I wouldn’t go so far to suggest that Satan was behind whatever direction you (or anyone) might have originally gone on. I see it as a logic/rational/math type problem. In some situations, people just didn’t have all the information. And things change. And things happen. I don’t know if that means the hand of the divine or not. Personally, not necessarily in this situation, but in general I find that sometimes people ascribe things to God’s interference/will that may not have anything to do with God/a higher power. Think of those that win the super bowl…did God really want one team to win? Or if it wasn’t God, was it really Satan?? There may be another (unknown) explanation.

    So this comment has nothing to do with learning how to regain trust in God. I just found in my own life that changing my understanding of God (and God’s will and influence) was helpful in figuring out the best path for me.

  33. Well said, aerin – even if it doesn’t fit Seraphine’s specific example. I agree completely with the point you make that God (and Satan) often get credited (or blamed) for lots of things that are nothing more than the natural result of mortality.

  34. Good catch, c.biden! I think it’s quite clearly spelled out in the scriptures that God has existed for no more than 99,999 years.

    And six months.

  35. Ray,

    You’re free to use it – but run it by me first in e-mail so I can correct some grammar and tense problems. eeep.

    Groovy. ~

  36. Seraphine, this post and the related comment thread have stuck with me for a couple of days now. I don’t have great insight to offer, just an odd idea from the days of the Spanish Empire (really!). In those days, it was a practice of royal officials when given commands that they felt were impossible or impractical to return the response, “Obedezco pero no cumplo” — roughly, “I obey but I can’t fulfill.”

    This fits pretty well with the Mormon idea, from the D&C in the Missouri era and also related to the Manifesto, that God doesn’t hold it against us when we fail to fulfill His commandments because other people have made it impossible. “Obedezco pero no cumplo” seems like a possible option for Mormons from time to time…

  37. aerin, I agree with you to a large extent–as Ray said, I think that God and Satan get more credit/blame that they probably deserve, and I agree that there are lots of things in mortality for which there are no easy explanations.

    Also, for many things in my life, I act pretty independently–I like to make my own decisions and figure things out myself, and there are a lot of things in my life that I do that I don’t consult God about and which he isn’t explicitly involved in.

    But this situation is tricky because God *is* so involved. And in a lot of ways, this situation would be easier if His involvement wasn’t so clear to me. I would just do what I thought best without His input, and I’d move on… But because of my belief, I can’t just ignore Him and do my own thing. And I’m hoping (despite my current struggles with trust and faith) that where I eventually end up is better than any place I could have gotten to on my own.

  38. Roasted Tomatoes, thanks for that thought. What you’ve said actually connects pretty well to my recent experiences, and a lot of my prayers lately have been along those lines.

    The past couple weeks I’ve been trying to exercise my faith (which I’m finding pretty incredibly hard and why I thought making a post to get some inspiration might be helpful). I’ve been doing my best to take the small steps forward that He’s offered to me without any idea of what will happen (i.e. “I obey”) and then tell Him that the rest is up to Him (because “I can’t fulfill”).

    But I just want to say that this obedience in the face of seeming non-fulfillment is so scary and hard…

  39. I have taken courage from the following when I have had to deal with severe trials. I hope you find some help from these words as well:

    —I have said, it is necessary that we pass through certain ordeals, and that we be tried. But why is it that we should be tried? There is just the same necessity for it now that there was in former times. I heard the Prophet Joseph say, in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion: “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.” —It is the crowns, principalities, the powers, the thrones, the dominions, and the associations with the Gods that we are after, and we are here to prepare ourselves for these things. We are after eternal exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God. JD 24:198 John Taylor

    I heard Joseph Smith say–and I presume Brother Snow heard him also–in preaching to the Twelve in Nauvoo, that the Lord would get hold of their heart strings and wrench them, and that they would have to be tried as Abraham was tried. Well, some of the Twelve could not stand it. They faltered and fell by the way. It was not everybody that could stand what Abraham stood. And Joseph said that if God had known any other way whereby he could have touched Abraham’s feelings more acutely and more keenly he would have done so. JD 24:264-5 John Taylor

  40. I’ve decided to blog a little on this topic.

    this situation would be easier if His involvement wasn’t so clear to me — that is the heart of why it is a relationship issue with God, and why it is so hard.

    c.biden — God has existed much longer than 100,000 years. I used that for the force that the understatement has. If God had only existed 100,000 years (rather for an actual or practical infinite amount of time) the things that follow are interesting — things that most people do not think of .

    Starfoxy — I liked that story, I’ve had a number of those type of experiences.

    so scary and hard…

    Wish you well.


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