Zelophehad’s Daughters

At a Crossroads

Posted by Seraphine

I’m still exercising my particle of faith, but recently I’ve been thinking through the implications of what happens if the exercising of my faith doesn’t provide me with the answers and reassurance from God that I need.

This is a very real possibility. If there’s nothing else that the past year has taught me it’s that God has His own purposes, and congruently, what you think you need is not necessarily something that God will provide. There is no guarantee that a month from now or six months from now, my experiences from the past year are going to come to any kind of resolution. And I’ve been trying to think through what I will choose to do then, and I’ve recently realized that I think there’s a strong possibility I will choose to leave the Mormon church.

My participation in the Mormon church hinges on my trust in God. I have my disagreements with the church. It causes me a lot of angst, and I struggle how to reconcile it with certain inner convictions, especially those related to my beliefs about my place in the world as a woman. I have struggled with my choice to remain a member of this church, but I have also been immensely blessed by making that choice. I believe that in my life, up to this point, being a Mormon is what God has wanted me to do, that it has made me a better and stronger person, and that it has richly blessed my life.

But right now I’m at a crossroads. I’ve recently realized that if there is no way for me to make sense of what’s happened this past year, I don’t think I can stay a Mormon and remain sane. It’s not that I don’t value my religious beliefs and membership, because I do, immensely. But I honestly don’t think I can negotiate the difficulties I know I will continue to face being a member of this church without being able to rely on a God who will help me figure out how to negotiate them. And right now I don’t know how to rely on God.

Moreover, trying to figure out and do God’s will this past year has caused me more pain and confusion in my life than pretty much anything else I have ever experienced. If I can’t find any answers or peace, how am I going to respond next time I feel like God is trying to tell me to do something. Will I obey? Will I run in the other direction? Will I decide it’s not God talking to me?

I think the most likely possibility is that I will go back to my default: I will rely on myself and only myself to negotiate difficulties and decisions, and I just don’t think that kind of decision-making process is workable long-term in a religion where the ultimate act of devotion is to submit your whole being, free will and all, to God.

And here’s where I’m currently stuck. I want this act of submission to work in my life–I believe in giving myself over to a higher being who can shape me and mold me into a better version of myself, one that I can’t even begin to imagine. And maybe my current experiences are part of that process–I am still holding onto my particle of faith. At the same time, while I know this process is hard and not for the faint of heart, I have to be able to preserve a certain amount of sanity.

I cannot spend months and years doing what I believe is God’s will, end up in intense emotional pain, and accept this state as the place God wishes me to be. There are many things I’m willing to keep open and in tension, but if things aren’t mostly right between me and God personally, it will rip me to shreds. If God will not heal my heart (because right now I still believe He can), I will have to find healing on my own terms.

43 Responses to “At a Crossroads”

  1. 1.

    Seraphine, you have my total sympathy.

    I don’t think anyone can sensibly give you advice on something like this, of course. So here’s some possibly non-sensible semi-advice: don’t read comments to this post! They almost certainly can’t go to any good place…

  2. 2.

    Seraphine, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for your struggles and hope whatever you decide to do that you are able to find peace.

  3. 3.

    Hey, Seraphine, I’m sorry to hear things are so hard.

    I just don’t think that kind of decision-making process is workable long-term in a religion where the ultimate act of devotion is to submit your whole being, free will and all, to God….I want this act of submission to work in my life–I believe in giving myself over to a higher being who can shape me and mold me into a better version of myself, one that I can’t even begin to imagine.

    Personally, I can’t figure this issue of complete submission to God out either. The specifics of my case are somewhat different, but as you say, it comes to a matter of trust. How can I surrender my will to a God who’s violated my trust? Do I salvage my trust in God by reconstituting God in my own image of trustworthiness? Appealing, but problematic; the risk is that I’m imagining up unto myself a God who confirms what I already think and already want to do. Or do I give up trusting God? Or (in my case) do I just continue to muddle along somehow, suspended between trust and doubt?

    Very best wishes to you as you try to come to terms with these difficult issues.

  4. 4.

    Is this a declaration to the World Wide Web or a request for someone to help you see things differently? If it’s the latter, then maybe what I have to say can help.

    I stumbled on this article because I clicked on this link (intended for my wife, I guess: http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/) I saw the preview for this and clicked to read the rest.

    I have felt this same way before. I can relate. Perhaps sharing my conclusions will be of some use to you.

    After noting how following the commandments weren’t bringing me any extraordinary blessings (riches, fame, or even major success in school, work, marriage, etc.), I was talking to my friend who was not LDS, and it dawned on me. He (at age 32) had been through two marriages; his old girlfriend had snuck out and had gotten an abortion at age 17; he had two children that he was paying child support for; his parents were going through a divorce over pornography and alcohol-related issues; he had lost a few jobs along the way due to alcohol and porn; he contracted sexually transmitted diseases; and his ex-wife was now addicted to cocaine (as a result, accidentally exposed her two-year-old to the drugs one day due to her impaired judgment – he overdosed and nearly died). Just looking at him, you couldn’t know that this was his life because he lives in a big house, is married, and has four children living with him (two from his wife’s former marriage), and owns a few nice cars.

    A snapshot does not provide an accurate picture of his struggles – or of anyone’s struggles for that matter. I had been focused on the snapshot image of his life rather than on the entire life story.

    As I laid awake thinking about this, I realized that what I desired as blessings weren’t just or inline with God’s will. Selfish and lustful desires had clouded my judgement and had nearly impeded my ability to thrive as a good member of the church. It was honestly temptation towards sin drawing me away – causing their to be a gap between my will and the expected will of a good member of the church.

    Because I (and my wife) have been diligent in the past in following the commandments, my children don’t float from a weekday home to a weekend home; my children are healthy and unexposed to drugs or abuse; I have no venereal diseases; I have no serious addictions (right now, my big one is my addiction to white bread – which I will eventually overcome); and, I don’t have to worry about my dirty habits getting in the way of my job.

    I noted all of these blessings and escapes from grave punishments, and realized how well off I was even in that one aspect of my life due to following God’s will – which didn’t always bring immediate or short-term gratification or satisfaction.

    In the same way that following these few commandments (avoiding pornography, extra or pre-marital sex, and alcohol) has protected me from my friend’s strife and fate, going to the temple, studying gospel topics and scriptures, paying tithing, having family home evening, attending and participating in church activities have blessed me with the following:

    + A sound marriage
    + Knowledge and testimony of a purpose that functions beyond the bounds of my mortal life
    + Happier children
    + My college education
    + Freedom from needless stress
    + All of the experiences associated with serving a full-time mission
    + Clean, honest, and dependable friends
    + A good reputation
    + A closer relationship with God
    + Comfort knowing that what I am doing pleases God, and that I am worthy to be called on if He needs me for anything

    …and more. So, I’ll leave you with this advice. Set aside your selfish or lustful desires; throw off your bad habits or addictions; and, change your heart so that you can find joy and happiness in the blessings that the Lord sees fit to provide for you. Everybody serves as an example or a role model to people who desire the same results. Try to serve as a good example to people who look up to you. Lose yourself in the joy of service and family. People not only will look to you as an example, but will also measure their own strength and abilities from that example.

    I know God is real. I have received a witness that Joseph Smith is a true and inspired prophet of God. I accept Christ as my Saviour. I have pledged myself to do God’s will and to serve in His church regardless of the blessings or punishments that I receive from this world as a result. Although I don’t always see or feel constant blessings from living the gospel, I am very grateful for the ones that I do recognize.

    Hopefully, you and others who have experienced our same dilemma/conflict of ideals will choose to remember your/their baptismal covenants (see Mosiah 18) and might follow the instructions found here: Mosiah 3:19. When your heart is changed and you can experience the joy in the gospel, and when you desire it above other worldly blessings, you can know that you have been converted to the gospel. If you haven’t experienced that change yet, please continue to try. It’s more than going through the procedures, rites, and other motions – it’s about throwing yourself into it and desiring it above all other things in this world.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings about this topic. I hope that you can arrive at the same conclusion.

    Sincerely,

    Joeyslaptop

  5. 5.

    Thanks, J and Kevin. Your kind thoughts are appreciated.

    And J, while there have been commenters who have driven me a little crazy as I’ve shared my recent experiences (and I’m sure there will be some on this thread), for the most part, people have been amazingly supportive and honest about their own struggles. It’s really helped me a lot.

    Eve, your question, “how can I surrender my will to a God who’s violated my trust?” is the question I’m currently grappling with. It really has no easy answer. I guess right now I’m hoping to find a way to reimagine God as a God I can trust without having to do any mental gymnastics. But this is going to take some intervention from Him that I’m not sure He will provide.

  6. 6.

    Seraphine,

    Sometimes you need to hit the reset button. I spent over a decade outside the church. I’ve long believed that was necessary for me. I’m not recommending exactly that, I’m just saying. Sometimes you need to start over from scratch.

    I’d concentrate on only a handful of things. Start with the very first thing: Jesus. Read His life, in the New Testament. Baptismal covenants. The Sermon on the Mount. I’d go read the Sermon on the Mount right through to its final important verses.

    When I think of submitting to God, I think of the Sermon on the Mount, and the very real, almost impossible, difficulty of it. I think of the man who God wants me to be, and the distance between that and the man I might choose to be. It is really only in the last few years that those two men are anything like the same thing. And I am not that man, but I can see the outline of him up ahead. I’ve had to smacked around quite a lot – and I suppose that there was no guarantee that when I walked away I would ever walk back. But I’ve had angels minister to me since then.

    I wish you the very very best. ~

  7. 7.

    This is how I gave up. I can’t bear to have faith in an apparently faithless God and hold on to my sanity.

  8. 8.

    I do hope you’re able to come to some kind of resolution, Seraphine, whether it means you’re in the Church or out of it.

    Kiskilili, reading Seraphine’s post made me think of you and your experience too. I think it seems really backwards when the truly devoted like the two of you are most deeply hurt, and the more wishy-washy like me can more easily hang on. (I think Hellmut and Jana made similar points recently in a discussion at Mind on Fire.)

  9. 9.

    I believe that no one really knows what God is like, that is, everyone has an incomplete understanding. So maybe when I feel God can’t be trusted, it’s someone else’s version of God that is untrusthworthy, not the real God. So I remake God a little bit to be someone I can trust. I think there is absolute truth in the universe, but it’s hard if not impossible to fully know it, so why should my understanding of God be less legitimate than a church authority’s? If God communicates with us at all through the holy spirit, then we can trust our own feelings. Whether or not they perfectly align with the Mormon consensus doesn’t matter to me.

    I hope you’ll stay, Seraphine, for selfish reasons. I want to belong to a church with honest and sensitive people like you in it.

  10. 10.

    Emily U:

    Thank you so much for your insight on re-making God; that’s just what I needed. It has buoyed me up as I have been on a similar path as Seraphine for more than a year. This gives me something new to try.

    Seraphine:

    I don’t have any advice, only the deepest empathy as I have read and somewhat followed your blog posts during the past year. The measures of peace I used to get from the church, the gospel, and belonging became smaller and smaller and are almost gone now as I have struggled. I empathize greatly with the need to be sane and at peace with what goes on in one’s life. I got to the point of feeling pain so deeply over the struggle that I sought emotional therapy to see if there was something emotionally or physically wrong with me. Alas, there was not, and I’m still in the struggle. My one and only tie to the Divine now is religious music, which I cannot give up, so I remain in the Church to participate in religous music.

  11. 11.

    Hi Seraphine,

    Thank you for the honesty with which you wrote this post. Obviously many of us can relate in some way to your situation. I just wanted to interject an idea if I may…I’m sure I’m not the first to say it, but what if what you personally reason out and think to be the best course of action in making a decision, is actually the same as what God would advise you, meaning your own sense of logic and spirituality combined are somehow connected to God, more than you might imagine?

    I really believe that when we think things through, using our brains and hearts combined, we can come to the same solution that God would if he were to talk directly into our ears. Essentially, my philosophy is that when you trust YOURSELF, you are trusting God. I’m sure there are many who would disagree with me on this, arguing that we are inherently sinful creatures, far removed from God, but that is not my belief. Although I’m guessing we’ve all know those peeps in wards or what not that were always saying how God inspired them to do such and such, and then you look at that person and can see that they are, well, a bit looney, and that God is not the one telling them to do such and such…I know that can be read a myriad of ways, depending on who’s calling who crazy. Of course we all have our own pyschoses that can get in the way of what we think is the right decision, but I guess in my opinion the big difference is self awareness. And you seem like a very self aware, intelligent, thoughtful individual. So my only thought is learn to trust yourself more, and that you are more inline with God’s will through that method than you might think. As I have applied this in my own life over the past few years I feel like there has been so much more dimension and richness added to my spiritual life, I cannot even describe. I just don’t think that God is as far away as we might think. So many times we are praying and just begging for God to manifest (him?) self to us, when in fact he is all around, right inside of us, and in everyone around us. I think we as Mormons have a tendency to make it too complicated, and it hurts us in the end. This mentality I am speaking of is hard to maintain in a mormon context, it’s true.

  12. 12.

    Thomas, I’m not sure yet if I need to hit the reset button–it hasn’t gotten to that point yet–but I do think that it can be necessary for people to do this sometimes. Thanks for your advice–I’m trying to figure out the basics that I do believe right now, and I’ll put the Sermon on the Mount on my reading list.

    Kiskilili, I have thought of you on occasion as I’ve been dealing with my struggles. While I know the precise experience that prompted your pain was different from my own, I can read back through your posts/comments about feeling betrayed by God, and it all makes so much emotional sense to me. I hope that you are finding some peace.

  13. 13.

    Ziff, thanks. And I do think that you (and Jana and Hellmut) have an interesting point–while I am certainly not perfect, and while I’ve struggled with a lot of doubts and questions, part of my problem is that I honestly don’t know how to *not* believe in God. Believing in Him and trying to learn to do His will has been really central to my life for a long time, and now this has messed everything up, and I’m not sure what to do with it all.

    I’m not sure exactly where I’ll end up in the end, though I do know that if my journey takes me out of the Mormon church, it will take me into another faith tradition. Like I said, I don’t think not believing in God is a serious option for me.

  14. 14.

    Emily U, I am in total and complete agreement. And your comments are actually why I’ve had less angst and heartache than some of my fellow bloggers about stuff in the church that drives me crazy (i.e. the temple is difficult for me, but it didn’t feel like a betrayal to me in the way that it did to Kiskilili).

    My problem right now, though, is that I’m feeling betrayed by God in the context of my individual relationship with Him (not in the context of Mormonism). As a result, I can’t trust the spirit or my feelings right now.

    Here’s another way of saying it: I’m not considering leaving the church because the church because God has betrayed my trust through the institution. Instead, I’m considering leaving the church because God has betrayed my trust (from my perspective) in my direct, prayerful interactions with Him. And I can’t be okay with institutional stuff if I’m not okay with God one-on-one.

    Thank-you for your kind thoughts, though. I, too, am hoping to find a way to stay.

  15. 15.

    KevinR, I’m sorry that you’ve had a similarly difficult journey recently. I hope that you find some peace.

    Jen G, those are some interesting thoughts. In the past, I’ve actually pretty comfortable relying on my own awareness and decisions. The problem is that one of the lessons God has taught me in the past is that there are times when He does know better than I do, and there are times when I need to listen to Him rather than to my own inclinations. So, while I agree with you that by trusting ourselves, we can often end up doing what God would have us do, I don’t think that’s always the case.

    And things are even more complicated than that right now for me because I know what I want, but I don’t think there is any decision that I can make that will get me to where I want to be. And I’m also not sure how to trust myself because what if it was myself rather than God who messed up my life this past year?

    At some point, I’m going to have to figure out how I want to make major decisions in my life, but right now I don’t know who or what to trust (including myself).

  16. 16.

    I don’t have much to add because I am a new reader, but I found the book No One Sees God by Michael Novak immensely helpful for the problem you describe. Perhaps it is available at your local library.

    Best of luck to you.

  17. 17.

    Seraphine, I just wanted to say I’m sorry for your pain and struggle. Although I know I don’t know exactly what you are feeling, I know that the times I have struggled with my one-on-one relationship with God and making sense of my life in relation to His will and trying to understand it all have been very, very difficult times. They have tested my faith in significant ways. It’s so hard, and to me there has been a sense of irony — the times when I have probably been in the most need of faith (when I feel the furthest away from God) are the times when my faith has felt the weakest.

    Reading this makes me wish I could send my friend over to your house. She has talked about how she has found God in these moments. Hearing her talk has deeply influenced my life and how I view this process of seeking God. (I submitted an essay about her, actually, here. FWIW.) I’ve never felt like I do when she talks about being able to talk to God and get answers from Him. I still have a long way to go in this process, but she has given me some water for my seed. :)

    I hope that seed of yours can grow, that you can find Him through all of this, and come to feel some peace and understanding about things that have been happening.

    Many hugs coming your way.

  18. 18.

    BTW, I really was going to just say something simple; I hope in sharing something that I wrote, or talking about my friend, that you don’t feel I’m trying to fix you or tell you what to do. I do care, though, and ache for you in your pain.

    I’m also moved by the desire to believe that you have expressed. I hope you are able to find a way to stay, too.

  19. 19.

    It might help to just let go of it all. Stop trying to find out God’s will for your life and to act on it. Stop asking God for direction or answers. Just live your life ethically and as best as you know how, and seek to connect with God, rather than to interpret or understand God.

    What happened to you doesn’t make sense. Stop trying to make sense of it. Understanding is overrated. You may come to a sense of peace (and acceptance) if you surrender your need to understand.

    I think that probably sounds harsh. I don’t mean for it to. I’m not wording things very well. I know how much you are struggling. I think it might help to just stop struggling. Just be.

  20. 20.

    I’d also recommend No One Sees God by Michel Novak, like Jana did. You probably won’t relate with or agree with everything in there, but he does make some very good points that might give you some peace and clarity.

    Best wishes.

  21. 21.

    If bibliotherapeutic suggestions are being entertained, I’d recommend C.S. Lewis’ _Till We Have Faces_ . (I’d reassure you that it’s quite different from his apologetic works, if the association is off-putting…)

  22. 22.

    Why not try Mormonism without God for a little while? Trust me, there is a lot still there, and eventually God comes back in a different way.

  23. 23.

    Jana and Kristine, bibliotherapeutic suggestions are definitely being entertained (as long as they’re not things like “Here’s How to Solve Your Issues with God in Ten Easy Steps”). I looked both of those books up on-line, and they both sound really interesting–I will definitely check them out.

  24. 24.

    m&m, no worries–it didn’t feel to me like you were trying to fix anything. It felt like you were expressing sympathy and concern, and I very much appreciate that.

    Ann, you are right that I may need to surrender my need to understand (because what happened doesn’t and perhaps won’t ever make sense). If I do surrender this, though, I have to abandon my current relationship with God and build a completely new one, and I’m not sure I’m quite ready to do that yet. Maybe soon, but not yet.

  25. 25.

    anon, it’s certainly a possibility, but I’m not sure that I can be Mormon and keep my feminist angst at bay without a stable relationship between me and God. Maybe it’s doable, but I’m not really sure right now (and I have my doubts).

    I guess if nothing else is apparent it’s that I’m not sure at all what I’m going to do.

  26. 26.

    Hi, I sympathize too with your feelings. And it brings to mind that scripture that talks about bearing one another’s burdens, that they may be light. I hope that you find a support in your life, as I too need support in mine.

    I don’t know enough about your situation to offer any specific suggestions, but I would like to share with you the things that make my day a little brighter. I just can’t think what those might be.

    Just Kidding! The Feeling Good Handbook is one and that may or may not apply to you and I am just beginning a book call Mind Lines that people are talking about. I’m a bookaholic you see and can’t help talking about them even in cases where it’s a non sequitir.

    I don’t want to insult you by giving you advice or pretending in any way that I know better than you how to resolve your issue. My wife reminds me occasionally, (not in words), how she isn’t looking for a solution to her problems she just wants me to know how she is feeling. So with that in mind I will turn off the fixit man inside and wish you all the best on your path.

  27. 27.

    Seraphine,

    I understand somewhat where you are coming from, though undoubtedly our experiences have been different, and I send you pure empathy. Feeling betrayed by God is such a demolishing feeling. It runs deeper than just about anything.

    One book that helped me at a point where I was feeling very betrayed (since you said you’re open to bibliographic suggestions) is _A God Who Looks Like Me_ by Patricia Lynn Reilly. The aspect of this book that helped most was her way of taking apart patriarchy and religious culture to get at a more personal essence of God, especially from a female perspective. I found that as I read, I would be flooded with new ways to seek and understand the divine, as well as being able to look back at what I had experienced and make new sense of it. (I don’t know if I’m making much sense, but I suppose that’s to be expected when trying to describe shifts in soul.)

  28. 28.

    Mike, thanks for the kind words.

    Sybil, thank-you for the empathy and the book suggestion. I’m not sure to what extent my problems with God are because of the ways in which He’s caught up in patriarchy/culture, but it’s always nice to have more ideas about ways to connect with God.

  29. 29.

    I think reason can only take us so far. Clearly I don’t mean we need supernaturalism or anything like that, but I do believe that an attempt to only apply the coldest of logic to our deepest held beliefs can lead to a kind of insanity. Have you tried breaking shit? Cheap teacups from the DI? Stacks of old tile -you’ll need a harder surface for that one, but tile is satisfying – and of course you can always make mosaics later, when you’re back to being busy making sense and assembling the separate parts of yourself to make a whole.

  30. 30.

    “Letting go” (of my need for understanding, reason, doing exactly what God wants, etc.) seems to be a common thread–and there’s something about this piece of advice that’s striking a chord. I’ll ponder why and get back to y’all. Thanks.

    crazywomancreek, nope, I haven’t tried breaking anything. I’m not sure if I have anywhere I could safely break things. I am cleaning out (majorly) my house and my office, though, and I am finding this very cathartic.

    No way no how, thanks for sharing your own insights from your own journey. Whatever path I choose, it helps to hear about others’ struggles and how they have chosen to face and deal with them.

  31. 31.

    The thing that I keep thinking of when I think of your situation is C.S. Lewis’ conception of deity as a lion in the Chronicles of Narnia. This is a thought that I’ve repeatedly come to in my wrestlings with God- That he is not a tame lion, and that it is better to let God eat me then to refuse to meet him at all- if that makes sense.
    I wish I had something more original or helpful to offer, but everything else I can think of just sounds patronizing.

  32. 32.

    Starfoxy, I appreciate your comment–I think that sometimes with all our discussion of God as our Heavenly Father that in Mormonism we can lose sight of his mysteriousness, fierceness, etc. And it can be difficult when we directly encounter those aspects of God, especially when we’re already feeling fragile.

  33. 33.

    Remember that no matter what you decide, I will ALWAYS love you!

  34. 34.

    Starfoxy and Seraphine, if you don’t already know it, this is a poem that I’ve always loved; I know you meant “eat” in a different way but I couldn’t help but think of it:

    God the Eater
    by Stevie Smith
    There is a god in whom I do not believe
    Yet to this god my love stretches,
    This god whom I do not believe in is
    My whole life, my life and I am his.
    Everything that I have of pleasure and pain
    (Of pain, of bitter pain and men’s contempt)
    I give this god for him to feed upon
    And he is my whole life and I am his.
    When I am dead I hope that he will eat
    Everything I have been and have not been
    And crunch and feed upon it and grow fat
    Eating my life all up as it is his.
    1957.

  35. 35.

    I’m not considering leaving the church because the church because God has betrayed my trust through the institution. Instead, I’m considering leaving the church because God has betrayed my trust (from my perspective) in my direct, prayerful interactions with Him. And I can’t be okay with institutional stuff if I’m not okay with God one-on-one.

    The one time I really had trouble with the Church the reason I was upset with the Church was because it was true and because I was upset with God. It was a hard place until things unwound for me. But I’ve had a couple three times where things looked like I had been betrayed until they unwound (kind of like one of those tangled knot tricks where with just the right pull it all comes straight).

    I now expect that out of God, but the first few times through were really, really painful.

    All I can say is bless your heart. It is rough.

  36. 36.

    Life can be SO difficult, and sometimes when trials are so harsh and unrelenting, we may feel betrayed by God. Since my daughter has been tortured and raped by a trusted friend, my life has spiraled into hating myself (for placing my daughter in a situation where she was violated), hating the perpetrator, and feeling anger at God for allowing such suffering. I have spiraled into a clinical depression which has been life-threatening at times.

    I have struggled with more issues that I can write about, but have held on to my love of Jesus Christ, who I know understands my pain when no one else seems to. I have learned things about Him I would not have learned in any other way and find solace in blogging about these spiritual discoveries. I still suffer but can now experience peace amid sorrow.

    May God comfort you during this difficult time, and please know that even though I do not know you personally, I do care about you and feel your pain.

  37. 37.

    I don’t want to pry, but with the details we have (you had a confirmation that you would successfully get together with a guy, now he has bailed on the relationship) I’m curious what the guy had to say as he left and what his feelings were about your witness.

    You don’t have to answer, and it probably doesn’t make a difference, but it is kind of the missing part of the story.

  38. 38.

    crazywomancreek, that’s a great poem–thanks for sharing.

    Carol, that sounds like a really difficult situation. I’m glad that you have been able to find peace. I believe that I will eventually find peace as well–I’m just not sure yet how it will come.

  39. 39.

    Stephen, you’re right that I’m only telling one side of the story. I’ve tried not to share too many details about him and what happened because I want to respect his privacy, and I don’t really need or want feedback from others on what happened between us. Here’s a very brief summary, though: he took my witness seriously, but in the end, he couldn’t make a commitment he wasn’t ready to make without his own spiritual confirmation. (Which I totally agree with.)

    While this was difficult for me, it’s something I can accept and deal with. What I’m really struggling with is God’s involvement in the whole situation.

  40. 40.

    Seraphine,
    From my personal experience I want to attest to you that God is not cruel. He loves us so dearly. I think when we pray about something he does confirm if it is good, if the possibility can be good. My good friend prayed about marrying her husband, she felt at peace and they were married. 10 years later with three kids in tow, he had an affair and left her. Why would Heavenly Father confirm to her this marriage if he knew what the final outcome would be. Wouldn’t it have saved her heartache if she was answered differently? (my opinion only) I feel as Heavenly Father sees all the potentials in life. He knows in the end what all the outcomes will be but I feel that he knows all the potentials that life has to offer, he knows us from the beginning of earth and what choices we made. My friend was probably answered in the affirmative to marry her sweetheart because he had the potential of being great. If God answered her no, not to marry him because He knew how the outcome would turn out, He would be taking away the free agency of her future husband-to cheat or not to cheat. Your affirmation prayer might have meant that this marriage could have had the potential to be a good marriage, you were presented that confirmation, you presented your witness to him-but because of that gift of free agency your boyfriend didn’t accept. I hope that all made sense, I don’t even know if that all made sense..but I want to testify that I know Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to be happy. I hope you can find the peace you so long for.

  41. 41.

    I he had asked my advice, I would have instead suggested a Moroni 10:3 approach. Decide to marry you and ask God to let him know if it was a mistake. Then go ahead and get married unless God told him otherwise.

    McConkie, who, bless his heart had some rough moments, gave a great talk on that sort of thing at BYU. Ah well, guys remain guys, my wife tells me it is part of our charm.

  42. 42.

    God seems cruel. I was mad at Him for so long. Until last year I felt He wasn’t there for me, that He has favorites and I wasn’t one of them.

    I’m not brimming with faith today, but I did learn last year about footsteps in the sand.

    Seraphine, a good book that voiced a lot of what you’re talkign about, at least for me, is “Reaching For the Invisible God,” by Philip Yancey. In it, he speaks about many famous people of God who doubted. It’s very validating. Somewhere in there it makes the point that only those who truly love and seek God doubt Him.

    I’ll have to try to find it. For me, it’s one day at a time. And God feels mostly punitive, even still.

  43. 43.

    Seraphine, your comment (25) resonated with me. I’ve also felt the stretch of being tugged one way by church culture/practice, another by the church itself (not at all the same thing as the first example!), what I felt were god’s expectations for me, any my expectations of myself. It’s vicious being a thinking reasoning woman and feeling utterly betrayed by the very things you believe are there to support you, it makes you question your identity in the most fundaamental ways. All I can say is that maybe it’s not your relationship with God/Church/Culture/Whatever that you’re struggling with, it could be your relationship with yourself; ie your own goals, expectations, frustrations, hopes, etc.
    I didn’t know how to make being a feminist, a woman, a Mormon, and all the other things I wanted to be mesh. Then I realized I was trying to make them mesh in other people’s eyes. I realized I couldn’t trust God until I trusted myself first. Trying to figure out the will of a Being that is infinite and eternal is too complex, but figuring out MY will (sometimes an equally tough challenge) was a lot more manageable. And in my eyes, even though things may not add up, I don’t have to defend any aspect of myself to anyone at all. Least of all God.
    I think that 9 times out of 10 we DON’T find answers or peace. We don’t hear about those stories in the Ensign or at sugery happy RS meetings, but it’s still the case. And that’s not the Mormon Condition, or the Female Condition, that’s the Human Condition. The point, if we have faith of any kind at all, is to fight through it anyway. Continue to challenge what feel to be wrong, defend that which feel to be right, see the faults of even good things with a clear eye, take a break when the slog becomes hard, and pick up again when we’ve rested enough to continue.
    I hope you do find answers and peace, but even if you don’t, I hope you always have that bravery that characterizes you and allows you to do what so many can’t, “Ask questions, and still manage to believe in something, whatever it is.”

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