So, I’m not able to post much about anything that doesn’t relate to the reasons my life is currently falling apart. This post is connected to the post I made on “Trusting God,” but my questions and thoughts are slightly different.
What do you do when God makes promises to you (and you know it’s God), but those promises aren’t fulfilled?
I think there can be a tendency among church members to brush this question off or twist the situations that prompt this question into making some kind of sense. For example, if a woman’s patriarchal blessing says “you will marry in the temple and bear children,” and she lives a life as a single woman, we will often say things like “oh, the blessing must be referring to the next life.” Or, if you go to the temple and have a deep and personal spiritual experience that reveals you’re going to have an opportunity in the next year or two to switch careers, and a couple years later that opportunity has never occurred, we will often say, “well, maybe you didn’t recognize the opportunity,” or “maybe you weren’t living righteously enough to be worthy of the opportunity,” or “maybe you didn’t hear God right in the first place.”
And yes, I know stuff in your patriarchal blessing can apply to the eternities, and that sometimes you think an answer to a prayer means one thing when it means something else. And sometimes, you can think God is talking to you when He’s really not. Figuring out what’s inspiration and what’s not can be a messy business.
But I think our instinctual reactions to smooth over the jagged edges of these difficult situations (in order to get them to make sense) are flawed. They deny the truth of what are very real dilemmas, and they are ungenerous to the emotional and spiritual understanding of those involved. I don’t think we should rely on easy answers for that friend who prays about The Book of Mormon and never gets an answer, or for the sister struggling with infertility who receives a clear and (to her) unmistakable answer to a prayer that she will have the opportunity to have children in this life, and that opportunity doesn’t materialize.
And when this kind of thing happens in your own life, it is a faith-rocking (and perhaps even -shattering) experience that leaves you feeling you’ve been run over by a bulldozer. And the options for unflattening yourself present as many problems as they solve.
- 16 April 2009