Zelophehad’s Daughters

Unfulfilled Promises

Posted by Seraphine

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.

75 Responses to “Unfulfilled Promises”

  1. 1.

    Tough question, and one that I have been dealing with for a little while—though, from what you write, no where near the same level as you.

    My approach has been to question what I really believe is a promise from God to me—and I stress that last part because I found myself assuming other people’s promises extended to me.

    That left me with fewer personal promises, but still some that I worried were not being fulfilled. The second phase of my approach has been to bring my complaint to God and keep it right there—a constant topic of conversation between us you might say. I feel a bit like Job when he summons God to court. Sure, Job gets his head ripped off in that confrontation, but I don’t see any hint of God telling Job that he was wrong to demand an explanation.

    I really doubt this is helpful, but it’s my honest (if not ignorant) answer.

  2. 2.

    I think it’s important to differentiate between easy answers and simple answers.

    I agree with you that we can’t rely on easy answers to tough questions. And like you mentioned, it’s particularly wrong to brush someone else’s suffering off with an pat answer. However, often the simplest, most profound truths have extraordinarily complex consequences, and so we can’t assume our lives will be simple and straightforward, based on a simple set of axioms we hold to be true. The implication is that it’s not wrong to turn to simple truths to explain the painfully complicated situations we find ourselves in. In fact, I think that’s often the only recourse we have, especially in the kind of situations you describe.

    I often rely on simple answers to understand disappointments in my life. Simple answers don’t minimize my struggles or suffering, but they change my perspective and give me a framework for understanding the craziness.

    Best of luck to you.

  3. 3.

    Yep, I have known more than one person who has an experience like this at the top of their list of things to ask God about if they ever get an audience with him. I haven’t personally had this experience (yet?) but I sympathize. I hope you find a way to deal. If so, let us know what it is.

  4. 4.

    I wrote an article on this topic for the New Era a few years ago. You might (or might not) find it helpful. FWIW, I’d answer the question a bit differently nowadays.

  5. 5.

    This may be a harsh answer and completely wrong. Sometimes, and this is definitely not always the case, but people’s own choices and mistakes can prevent certain promises being fulfilled in this life. For me, when I am faced with this question in my own life, I have to look at myself and really ask, “was this not fulfilled because of my actions?” Sometimes the answer has been emphatically, yes. And other times, I realize that I wasn’t at fault.
    Sometimes we interpret promises with our own expecations of what they mean, when its really our intrepretation that’s wrong. I don’t think its wrong to revisit promises in light of the eternities. After all, life certainly did not begin when we were born and it doesn’t end when we die.

  6. 6.

    I’m looking at my post after re-reading the original post and I think in light of that, my comment was kind of off-base.

    It’s hard when promises aren’t fulfilled the way we think they should or when we think it should come. It hurts and its hard not to lose faith. I like your point about not relying upon easy answers when faced with real dilemmas about promises being unfulfilled.

  7. 7.

    Aww, S. This is such a sad discussion.

    I have very few, if any, problem-resolving answers to offer. I think you’re right, though, to reject the simple answers, which often tend to be deus-ex-machina rewritings of the original emotions and beliefs in a way which can strip them of all meaning — like the cop-out ending to a story, “it was all a dream.”

    I don’t know what to do with unfulfilled promises, but I hope that you find some peace and solace in your own journey, however you choose to approach that question.

    And e-hugs to you, S. :)

  8. 8.

    I don’t have even a suggested answer, but I can confirm that your experience is a shared one. It’s especially distressing when you have a dramatic, seemingly unmistakeable experience that is fulfilled as promised, and a second virtually identical witness which is not. Not only are you left wondering what happened in the second case, but you also come to doubt the validity of the first case. How can you depend on God, or rely on the reality of a witness, or expect answers to future prayers? Yet somehow you do.

  9. 9.

    Ditto what Ardis said. I think so many people struggle with this – for a long time I just assumed that God was speaking to me but I lacked the capacity to understand what He was saying. It was an unsatisfying conclusion, though – and now I think there must be a different answer.

  10. 10.

    Interesting, and––for me––timely. I’m afraid that I have no answers here either, just lots of questions.

    Years ago, my parents had an experience like this, where certain things were promised in a blessing that did not come to pass. They have interpreted the experience by what seems like, to my mind, a tricky verbal loophole. (Seriously, if a similar loophole was exploited in a business setting, it would be hugely unethical, even possibly criminal.) In any case, this explanation has given my parents peace over the issue, and that experience was not mine, so I am not in a position to pass judgment.

    For my own similar experience, I cannot help but think sometimes, “Well, if one of my friends did this (or the equivalent) to me, I’d just think he was a jerk.”

    I like Ardis’ comment, but I don’t find myself in the same place regarding her last sentence. I wish I did.

  11. 11.

    I don’t know what to do about this either. There’s a great memoir published a few years ago by a woman named Kate Braestrup called Here if You Need Me. She was suddenly widowed and then became a universalist minister. Her story is fascinating and she has a section where talks about living with paradox. It really helps me to think about this idea that sometimes faith in God means living with the unexplainable. With being able to hold two things in our hands that don’t make sense and don’t fit together, but still feel his love. It’s hard to explain, but it made sense to me at the time. I have a lot of things in my life that don’t seem to fit and that don’t seem to have worked out like I thought they would, but I think sometimes i just have to pray for peace that I can live with paradox.

  12. 12.

    BrianJ, I think I’m in a similar place to the one you describe–I’m pretty much in constant conversation with God about this, and I feel very Job-like on some days. I think really what I’m hoping for at this point is some kind of explanation from God that will help me to put this behind me. However, I have a sense that it’s going to take a lot of time, prayer, and working through stuff before there’s even the possibility of that happening.

    RecessionCone, I appreciate your perspective. I think where I’m getting stuck is that my default “simple” answers tend to be “God loves me” and “trust God” (because no matter what else doesn’t make sense, things will turn out okay in the end if you trust Him and follow his guidance). I think I still believe the former, but the latter simple truth is on pretty shaky ground at the moment, and everything else is tumbling down as a result.

  13. 13.

    I don’t think we should rely on easy answers

    Though I’m not certain about relying on the hard ones either.

    I’ve been through this twice. I’m going to write about the second one first, which was dealing with Robin. She made it through the initial critical points where death is more likely than not and then died while in a “safe” period.

    I had just let myself relax because of things like you write about and I still have a vision of her at about five or six years of age, playing under a tree. That did not happen.

    What did happen is when I let myself relax I finally also let myself bond with her. She died immediately thereafter, as if she was holding on to life until she was bonded. For me, it made things much, much more painful. Without the assurances of the Spirit I’d have never let that gap close.

    On the other hand, without that, she would not have been as much a part of me.

    The other, well that is still playing out, amazingly, and I’m still not certain.

    sometimes faith in God means living with the unexplainable

    I like that. I really think that sometimes God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, God’s ways are not my ways. Job’s line about trusting God even if he slays him, that seems to be the bottom line.

    I’ve been through Latter-day Guy’s perspective in the past, and can appreciate it, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it is the one that brings us home or finds truth.

  14. 14.

    Jacob J, if I do find a way to deal, I’ll certainly let everyone know. (And if I’m not dealing so well, I’ll tell y’all that too, since I can only seem to blog about topics related to my current crisis of faith). :)

  15. 15.

    Seraphine, I hope you get that explanation, or at least that you get the “audience with God” that you desire. I’ll be reading….

  16. 16.

    Jana, thanks for the link–I’ve read that article before, and I think that kind of reinterpretation can happen in a way that doesn’t distort the original message/blessing (even though that might not be your current inclination). In my situation, the original message was too specific for me to find a reinterpretation that makes sense. Either God told me something that was incorrect, or I completely misunderstood God, or I attributed something to God that wasn’t from Him (and the message from him was so powerful that this latter interpretation scares me as much as the “God was wrong” interpretation does).

    Tiffany, thanks for the follow-up message.

    Kaimi, thanks for the wishes for peace and solace. Those things would be much, much welcome.

  17. 17.

    Ardis, what you’ve outlined is definitely one of the dilemmas I’m facing, but as Latter-Day Guy said, I’ve not yet reached the conclusion that you have–that somehow you learn how to trust God despite everything. Maybe that’s where I’ll end up, but I don’t think it’s a given at this point.

    galdralag, if you find that different answer, let me know. :)

    Latter-Day Guy, I haven’t yet called God a jerk, but I have told Him that I don’t think He’s being very nice. But why do we expect God to be nice? (I think some of my upcoming posts are going to be nature of God posts…)

  18. 18.

    FoxyJ, thanks for those thoughts. I especially like the sentiment “sometimes faith in God means living with the unexplainable.” I definitely believe this–I have lots of paradox and contradictions in my life, but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought to apply it to my personal relationship with God. I’ll have to think about this some more.

    Stephen, thanks for sharing your own experiences.

    BrianJ, thanks.

  19. 19.

    When I came up against issues like this it changed my relationship with God. In very painful ways I had to grow and separate myself some what. I had tried so hard to hold and do everything to feel and be worthy for his blessings and then that was ripped away. I realized I had been working under a false paradigm. Hard work and righteous desires=blessings. Well sometimes, but crap happens to a lot of people, things that just shouldn’t happen. Explanations are the worst thing during those times. For me I could only heal, or really learn to live with the loses and not have memories be painful, by acknowledging my true feelings. As I allowed my self to feel without judgment or expectation, I was able to figure out a way back to living. I don’t hold many absolutes anymore. I generally need to just feel loved from my Father in Heaven. I do know and feel that God is directly involved in my life at times and a love those moments. I just don’t expect it much.

    I can’t find the right words to express this, so I hope this makes sense. As I became more resilient and able to trust myself, I felt more able to trust and have hope in God again.

  20. 20.

    There was a period of time when my prayers were often centered around a specific question – whether we should move to a particular town. One day, while visiting this town, I was overcome with a very strong feeling of the spirit – beautiful, peaceful, loving. I felt like the air was thick around me with an almost tangible substance, like I was literally enveloped in God’s spirit. I was a little surprised – I hadn’t really expected this question to be answered with such a clear and immediate yes. I was humbled and grateful to feel that powerful connection with God.

    The next day, something came up that caused me to reinterpret that experience – my husband was asked to accept a leadership calling in our ward. I decided that the spirit had not answered my initial question with a yes; he was merely preparing me for this calling. I looked back at the answer I had received, and decided God must have been saying something like this: “I know you’re worried about this choice. Don’t worry; I have a plan for your family. Soon, you’ll know where you should be and why. I love you. I’m watching over you and I care about you. I’ll help you for the next few years while your husband’s busy, and you’re sitting by yourself in the pew with a whole row of teeny kids. I’m here for you.”

    Well, that was a big help to me at the time, but looking back now, I have to admit that allowing ourselves to interpret spiritual experiences with such fluidity makes them seem a little suspect. Like those newspaper horoscopes that everyone can relate to: “Seize the opportunity which presents itself today”. Everyone can point to something that seems to fulfill it – a job offer, a social invitation, or maybe a really good deal on canned peas at the grocery store. How much built-in ambiguity do we allow, just to make sure our spiritual experiences are always explained/fulfilled as our life plays out?

    Is it prideful for me to imagine that I could understand what God means as I feel him communicating with me? Am I trivializing those revelations when I smoosh them to fit subsequent events? A lot of scriptural interpretation over the years deals with similar issues, as people analyze and re-analyze the words of ancient prophets in light of later circumstances and events.

    I feel like I’ve been run over by a bulldozer in the past few years, too; it’s not fun. Maybe we can form a Flat Stanley support club. My heart goes out to you.

  21. 21.

    One thing that has helped me in times like this is remembering that God has given us all our agency, and sometimes things don’t work out like they should because of someone else’s choices. (Of course, this opens up the new can of worms that if God’s omniscient, why didn’t he know the other person was going to choose something else and therefore the promised blessings/experiences were never going to be a possibility.)

    Another thing that helped me is deciding what I needed to stay sane and get through the experience, and praying daily for that to happen. I wasn’t specifically praying for something I knew God didn’t want, but I didn’t ask his opinion, either. I evaluated and decided what I needed, and I prayed for that until I got it. If I hadn’t, things might have turned out differently. They might even have turned out better, but they’ve turned out pretty well regardless, so I can’t really regret the decision.

  22. 22.

    miles, thanks for your thoughts. It seems as if you’ve made a belief in God’s love for you your constant, but that in some ways you’ve become maybe not necessarily less trusting of God, but more apt to make decisions yourself? I can see myself potentially heading this direction, though I’m going to have to figure out to what extent this kind of relationship would work for me. I’ve spent a lot of my life being an independent self and not really consulting God, and many of my lessons have had to do with learning to trust His wisdom ahead of my own.

    While I am certainly confident in my ability to be independent and make my own decisions, I’m not sure to what extent that will involve letting God be a presence in my life. If I decide that more independence is the right path, I may decide on full independence. I guess I’ll have to see where my journey takes me.

  23. 23.

    How much built-in ambiguity do we allow, just to make sure our spiritual experiences are always explained/fulfilled as our life plays out? Is it prideful for me to imagine that I could understand what God means as I feel him communicating with me? Am I trivializing those revelations when I smoosh them to fit subsequent events?

    jane, these are really good questions and totally applicable to these kinds of situations. While one of the issues I’m sorting through is “how much do/should I trust God?”, the other big issues I’m going to have to sort through is, “to what extent do I trust my own ability to understand and interpret God’s messages?”

  24. 24.

    Vada, thanks for your thoughts. The agency thing is definitely applicable, but for me it becomes more applicable in specific situations. Let’s say that you’re wondering if you should pick strawberries on May 2nd with your friend Sarah. God says, “yes, you should,” but if Sarah doesn’t want to go, even it’s a good idea, you aren’t going to be able to do this. I’m totally in line with this. Things you *should* do aren’t always possible when another person’s agency is involved.

    I think things get trickier when God says “you will pick strawberries on May 2nd with Sarah.” In this case, Sarah still has her agency, but how do you trust a God that tells you something will happen and that thing doesn’t? This gets us to your point about omniscience. Does it mean he didn’t really know it wasn’t going to happen? Does it mean you heard him wrong? I don’t really know, but I don’t think saying that other people have agency resolves the contradiction between God saying “X will happen” and X not happening.

  25. 25.

    I’m having trouble understanding some of this. It sounds like it is about being mad at God and not trusting in God that he will take care of us even though we go through mortality. I have been a little mad at God , myself, and wondering what he could be thinking, but deep down I still had the faith that he knew what he was doing I guess.
    I can’t imagine the scenario where I truly knew I would pick berries with Sarah on May 2nd. Like your complaint that we tend to dismiss it or twist the situation, it is hard to me, when you describe that scenario, to not think that maybe God was saying I should prepare to pick berries with Sarah on May 2nd, or maybe that picking berries was the right thing for me to think, work on, plan on, or believe in whether or not it was going to actually happen, or something along those lines.
    The biggest thing perhaps now is that if we are so hung up on an answer we got in the past, are we listening to what he is trying to tell us now? Yes, my husband survived cancer years ago, but how long do I hold God to that promise? Yes, I have received insight and revelation about parenting my children through troubles, but I can’t assume the guidance I got 3 years ago is up to date. I need newer guidance based on the new situations in our lives. I don’t think it cancels out the old instructions, its just that the old instructions become irrelevant at some point.

  26. 26.

    Either God told me something that was incorrect, or I completely misunderstood God, or because of my context and the way I needed to go, the only understanding I had of what God was saying that got me going the right way was no where near as accurate as to details as I had assumed.

    Jane’s example I know you’re worried about this choice. Don’t worry which she worries makes things too fluid and I think makes an excellent example of what context does to us.

    I’ve written a number of times about how we extrapolate too much, how we limit the shape and the knowledge of our questions and understanding too much – – and how being mortal we can’t avoid doing it.

    I’ve spent a lot of my life being an independent self and not really consulting God, and many of my lessons have had to do with learning to trust His wisdom ahead of my own.

    I’m 53 and still working on that.

    Seraphine, my heart surely goes out to you, I wish I had better things to say — both for you and for myself.

  27. 27.

    I really appreciate jane’s comment (#20)–it helped me articulate my uneasiness with the standard, “well, you must have misinterpreted the revelation” response. Because, as she put so well, if we take whatever happens and interpret it as reflecting what the revelation actually meant, personal revelation becomes so vague as to be meaningless. It robs a powerful doctrine–the idea that we can individually go to God and get answers–of any real power, reducing it to something along the lines of “God is telling you something, but don’t presume you know what it is.”

    And I also have questions about the tendency to blame all miscommunication entirely on human fallibility. Not that I don’t think we’re fallible, certainly. But the situation does raise some difficult questions about God. To put it bluntly, why does an omnipotent God seem at times to be so deficient when it comes to basic communication skills? You might say, well, the problem is that we are so bad at hearing and understanding him. But we humans, with all our limitations and flaws, still manage to communicate with each other and often (if not always) get our message across. Why would God be more limited in this regard? Additionally, why would he not bother to correct our misinterpretations? If I knew that a friend was misunderstanding me, and misunderstanding me in a way that would really hurt her, I’d feel some obligation to clarify things. But it seems to me that frequently God opts to be deliberately ambiguous–and I struggle with that.

    JKS, I can appreciate that you can’t personally imagine the berry scenario. I honestly don’t know what I think about the kinds of messages God might give about the future, and how it interacts with agency, and all of that. But regardless, my view is that we owe it to each other to do our best to take other people’s religious experiences seriously, even if they seem improbable to us. My concern is that if we immediately jump to the conclusion “that couldn’t have been the message you got,” we risk trivializing the very real difficulties that come out of these kinds of experiences.

  28. 28.

    Why would God be more limited in this regard? Additionally, why would he not bother to correct our misinterpretations?

    I can’t speak for others, but in my own life, at least a number of times, it has been because I quit listening after I got what I thought was an answer or direction. A few times I kept asking and kept paying attention and listening and it was interesting that I got additional information.

    And a few times, nothing else would have gotten me going the direction I needed to go (and, in retrospect acknowledge I should have gone, and did go).

    Reminds me of Abraham telling Pharaoh that Sarah was his cousin/sister. The message, of course, that Pharaoh should have gotten was “I am someone you should respect, honor and not abuse.” Eventually that message was received. But just saying it would not have communicated it.

  29. 29.

    Sarah was Abraham’s half sister.

    Genesis 20:12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

    For what it’s worth–There’s something happening here…. (Cue Buffalo Springfield.)

  30. 30.

    Oops. Sorry, and his cousin, as well. So, Abraham told the truth.

  31. 31.

    Thanks, Seraphine & Lynnette & Stephen, for your responses.

    Like jks, I have a hard time imagining a revelation so precise and unambiguous as the situation Seraphine describes. All the times I’ve felt God’s presence in my life, there seems to have been some room (or the need, actually) for personal interpretation of the message. That makes things somewhat tricky for me, sometimes, but based on this post, and the prior post (Trusting God), I can see that seemingly clear and specific revelations can also cause trouble for the recipient.

    No solutions, just my best wishes. While all my spiritual experiences have left me still quite fuzzy on doctrine, God’s plan for my life, etc, one thing came across clearly and powerfully: God loves me. I hope you’ve felt that, too, and maybe that can be enough to get us through the awful, heart-breaking times. I hope that doesn’t seem trite; to me, it’s been a lifesaver.

  32. 32.

    Seraphine, I have been struggling for several years to interpret revelation that I received about a particular situation that ultimately did not resolve the way that I hoped (and interpreted the revelation to indicate that) it would. Here are a few thoughts about my experience, but they are just thoughts. I have not come to peace with it, and, to be honest, I have stopped actively trying to understand it because the emotions are too painful to deal with everyday.

    I found that it was much easier to forgive the other people involved in the situation for exercising their free agency in ways that hurt me. Presumably they were seeking spiritual guidance as well and may have received/interpreted their revelation in ways that contradicted the way I interpreted mine.

    Forgiving God has been much harder. If I assume that God is omniscient, then it seems very unfair that He would encourage me to pursue a course of action that He knew would result in so much pain. I have a hard time reconciling the knowledge that I have that God loves me with a God who would dangle a carrot in front of my face just to see what lengths I would take to get it and when satisfied with my sincerity would snatch the carrot away.

    Another possibility is that God loves me and wanted to teach me a lesson that would help develop greater empathy. Maybe the whole experience was pedagogical, and I am supposed to interpret it as a divine type just like we interpret Job’s suffering as a type for Christ’s patience or Abraham’s suffering as a type for Christ’s willingness to sacrifice. Even still the personal stakes seem too high and too unjust–but weren’t the Biblical consequences just as unfair? Were Job’s children slaughtered just so Job would experience loss? How did Isaac deal with the pain of betrayal when realized that his father would have sacrificed him? How did Sarah’s forgive Abraham? Is their pain just collateral damage so that Job could learn what it meant “to be despised and rejected” or that Abraham could learn what it meant to sacrifice his “only begotten son”?

    Another alternative is that God doesn’t always know what choices each of us are going to make, but instead He perceives windows of opportunities and possibilities that He may encourage individuals to pursue with the hope that certain outcomes will result, but He does not guarantee (or absolutely know) what the outcomes will be. This God gives us advice from his wider (but not omniscient) perspective, He mourns with us when things don’t turn out well, He promises us healing through the Atonement, and He is not a conspirator in the painful situation.

    None of these scenarios is a satisfying solution to the paradox. Right now I know that God loves me, I don’t understand the revelation that I received, and I will have to trust that someday I will receive more insight.

  33. 33.

    I don’t know, djinn–I’m not so convinced. Neither of the other versions of this story (Gen 12:10-20; 26:6-11) includes a note like that. It seems like the author of this account (E? a redactor?) was taking pains to deflect imputation of wrongdoing away from Abraham.

    As a sidenote, it’s pretty clear from Lev 18:9 that you shouldn’t be marrying a sister in any case, but of course the Ancestors violate later law right and left.

  34. 34.

    That’s just heartbreaking, Stephen. In all our discussions of faith it seems we never mention the obvious issue: by its very nature it’s a risk.

  35. 35.

    Kiskilili, I just looked up the appropriate verse in the Tanakh, and it doesn’t appear to be there. So, I’m wrong. Not to surprising. Sorry for the threadjack.

  36. 36.

    Heh–it’s in my Tanakh! :) Anyway, back to the topic at hand . . .

  37. 37.

    Well, I’ve got a two page draft post that responds to this thread. When I get it typed and uploaded, I’ll drop by and post a link.

  38. 38.

    I don’t know how relevant this is but when my husband was first diagnosed with cancer and everyone rallied around with hope and he refused to consider the possibility of death, I quickly got a very firm impression…more than once…that he was going to die. I resented it…it was nothing I could tell anyone. It isolated me and I had to pretend that everything would turn out ok even as the doctors were giving him a death sentence. But as events unfolded, I realized that I had better start dealing with reality and what needed to be done. When I put aside hope, I changed my focus. I made three requests which were realized and made a significant difference in the aftermath. It wasn’t until later that I realized that if I had gotten stuck in the mire of begging for something that wasn’t to be I never would have gotten down to the business of what could be. I also found that living with the Holy Ghost was too intensive a lifestyle to maintain forever but it was essential for receiving quick responses. Now I always have to compare those many months of spending every moment in some kind of communion with diety to my lazy attempts now. I do know that during the years when I was getting active and quick responses I was thinking of nothing else ever while I was trying to put in play everything I had learned at church about obedience…and that almost everything I was doing and asking for was really for others. It isn’t without guilt that I admit I like the lazy life with fewer answers.

  39. 39.

    Finished the essay: http://ethesis.blogspot.com/2009/04/trusting-god-in-spite-of-confusion.html

    Juliann, that was a very reflective post. I wish you well now.

  40. 40.

    As spirit beings having a mortal experience in a fallen world we inherit the legacy of the fall: we’re dead to things of the spirit. The scriptures even refer to us as enemies of God. And until we yield to the enticings of the Spirit we remain spiritually dead.

    I’m thankful I was born in a family where the gospel was available. I wasn’t born into the covenant, my father never joined the church and my mother was not active until her old age, but being born in Utah has its advantages (I’ve learned that my birth family and location are part of the Savior’s plan for me).

    As a young man I got entangled in the ways of the world. After awhile, my Friend came for me and loved me back to His church. As an “old man” now I look back over the years and realize what a wonderful Friend I have. I’ll give one example of how my Friend has been there for me (but in fact He has been with me in every major aspect of my life). I’m sharing this experience to draw attention to the ways of the Lord. Hopefully this will add to your faith and maybe you’ll be prompted to share an experience in the comment section that will be helpful to others.

    Nearly thirty years ago I was under-employed with a wife and children. I had bills, but lacked a viable job to support my family. Because of my covenants I decided to pay all my bills instead of trying to avoid them. I asked those I owed, to accept small monthly payments without charging me interest, and in turn I promised to pay them back over time. All of them agreed, and some even offered to forgive my debt. I thanked them, but said I would pay back everything I owed.

    During the next three years I prayerfully sought the Lords guidance. I worked in Real Estate (mortgage rates were over 10%) and opened a retail store. Each of these endeavors was slow financial death. One day my dad told me something that changed my course. I started to look in new directions based on his counsel. I applied for a position with a large company. After working with the recruiter for several months he told me he wanted to hire me, but was prevented from doing so because of hiring quotas . He said they had to hire some women and minorities before they could hire me. He said to call him sometime next year.

    I was very disappointed and told Heavenly Father how I felt. I wasn’t angry, but I was hurting badly and asked the Lord how long it would be before He answered my prayers. I explained I was doing everything I could, and pleaded with Him for help. The next morning I opened the newspaper and began looking at the help wanted ads. Suddenly, in a miraculous answer to prayer, while reading the newspaper, I was informed that I had a job!

    I closed the newspaper, picked up the phone and called the recruiter. I told him that I was ready to go to work when there was an opening. Again he explained that it could be a year or more before I could be hired. I told him I felt things would work out, and that I would look forward to hearing from him. Two weeks later he called and said he was completely blown away. He explained that he was able to hire me because the hiring quotas had been unexpectedly filled in another state. Shortly thereafter I took a position with the company.

    I’ve had many wondrous experiences with my Friend like this. He amazes me!

    As I’ve commented in various blogs in the Bloggernacle I’ve had a constant desire to tell others about my Friend and what He has done for me. I know many in the Bloggernacle have appreciated my straight forward honesty about things of the Spirit, however others have chided or ignored me, and a few have felt I was bragging or worse, deluded. I admit, I’m bragging. But not about myself, I know I am nothing, I’m bragging about my Friend, Jesus Christ. Who can say too much of His friendship?

  41. 41.

    Stephen, I don’t know anyone who can match your experience with tragedy so your conclusions carry much weight with me. I wouldn’t have thought of the iron rod but it seems very appropriate. As unsatisfying as it can be to just hold on without vision, I prefer it to the alternative of thinking there is no cosmic help and no hope. As inconvenient as religion can be at times, I cannot give that up.

  42. 42.

    It sounds like you really know that you don’t deserve what happened to you. Good. So, here’s a suggestion that my spiritual leader once gave. I don’t know if this is the sort of answer you’re looking for, but maybe it’s worth a try:

    Next time you’re praying, confront God squarely and show how angry you are. Make it clear that you know you don’t deserve this. Call God out on the unfulfilled promises and say how much pain it’s caused you. Really let God have it. Don’t leave anything out. Yell, if you can.

    You can make peace later, but it sounds like now is a time to be angry.

  43. 43.

    Dvorah, often God is surprisingly patient with us in our hurt, our anger and our pain.

    Juliann, thanks for your thoughts.

  44. 44.

    Stephen, thanks for the thoughts you wrote on your blog. I really appreciate the analogy of us being children. I think of how I try to communicate some things to my own children, and no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I want them to understand, sometimes they just don’t. It’s frustrating on both sides. I think it’s an interesting way to see God — as a parent who really wants us to understand what he’s saying, but just doesn’t know how to explain it to us in a way we’ll get, because our understanding just isn’t there yet.

    Also, I agree with Dvorah that it’s okay to tell God when you’re upset, hurt and angry. I think he can take it, and I think if it helps you feel better, he’d like you to get it off your chest.

  45. 45.

    JKS, I think that God more often than not sends vague/flexible messages (impressions about what we might do that might not happen, general feelings about what’s right, etc.), but every once in awhile, He gets specific. There have only been a couple times in my life when God has been very specific about what was going to happen in my life (the first time was when I got hit with a depressive episode, and God told me very directly that mental illness was something that I was going to have to deal with for a long time). There are scriptural examples of God being very specific–why could he not be specific in our lives?

    And my lack of trust has less to do with the pains of mortality and more to do with the fact that from my current perspective God seems to be contributing to my pains and being inconsistent. I’m currently withholding judgment, and I’m taking my issues to God to try and sort them out (and see what He wants me to do now), but the situation is not just me being upset at God about the pains of mortality.

  46. 46.

    Stephen (re #26), I’ve certainly been guilty of extrapolating before (i.e. seeing more in what God told me than was actually there). This time around, it’s hard for me to see how I’ve done this, but it does happen.

    Lynnette, interesting point about how God often seems to be deliberately ambiguous. I agree, and intellectually, it makes sense why he would do this (because of this, we have to spend a lot of time talking to Him, figuring out whether we’re really hearing the spirit or not, etc., and all of these things strengthen us and make us more in tune with Him). But sometimes it’s hard, especially when He seems to be doing things that from my perspective seem mean/contradictory/etc.

  47. 47.

    jane, it’s been more difficult to sense God’s love for me during this experience, but I have felt it on a few occasions. And I have felt it strongly in the past. You’re right that as confusing and upsetting as God’s messages seem to be, feeling His love is no small thing.

    Fideline, your own thoughts and struggles could have come directly from my own head. I could have typed this paragraph verbatim:

    Forgiving God has been much harder. If I assume that God is omniscient, then it seems very unfair that He would encourage me to pursue a course of action that He knew would result in so much pain. I have a hard time reconciling the knowledge that I have that God loves me with a God who would dangle a carrot in front of my face just to see what lengths I would take to get it and when satisfied with my sincerity would snatch the carrot away.

    Sorry you’ve had to deal with similar difficulties, and you’re right that none of the potential answers resolve the paradox. I hope eventually you can find some kind of peace and make some kind of sense of your experiences.

  48. 48.

    Juliann, thank-you for sharing your story. That must have been a hard answer to hear (specific answers can be really difficult)

    As I shared in one of my previous comments, I had a specific answer in the past that reminds me a bit of yours. When I first started dealing with depression and I was praying for God to help (because my life was falling apart), God basically said to me that He wasn’t going to make my difficulties go away, and that I would be dealing with them for a long time. While it was a difficult answer to hear, it was what I needed to take the steps I needed to in order to get myself back on the track to a healthy life.

    And your thoughts about putting aside the hope of what wasn’t going to be in order to focus on what could be are interesting. I’m not sure what to do with my hopes right now, so you’ve given me something to ponder.

  49. 49.

    Stephen, thanks for the link to your post. It’s given me some things to ponder.

    Dvorah, I wholeheartedly agree with your advice of being honest with God. I’ve actually spent a lot of time telling Him exactly what I think of the situation, yelling at Him, etc. But I actually had a conversation with Him recently where He helped me to see that while my anger makes sense given the circumstances, I need to spend some time setting it aside.

    I have a lot of really difficult things to figure out, and while I have to continue to work through my anger (I’m sure I will continue to have conversations with God where I tell Him exactly how I’m feeling), I also need to be able to set it aside because if there is understanding and answers to be had, constant anger is going to make it difficult for me to hear them.

  50. 50.

    My experience with things of the Spirit has taught me that if God seem a long ways off there is a reason. When I look back on my life on such occasions I realize I wasn’t doing all that I should have. I was compromising with the things of this world and yet wanted to have the things of the Spirit at the same time. The remedy for the absence of the Spirit was humility and repentance.

    However, I also need to mention that there have been times when the Lord was patient with me and I found access to His Spirit even when I was in need of repentance. I view those times as an invitation from a loving Father to repent and move forward.

    The Lord knows what we need and sometimes He will extend His Spirit to us when we’re in a state of sin. Others times He will withdraw His Spirit and wait for us to repent. Both ways work unless we decide to harden our hearts. Helaman 6:35-36

  51. 51.

    Dear Seraphine,

    I thought about responding to your last post about these issues that you linked to above, but ulitmately didn’t because I didn’t want to dredge up a lot of sad and painful memories. I have had experiences which seem, on the surface at least, to parallel what you’re going through, so I feel like I should at least describe the outlines of what I went through. I don’t know that anything I learned will be of use to you. Even all these years later, I still feel confused and unsure about the meaning and reason for events.

    Many years ago, I was single, attending university, working, etc. I met a man who became a close friend. After a time, I had a series of spiritual experiences that felt like I was being guided into a relationship with him. And those spiritual feelings were duplicated in the sense that I was attracted to him and falling in love with him. We ended up dating for a while, then he broke it off. After all this, I was searching for comfort and strength. I remember distinctly praying that I felt like I could marry him. It wasn’t me asking that we would marry, but just a comment. I think I could marry him. And in that moment, I felt a confirmation that I would marry him. It was very similar to an experience I had on my mission where I was telling God that I wanted to return to a Spanish speaking area again (I was in the US) and I had a confirmation that I would return. And, I did go to a Spanish area, to a place which would be the most beloved of my entire mission. The experiences were so similar that I believed that I simply had to have faith and that eventually, things would work out and we would marry.

    There are many scriptural precedents of beholding with the natural eyes what had previously only been seen with the eye of faith. Nephi and Lehi seeing the promised land in vision and then finally travelling there after many years toil and travail, Simeon and Anna seeing the Savior as an infant before they died as they had been promised, and many other examples. I took comfort and inspiration from these stories.

    As time passed on and the relationship with this man continued in (frustratingly for me) close friendship, I tried to obtain continued revelation that I was still on the right path, that I still needed to just have faith, and that things would work out. I wanted more confirmation because it was hard to see no progress in the relationship.

    Long story short. This went on for a long time. Ultimately, in a painful confrontation, I demanded a flat out statement from him that there was no way anything could happen between us so that I could release myself from the bond I felt to him and move on with my life. My trust in God eroded and I questioned my ability to understand revelation from Him. Long after the incident ended, I still wondered and felt confusion and pain about how the entire thing played out.

    Things that I learned at various points during this incident.

    The story of Moses and the children of Israel tiring of the manna and demanding meat had resonance with me. They then were showered with bird of some kind (I think), so much, overwhelming much. Didn’t they get sick? I can’t remember the details. This and the story of the lost 116 translated pages of the BofM. Joseph asked and asked and finally the Lord gave permission for Martin Harris to take the pages. I demanded and demanded (not in the first instances, but afterwards) and finally God gave me what I asked for. Question: why does God give us something that we ask for if it’s not best for us? Is it just to teach us a lesson?

    Someone has already brought up the idea of agency. Looking back, I have thought that perhaps God was telling me that I could marry him, that it would be a good thing for me, but not that I would marry him. This man would have to have similar feelings and God wouldn’t force him to feel that. I had to respect his agency. Later on, I discovered the theological debates over the foreknowledge of God and free will vs determinism. I have had conversations with some people who have compellingly argued that God does not have perfect omniscience of the future because if he did, then free will would not exist. The initial idea came up in gospel doctrine class in Jacob’s allegory of the vineyard where the servant changes God’s mind and persuades him to wait a bit longer before destroying the vineyard. I asked the teacher if God could change his mind, and that opened up a whole can of worms. I don’t have a lot of certainty about these issues, but it has caused me to doubt my previous understanding of God.

    I guess another thing I’ve learned is that there are many good paths my life can take. Something that is good, even divinely good, might not happen, but there are other paths that can help me reach my divine potential. It’s not that there is just one way to get there, and if I’m righteous and do all I can, I was be guaranteed to travel on this one path.

    Looking back, I can see that this incident has put a damper on my ability to have faith and trust and I have become more cynical as a result. I know that this change in me was not inevitable, but it’s been hard to have that unsullied and pure faith that I had before.

    If there’s anything at all that I can do to help you through this difficult time, I would. I think back on those years as being so dark and painful. I felt like I was on a cosmic wild goose chase and my very foundations were shaken.

  52. 52.

    Jared, perhaps you didn’t intend this, but your comment implies that I’m in a sinful state and need to repent in order for everything to work out in my current situation. As I stated in my original post, I think this kind of response is ungenerous and too simplistic, and doesn’t really address the paradoxes I’m facing.

  53. 53.

    Michelle, thanks for your thoughts and kind words. I realize that no one has any easy answers for what I’m facing (and what others have faced), and I’m sorry my posts have pulled up sad and painful memories for you. If it means anything to you, it does help *me* to know that I’m not alone and that others have dealt with similar situations.

  54. 54.

    Seraphine–

    I have no idea what will ultimately be the answer for you. I am speaking from my experience and hoping that might be helpful to you and any who read this post.

    I define a sinful state broadly. At times it can be something as simple as not reading the scriptures and praying as we should. At other times it would include more serious sin.

    However, I generally find that the absence of the Spirit has more to do with the state my heart is in: hard and resistant vs. softened and teachable.

    The key to obtaining the Spirit for me has been to find a way to change my heart from hard to soft. Fasting and prayer has been successful for me. I believe all the solutions for Spiritual anemia can be found in the scriptures and in the teachings of the prophets. The solution for me have always been simple. The difficult part has been to admitting I was looking for solution in all the wrong places. After coming to that realization things starting working out.

  55. 55.

    Jared, given that you’ve found the scriptures such an unfailing source of inspiration and guidance, perhaps you might find it instructive to review the Book of Job, with special attention to the ultimate fate of Job’s comforters.

  56. 56.

    Eve, I don’t recall the ultimate fate of the comforters, though I do remember them being chewed out by God.

    Michelle, I found your post very moving.

  57. 57.

    Eve–

    I don’t know why you would compare my comments to that of Job’s comforters.

  58. 58.

    I’ve been reading this blog off and on for the last several months, and I want to comment on this post, I wish I could give you just a perfect answer, my heart goes out to you. I have a husband who suffers from deep depression and anxiety, he also has an addictive personality which has caused him problems with alchohol and later precription meds. When I first met him he was a heavy drinker but we set a goal to be sealed in the temple, he was finally able to conquer this hurdle. I received my patriarchal blessing which encouraged us to be sealed in the temple, to put my family first and make nothing more important, I was also promised that I would live a very comfortable life so I would be able to share with those more in need. 10 years after that blessing has been given my sweet husband has lost 2 jobs (I’m sure it had to do with overmedication) and we are barely keeping our heads above our debts. He is struggling with his addiction and it came to a point where I left him for a while, and while I was gone he was hospitalized because his mom couldn’t wake him up one morning. It has left me to wonder what constitutes the word “family”, do I stand by this man while he destroys himself or could possibly harm someone else (he has already been arrested for a DUI). I still struggle with this, but one thing I am aware of is that Heavenly Father is very mindful of him, and loves him very much. Looking back I can see how things could have been so much worse, and I can see my blessings. I have told you what was in my blessing but I read his, and it clearly states in his that he was going to suffer many trials, does this seem fair? only God knows. I have wasted so many years wondering when my wealth would come in or when my husband would stop acting the way he has been. But I worry less about that…if it comes it comes. From this I have learned more emapthy for those who deal with addictions, with depression. I have learned that my husbands mental illness won’t ever go away, and that’s ok. He has come to terms that he has a problem and after 9 years he has agreed to go see an addiction therapist. 9 years is a long time, and I don’t know if this is going to change anything, but I can hope. I have a quote from Jeffrey R Holland on my fridge “God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future (that sounds pretty grim and stoic); He expects you to embrace and shape the future-to love it and rejoice in it and delight in you opportunities. God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short He can’t if you don’t believe.”‘
    My life is certainly different than what I have expected, and I am glad that I don’t know the future! another quote from my fridge of knowledge and then I’ll let you go. “It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us….if we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.” President Hinckley

  59. 59.

    and if there is anything that can be learned from the super divas duo of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, “there can be miracles when you believe!” Have a wonderful day!!!

  60. 60.

    p.s. I didn’t make it clear, but I received my patriarchal blessing after my husband and I were married.

  61. 61.

    Reading some of these wrenching, heartbreaking experiences has made me think again about one of the aspects of Christian teaching that I’ve often found a bit odd–the command to believe. Avoid doubt, we are told again and again–as in the recent Conference talk involving five (?) deadly D’s. And yet it’s this wholehearted, sincere belief–the kind we are continually encouraged to have–that has the potential to lead to so much pain. I’m reminded of Kiskilil’s comment on a recent thread that it was in fact her belief (not her doubt) that led to such spiritual devastation. Sometimes it seems to me that a strong dose of skepticism is necessary for spiritual survival. I definitely think that with regard to the Church, which is of course constituted of fallible human beings. But it’s rather unsettling to think that it might be important as well in our relation to God. What that does mean? I have no idea. But it certainly complicates the ways in which we talk about belief and doubt.

  62. 62.

    #55 Eve

    Please don’t misunderstand my intent. I am interested in understanding why you brought up Job’s comforters in response to my comments. I saw my comments in terms of what is taught in Mosiah 18:

    …willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light…

    …willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places…

    I’ve been striving to live the doctrine of Christ for over forty years and have learned in that time, that the Lord keeps His promises. I’ve also learned that church leaders, including patriarchs, make mistakes. There are many paradoxes to be dealt with and sometimes there are no answers to them other than to wait on the Lord. When I have been faithful (not perfectly so, but kept plugging along) in trials (paradoxes) the Lord has provided me with miracles on more than one occasion to let me know that He is mindful of me and is my friend. Sometimes it has taken years of bearing crushing challenges to realize the miracles, but they have always come. I believe this can be true for all of us if we don’t allow our hearts to hardened when we’re in the crucible of affliction.

  63. 63.

    Jared, I don’t know if I can explain this in a way that makes sense. But when someone posts about a spiritual problem, and you come by to mention that in your own life, that kind of problem has always been a result of sin, it sends an implicit message. I’m not saying that you’re intending it that way–I have no reason to doubt you when you say that you’re just talking about your own experience, and that’s what you’re intending to contribute. But in the context of a discussion like this, I think such messages tend to come across as sounding like a suggestion that those who haven’t had the experiences you’ve personally had must be spiritually deficient in some way.

    I suspect that some of us (at least, I am) are a bit sensitive to this kind of thing, because an unfortunately common response when people share spiritual struggles is to look for what they’re doing wrong and propose solutions. In response to the last paragraph of your #40, my concern isn’t that you’re bragging; I enjoy hearing about people’s positive spiritual experiences. But I also think there are some situations that are better for sharing them; for example, if someone posts about the pain of infertility, it might not be the best moment to come by and share how blessed you feel that God has trusted you with children–even if that really is your experience. And I recognize that I could be misreading your intent, but in the course of various discussions with you, I’ve often found that your comments sound to me like a chastisement of those who haven’t had the experiences that you’ve had.

    I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m jumping on you. But you sound sincerely confused, and I wanted to try to explain where I (and, I suspect, others of my co-bloogers, though I obviously can’t speak for them) might be coming from.

    (Okay, I wrote this before I saw your last comment, and I appreciate that–I think it helps me better understand what you’re trying to do.)

  64. 64.

    C, thanks for sharing your own difficult experience. I really like the Holland quote you shared as well, though as Lynnette pointed out, my recent difficulties seem to be stemming from my beliefs (rather than my doubts).

  65. 65.

    C, have you read the Al Anon literature? It has given me comfort and I’m not dealing with an alcoholic or an addict. I don’t know if it would help you the same way, but I’d recommend it generally.

  66. 66.

    Thanks Stephen, I went onling to look up Al Anon and it looks like something that could really help me. Seraphine thanks for your posts, I hope you find the answers that will help you most.

  67. 67.

    Lynnette–

    I’ve been thinking about the comments above (#52,55,63), and don’t want to say anything to create difficulty, but I want to say–as kindly as I can, that I’ve carefully read your comment policy and thought I was well within its guidelines.

    I came here with the idea of sharing a few experiences with the hope of encouraging those who have unfulfilled promises. I was made to feel unwelcomed. Each time I have commented here I have been criticized or ignored by the author of the post.

    It seems to me this stems from the fact that the scriptures don’t appear to have a place of honor by those who post. This explains why the first principles of the gospel are absent and in there stead is philosophy and ethical & moral principles.

    I wonder if this is a conscience decision? You said I was confused. I admit I am. I’m confused by the lack of doctrine and testimony in a blog that reports to be for believing LDS.

    I wish we could have this discussion in person then you’d know I am sincere.

    If you really don’t want the scriptures, doctrine, and prophets included in your blog–why not clearly say so?

  68. 68.

    Jared, thank you for reading our comment policy and for coming here sincerely with the intent to be helpful and inspirational.

    That being said, I don’t think our responses to you have to do with the fact that you are including scriptures, doctrine, etc. in your responses. You’re right that, for the most part, we are believing LDS bloggers, and things like scriptures are important to us.

    I think the biggest issue is that we seem to be talking past one another. When we say that your responses imply that we are spiritually deficient, you think that we don’t want to hear messages from the scriptures (when really we’re reacting to how *you* are communicating your message). At the same time, when we respond the way we do, you feel unwelcome on the blog, when we’re just trying to explain why we struggle with knowing how to respond to you.

    Overall, here’s what I think Lynnette was trying to say: We are believing LDS, but we also have a lot of questions and struggles, and this blog is where we explore a lot of those struggles. While faith needs to be part of the conversation, most of us get the standard instructions to read the scriptures, pray, listen to the prophets, have more faith, repent, etc., when we go to church, and so on our blog we tend to be looking to have honest conversations about how we still struggle (and how to deal with our struggles) even when we are obeying the commandments.

  69. 69.

    Hi Jared,

    First of all, I am genuinely sorry you’ve had such a negative experience on our blog. We might be a bunch of heathens who don’t sufficiently honor the scriptures ;) , but we do usually try (sometimes more successfully than others) to be civil, to keep the tone here friendly.

    That said, I do want to be clear that comments which make accusations regarding the faithfulness of our blog (e.g., telling us that we’re neglecting the first principles of the gospel and have no interest in the prophets) are over the line. This really isn’t the place to debate the merits of people’s testimonies.

    At this point, I’m not sure what else to say, because I feel like we’ve had conversations like this on multiple threads, and we just seem to be talking past each other. Like Seraphine, I see an important difference between objecting to the ways in which people use the scriptures (or testimony or prophets), and objecting to the scriptures themselves. But I think that’s maybe where the communication is breaking down.

    I think an important aspect of participating in blog conversations is getting some kind of feel for the norms of the community, and I’m wondering if that’s part of the reason why we’ve had so many misunderstandings. Around here, we like to engage in intellectual reflection on religious questions–and we don’t see that as being in opposition to faith. Sometimes we just want to talk about frustrations and feel heard. Sometimes we just want to goof off. And we tend to have a low tolerance for comments which seem to be aimed at fixing us. I realize our approach isn’t for everyone, and I’m fine with that. But I will say that in my view, faith can be expressed in a wide variety of forms—and just because it’s not always articulated in conventional language, in traditional testimony-bearing types of narratives, doesn’t mean it’s not there, or that the participants are outside the scope of “believing LDS.”

    For what it’s worth, I don’t doubt your sincerity, and I appreciate that your intent is to be helpful. I know I’m probably sounding a bit defensive in this comment, but I would hope that if we talked in person, you’d get some sense of our sincerity as well.

  70. 70.

    Seraphine and Lynnette,

    I appreciate the fact that we had an honest exchange. I’m trying not to make judgments with the idea of putting someone down (Dallin Oaks Judge Not’ and Judging,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 7).

    I am trying to encourage those who blog to have fun blogging, but at the same time do what it takes to acquire the gift of the Holy Ghost and keep it. This is really the bottom line.

    I’ve made a real commitment to do this and I am anxious to let others know it works.

    Each of us can get to the point where the championship of the Spirit is the greatest reality of our lives. The difference from rare experiences with the Spirit, and almost daily experiences is found in our “desires”. What do we really want. When I decided to put in a genuine effort in acquiring the Spirit things started happening. I have a burning in my bones to communicate this to other LDS. I am trying to find a way to do this without offending others. It’s more difficult to do than one might think.

    I’ve read your profiles and I have admiration for you and only wish you the best. I’ve made a few observations with the idea of encouraging you to even do better. All of us can.

  71. 71.

    Jared,

    I’m glad that you’ve found the gift of the Holy Ghost so powerful and meaningful in your own life. I don’t think anyone doubts your sincerity in attempting to share your discovery with us here. The problem is, though, that you’re not simply sharing your own experience; you’re implicitly passing judgment on Seraphine’s righteousness in assuming that she maintains an insufficient communion with the Spirit–less than you yourself maintain. There’s simply no way you can know that about her. That’s a kind of judgment that none of us is authorized to make about another, particularly based on the very slight acquaintance provided by online interaction. It’s also a judgment that tends to lead to bad feeling and misunderstanding, which is one of the reasons it’s against our comment policy.

    I’ve made a few observations with the idea of encouraging you to even do better. All of us can.

    Certainly we can all improve. But ways we might improve our blog isn’t the topic of this thread. Seraphine has posed some interesting and very difficult questions; perhaps we could keep further discussion focused on issues related to those questions.

  72. 72.

    Eve,

    My desire is to encourage. I’m not judging in the way you think I am. I’m hoping for a good outcome.

    I don’t think there is anything else to add, so I’ll just let what’s been said stand, and move on.

  73. 73.

    Ah, the blessed moderation queue. Truly a divinely inspired technological breakthrough.

  74. 74.

    True, that. And yet we must ever struggle with the question of what it means to preside righteously over our blog, avoiding the temptation to give in to unrighteous dominion as we exercise the power of the moderation queue with which we have been so richly blessed. For if we use that power wrongly, to cover our blogging faults and gratify our endless desire to intellectualize the gospel, will that result in a resounding Amen to our moderating authority?

  75. 75.

    […] summer I realized that for all the intellectual confusion I’ve had about God this past year, my main problem was relationship difficulties—I hit a point where I didn’t want a relationship […]

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