(This is one of my more LDS related posts but I think any person could find ways to relate to it).
So it’s late and I should probably be asleep but what else is new! Today was another amazing day. It started out unpleasantly dealing with Comcast from 7-12 (the whole morning). Nothing was working and I traipsed up and down all 3 levels trying to get a read from technician on what was wrong. In truth he was clearly applying a wack-a-mole approach to fixing the problem. Try one thing, hit down the problem, whack the next one, until hopefully they were all whacked. Hopefully…
Anyway, they were finally done and I was tired. An early morning wake up does not have any effect on my go to sleep time. I wish insomnia worked that way! I would tell myself I had to wake up early every day! So, I crashed and woke up about 2 (I never take naps so you know I was really tired to do that). I had missed church and I felt a little bad about that but I know I will be there next week so it’s ok to have a moment of sleep induced truancy.
Fortunately I was not left spiritually adrift for long because my wonderful friends and home teachers came over for a visit. I think they both might have missed their callings as psychiatrists because they are so pleasant to talk to. I’m afraid I take up way too much of their time when they come but I enjoy it so much. We chatted about the Olympics, my fun weekend, my job etc and then they shared a prayer and spiritual thought.
These thoughts remind me of my Grandpa who I love, so you can imagine I love them. Today’s topic was one I have been contemplating lately- the unanswered prayer, the seemingly unexplained tragedy, the leaps of faith, the almost unforgivable act…the really tough stuff and the stuff that confuses, troubles us, or that we simply do not fully understand.
In an ideal world all of us would have 100% testimonies on all parts of our faith all the time, but unless we are Jesus, that is impossible There is always going to be something that at least for the moment you struggle with accepting. Things that don’t make any sense.
I think of those moments as spiritual holes. It’s just like standing on the edge of a deep pit and if you let yourself take too large a step you will fall.
I don’t know if it was just Indiana but I met a number of people on my mission who struggled to feel the Book of Mormon was true. They had strong testimonies of the priesthood, restoration, prophets but couldn’t get into scripture. This could be very troubling. Others struggled with the priesthood, marriage, judgement, prophets, and even the atonement. They’ve thought and thought about it and just haven’t been able to take that leap yet.
I’ll be honest and tell you mine. I’ve never had a great experience with fasting. I believe in being obedient but it’s a bit of a mystery to me. If I let it, I could focus on that spiritual hole and my faith would get submerged by it. Instead I hope that it is true, I fast and I remember the things I do know including my relationship with God, love of the temple and testimony of the Book of Mormon.
As someone who has struggled with anxiety I know more than most, a small problem, thought or issue can creep inside and get larger and more troublesome. This can happen with spiritual holes as we allow them to get bigger. At times they can seem almost overwhelming and all-encompassing.
So what do we do about it? Well to start, focus on what you do know and build on that. Then try to face your fears and always be obedient. Most importantly recognize that everyone has testimony holes. That’s why we need each other so badly. Where I am weak, you are strong, and vice versa. Maybe that’s why God doesn’t take away the holes? He knows how badly we need each other. I’ve had friends who have fallen into their spiritual holes, letting them consume their faith, and I miss their testimony strengths..
One of the best talks I have ever heard was in a Sacrament meeting on my mission. We were visiting a ward so I didn’t know the couple well but they started telling their conversion story. They were on a military base in Germany when they learned about the gospel and became converted.
Being on base, they didn’t have a car so a member family picked them up for church each Sunday. One day a little girl asked the new convert why he “smelled funny?” The truth was, he had started smoking again (very common after baptism to relapse. It’s ok), and he was very embarrassed. At first it was laughed off, but the father of the little girl knew hurt had occurred and this was a crucial faith moment, so he acted.
He called up the convert and said ‘Look I don’t care if you have to smoke a pack between meetings, we need you with us’. Instead of feeling ashamed of his testimony hole, the man felt love and acceptance and started coming, eventually kicking the habit completely. He did not allow a testimony hole to ruin all the good he did have and his family will be forever grateful to that brother who noticed and acted.
Sometimes I feel as a single woman I have to face holes by myself. Anxiety grows when I am not able to deal with my anger, fear, hurt, and resentment well, and the hole gets bigger and more ostracizing from those wanting to help me. Fortunately, however, I have always been able to lean on God and remember my convictions on so may things and become stronger. I’ve always been amazed at how many people God gave me that love me.
So, please friends if you are feeling like ‘how can I believe when I’m not sure about …..’ remember we need the holes and solid foundation. Both make you strong. Even the Savior briefly asked to have the bitter cup removed. Even He had a hole He felt momentarily was beyond him and that’s when God sent down an angel to give Him strength. He certainly overcame all for us.
In the end, you have to pick something to guide your life by, and I know I have chosen the right way for me to be happy and feel close to God- holes and all.
There is a great example in Nephi. He is conversing with angels and later Christ, seeing visions and dreams and yet he says ‘I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things’. Even faithful Nephi had holes, but he did not let that hold him back or allow him to forget the greatness he did have. He knew that God loved him and that has power.
I love a talk by Elder Holland called ‘Lord I Would Believe’ where he talks about the man hoping his son can be healed but lacking the faith he says ‘Help thou my unbelief’. In other words help me with this hole. Help me to not slip and fall:
“Observation number one regarding this account is that when facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation: “Lord, I believe.” I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.
Hold fast! Everyone is needed to help us bridge our testimony holes. We all need each other so don’t give up. I’ve known far to many who have. Don’t. A relationship with Christ and His happy plan is far too worthwhile. I know that is true of my self, independent from any other person.
Love you guys. I love my Heavenly Father, and I really do have a testimony of Jesus Christ and His church being restored to the earth. So let’s help each other out of our holes. 🙂
Just want to remind the trolls out there if you post unhelpful, unconstructive, attacks on my faith they will not be posted, so don’t waste your time.