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.
- 15 June 2009