I am Mormon, and I Have Questions

142
Jepardy schow-1

Brace yourselves.  I need to make an announcement:

I’m not all that smart.  (No snide remarks, please.) There are areas of expertise where I am completely, and utterly ignorant. For example: If my life depended on rebuilding a carburetor, I would not survive. If I were forced to play Jeopardy at gunpoint, I would lose. (Probably in Final Jeopardy, but I would lose because I’m not a good gambler.)

The point being that there are areas in my life where I am not experienced, and/or educated. Thankfully, this ignorance has not cost me anything vital. Yet.

However, to help balance things out, there are some areas that I have a good handle on. One of the realities of life is that the areas where I do have expertise have very little impact on the areas where I don’t have expertise – and vice versa. President Kimball said it plainly:

“Experience in one field does not automatically create expertise in another field. Expertise in religion comes from personal righteousness and revelation…Why, oh, why do people think they can fathom the most complex spiritual depths without the necessary laboratory work accompanied by the laws that govern it?” (Link)

Expertise in religion is a lifelong endeavor that takes work and experience to gain. We are all at different stages in our spiritual expertise. I feel that I am knowledgeable in some of those areas. Particularly, I feel pretty solid in my testimony of the core elements of the church and gospel. I don’t consider myself ignorant in this arena. More specifically, I am convinced that…

• God exists, and is my spiritual Father.

• His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior of mankind. He came to earth, died, was resurrected, and saved me. (link to a more detailed testimony)

• Christ’s church has been restored to the earth in modern times through the prophet Joseph Smith, complete with priesthood authority, revelation and ordinances.

• The Lord has revealed His gospel, particularly through the Book of Mormon, as well as the Bible, and also modern scripture.

• Prophets lead Christ’s church today through revelation from the Lord himself. The authority that they hold is also shared through priesthood keys to other leaders – even down to the neighborhood level.

This core testimony guides my life. It give my life meaning, purpose and perspective. It brings me joy. I have this part down.

But…please know this…

• There are elements of the gospel and the church that I do not understand, or comprehend, or sometimes even like.

• There are things that have happened to me and my family that I don’t like, don’t understand, and can’t explain.

Yes, I am human.

Don’t stop reading…I will explain. First, let me give you a complete list of all the things I don’t like or understand:   Ready?

Riiiiiiight!

Like I am going to type out a list of my personal questions! I would never do that. Why? Because my questions might become your stumbling blocks – just as your questions could become my stumbling blocks.

That is why we discuss things that build faith – not create doubt. What kind of brother would try and destroy my faith by planting seeds of doubt?  Exactly! THAT kind of brother.

So that is my grand confession – I have questions. So what?  I imagine you do, too. Are you afraid to say it? It is a little scary. Perhaps it would be better if it came from someone with more authority.  Perhaps Elder John Carmack, former member of the Seventy, when he said:

“I have a whole box of unanswered questions, none of them threatening to my own testimony. New questions enter that box regularly. Others come out of that box, yielding to both study and experience.” (Link here)

Question box-1

I was so glad to hear Elder Carmack has a box. It reenforces that it is OK to have questions. Actually, I do not see how it would be possible to make a lifelong study of the gospel, and be a faithful member of the church and NOT have any questions. But that’s just me.

Do you have a box?  I do.  Well, it isn’t actually a box of questions – mine is more of a list of questions. I call it “My List of Things to Ask God in the Next Life if I Ever Get the Chance.” Some of the things on my list are deep and important, others more trivial – like “whatever happened to the guy that stole our minivan in California back in ’94?”

One of the key points in Elder Carmack’s quote is that the questions he has do not threaten his testimony. That is how I feel about my list of questions – my questions don’t torment me – and not having the answers doesn’t rattle me either. I just openly admit that I don’t understand all of it, and keep moving forward.

But…I understand enough. Enough to build my life around what I do know. The search continues to learn more.  Elder Jeffrey Holland talked about this idea last Conference when he said, “hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.” (link)

That knowledge does come – through experience and revelation. The list of questions changes. Sure, there are some questions that have been gathering dust for a long time, and might never be resolved in mortality, but I am OK with that. Neither will I focus on those questions so much that they become self-installed stumbling blocks. Obsessing about questions that do not have immediate answers is a toxic endeavor. It can canker a soul, and diminish faith.

Seeking answers to those questions is a very personal quest. I entrust it to my communication with God, with my leaders, my family, my closest friends, – all of whom I trust to have my best interests at heart.  The venue is private – not a public event.  Much of it happens in the quiet times of prayer, study and meditation – not in online chat venues.

I am content to let some of my questions languish on the list. Eventually, they will all be answered. I don’t feel compelled to share them with others, or dwell on them.

That is where I part ways with a lot of my brothers and sisters in the Church. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. To try and explain, I isolated six principles that keep me from sharing what I don’t like/understand/comprehend.

1) I don’t want to be responsible for spreading doubt – as I said earlier, we are all at different places in the development of our testimonies, and I don’t want one of my minor questions to become someone else’s major stumbling block. We are here to lift and strengthen each other, not to drag each other down. There is enough intentional toxicity out there already.

2) I have a testimony that Christ directs His church through living prophets. I love these 15 men, and have a testimony that they posses the keys to administer the priesthood, and are authorized to run the church. I truly believe that the Lord meant what he said in D&C 1:33: “Whether by mine own voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same.” That is part of my core testimony.

3) I am not that smart. Especially in an eternal perspective.  The prophet Jacob said, “Wherefore brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.” (Jacob 4:10) I have never considered myself smarter than God, or the men who speak for him.

Even though sometimes I might not like every policy that comes out of Salt Lake, or my bishop’s office, I have never presumed myself to be so wise that I would need to give the Brethren some advice – to “counsel the Lord.” I know these men are called of God and have long lifetimes of experience. Who am I to question them, or make suggestions on how they could do it better? Or to question what the Lord has revealed to them?

Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I got it.

Being a member of the Church is not like having a job at Dunder-Mifflin, where you can stuff your complaints and ideas into the suggestion box mounted on the break room wall.  This is God’s Kingdom on the earth – and the Lord runs it the way He chooses – through His prophets.

4) I have faith in God, and in His servants.  I have been trying to follow their counsel my entire life, and they have not led me astray. In fact, my faith in them, and the Lord, is bolstered in knowing that the times I have disregarded their counsel, I have suffered for it. Every 6 months, as I listen to their counsel in General Confeence, I am uplifted, and guided, and my faith is bolstered.

(I stole this next one from one of my own posts – here)

5) I believe and sustain the principles of “Stewardship,” and “Line of Authority.”

One of the miracles of the church is the concept of the lay ministry. And I use the word “miracle” intentionally. Every ward, branch, stake or district that we live in are run by people like you and me. For free. No degrees in theology, no careerists. No corporate intrigue.

Then, to make it even crazier, every once in a while, we all play musical chairs and change jobs.  And we do this our entire lives. Voluntarily. One day you might be in charge, the next day I might be in charge. We see these stewardships as a sacred trust.

And it works. That is the miracle. The reason it works is because we respect the doctrine of stewardship. We are taught to “stand in the office in which we are appointed.”

The reason that these many stewardships can exist and function with remarkable success, is that they are girded by the structure of the Line of Authority. Every calling is extended by a line leader in the priesthood. And that line leader was called by someone else.  All of our callings are tied together in this line. Without this structure, or when this structure is ignored, things get messy.

Leapfrogging in the line of authority also gets messy – and I’m not talking only merely sending letters straight to the Prophet – I even get uncomfortable when we leapfrog our bishops and go straight to the Stake President to get questions answered. (More on leapfrogging here.)

* IMPORTANT NOTE: If your leader is doing things with you, or to you, that you know are wrong. Please leapfrog to the higher authority. Don’t keep quiet just to get along, or out of fear. Don’t be afraid to shine light on darkness.

Finally, the grand prize of this entire structure is that we are entitled to receive revelation from the Holy Ghost as it corresponds to our stewardship, or anyone else that we are responsible for along the line of authority.  But it only works in one direction.

A simple test: If someone is claiming inspiration that goes UP the line of authority, they are sadly misled. (If you ever hear me claim to have received revelation on behalf of the entire Church, close this window, delete my bookmark, and never come back.)

And finally…

6) I am grateful.  God has blessed me with so much. It is impossible for me to get bent out of shape over the things I don’t like, or don’t understand if I am constantly aware of what I do enjoy, and do understand. I am forever in a “net gain” situation. Being self-focused on what I lack does not make me happy.

I will admit that I lack a certain empathy with those who would try and pressure the Lord, or his servants to make changes in how He runs His Kingdom. Personally, I have never felt so strongly about my own personal concerns that I would be willing to “counsel the brethren” through letters, protests, the media, or gossip. Especially in order to impose my views on a church that I have no stewardship over – a church that I am not entitled to receive revelation on behalf of, and that is run by those who I already know represent the Lord himself.

Neither could I bring myself to leapfrog that line of authority – partly because I truly believe in that structure, and partly because I have been at various places in that very chain.  I know from my experience that good does not come ignoring the organization that the Lord has put in place.

And so you see, I’m not going to be giving President Monson, or the rest of the prophets any counsel. I have enough faith in God and His servants that I can leave them alone and let them fulfill their stewardships. But rest assured, I will be glued to the TV very October and April as they counsel me.

Why? Precisely because I’m not that smart.

PS: I am not going to approve any comments that justify leaving the church, ordaining women to the priesthood, saying I am afraid of the truth, etc.  So don’t waste your time submitting them.  Thanks.

142 COMMENTS

  1. “Then, to make it even crazier, every once in a while, we all play musical chairs and change jobs.” – Hilarious and true. Great post, thanks. 🙂

  2. I don’t know you, but I want to give you a BIG FAT cyber hug! Yes! Can I agree more?? No! You pulled out your hammer and nailed it, MMM. Thank you.

  3. I do believe, my dear brother, that is one of your best posts to date. ESPECIALLY in light of the many discussions sisters are engaged in right now regarding some doctrine of the church.
    I love you for speaking the words that many of us are even less smart enough to articulate.
    xoxo

    (yes I DID just give you hugs and kisses)

  4. As a Mormon Feminist, I just wanted to say that I really liked this post. It was thoughtful and well written and true. I liked it. So thanks.

  5. Very well said! Thanks for your thoughts on this. I have tried to think of ways to discuss similar thoughts with those I know in the feminism camp. Thanks for helping my wheels turn. -D

  6. Interesting ideas. Raises more questions than answers. Hard to have any discussion at all without the risk of sowing doubt. IMO, it may be difficult to grow without challenges.

    • I am against sharing questions and doubts in the context of broadcasting them to the world on a blog. When I have questions, I take them to the Lord, the scriptures, my leaders and my loved ones – in a very personal, private manner.

    • While I followed that line of reasoning for most of my life (and see wisdom in it), I have been so grateful to find that I am not alone, I am not isolated in my questions and concerns.

      I do try to balance my published questions with my testimony of the basic elements of the gospel. I don’t know what the perfect balance is, though.

      Although I am my sister’s keeper, I don’t think she is so delicate as to need super high security level protection from questions she may already have or have in the future. If I won’t talk about it, she certainly may not feel like she can ask about it. She may feel as if she is almost sinning to want to discuss her questions. Better to acknowledge concerns and honestly discuss them while recognizing how paradoxical it is that we can still have such a strong testimony of the Lord’s love for us and the truth of his gospel and how blessed we are.

      But, like I said, it is a precarious balance, and I don’t know that I have it right either.

    • I think that your concerns are more an issue of “venue.” Questions and doubts don’t need to be handled in the media, or through blogs. It should be a personal quest to find answers – through prayer, the scriptures, the teachings of our prophets, and discussion with people we know, love and trust.

    • I also feel like it’s a challenge – and maybe the challenge IS one of venue. How do we encourage (or find?) appropriate private venues in our lives where we can discuss the difficult questions in an atmosphere of faith? I say this because for most of my life as a child in a part-inactive-member family I felt that religious discussion was too uncomfortable to have, and some attacks by extended anti-Mormon family didn’t make this better. So I absolutely CRAVE a venue where I can discuss gospel topics and especially difficult “box” type questions in a safe and faithful and inquiring environment. But Sunday school, for example, never seems to be the right place (for many of the reasons you mention). So where can we find the right venue for this? Or how can we create it ourselves?

    • I would start with family members who you trust to be faithful – but if you don’t have that, there are Home Teachers, Visiting teachers, Ward leaders, friends you can trust, and of course, the basic answers of scripture study and prayer. (Hope that helps, cuz it’s all I got!)

  7. Interesting presentation of conventional thoughts.

    The idea that one should keep his questions to himself in an effort to avoid challenging another’s faith is especially intriguing to me.

    • To represent the best side of your perspective, it’s an issue of intent: if you really want to get answers, you’ll try to ask folks who have a hope of answering them. If you want to evangelize against the church, you’ll ask questions to those from whom you don’t expect can respond with a well justified, faithful explanation.

      That being said, I love wikipedia. I love reddit.com/r/changemyview. I love the scientific process. I love them because it takes bravery to say “Here is what I think, rip it to shreds if you can.” I love them because the truth wins out when ideas are exposed to rigorous analysis and opposition. In much the same way that the trials of this Earth are a metaphorical “refiner’s fire”, welcoming challenges to your beliefs helps to polish the gem of truth in a way that one person alone never could. I love the idea that “that which can be destroyed by the truth should be”.

      The internet is full of falsehoods and is treacherous – except in those venues that encourage debate from a wide array of perspectives. If someone puts up a conspiracy theory on wikipedia, it is discredited in short order. But if someone posts a conspiracy theory on a website that bans opposition, it will merely grow with more (false) justifications in time. Public discourse is a wonderful and efficient way to sift truth from error.

    • I completely disagree.

      Spiritual truth is not found by debate, or by the scientific process. It is found through spiritual means. While I love Wikipedia for different reasons, if that is where you go to find spiritual knowledge, you will be shortchanged. Spiritual truths are discovered and validated by spiritual means – not through worldly debates.

  8. 2 thoughts came to mind as I read this excellent post:

    -Nephi’s response when the angel asks him if he understands what he’s just been shown regarding his father’s dream. Nephi says that he doesn’t know the meaning of all things, but he knows that God loves his children.

    -an article from a few years back in the Ensign, in which the author related giving a talk and explaining that he had been given a leaflet with 50 reasons the B of M isn’t true. He said that over the years (decades, I believe), as various discoveries/details came to light, he had slowly been able to mark through almost all those ‘proofs’. The point was that if he had waited until all questions were answered, he would have missed out on a lifetime of blessings. (And then afterward, someone wanted to know the last remaining ‘proof’ and was able to dispatch that one.)

    Great insights into the reasons why we don’t lead with out doubts, as Elder Holland said. We just discussed his talk in RS for TfoT last Sunday.

  9. You have the talent of taking everything that I have been thinking about it and wording it clearly and concisely. Thank you for posting this.

  10. Then I read something like this from Doctrine & Covenants 76: 5-10 and realize that not only do I not need to know the answers to all my questions in this life, I’m actually not even smart enough to know what questions I could be asking:

    5 For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

    6 Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

    7 And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

    8 Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

    9 And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

    10 For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.

    Not so bad a promise is it?

    Tom

  11. MMM, I echo mcat’s post. As Will Rogers said, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” I would never want to be the one who endangered someone else’s testimony or caused them to doubt. I know what I believe, but, at times, have trouble expressing why. Your post helps me define some of my reasons. Thank you. Good Sabbath, Friend.

  12. Wow! I agree – this may be one of the posts I have been most appreciative of so far. Thank you for articulating this so amazingly well. And thank you for not sharing your list with us. I don’t need to add any more to my box today, though I can’t wait for that Q&A session sometime in the hereafter to figure out some of the tid-bits in my box.

  13. I needed that today. Thanks! I have a tendency to want to reach out to the world and say, “WHY?!!” about certain things. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said and it’s a good reminder to me to keep a lid on it and work those questions out privately.

  14. Over the 50 years of my life, I have found only a few people that express certain concepts in such a manner that they coincide precisely with what I would express. Upon reading your post, it appears that there is one more than I had assumed.

    Joseph Smith said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that one of the reasons more things aren’t revealed to the Saints is that we don’t know how to keep our mouths shut. There are certain things that we have the authority to reveal to others and certain things for which we don’t have that authority. I believe that, in most situations, that includes our doubts, etc., about the Gospel and other related things.

    There’s a common misconception that doing all you can to question, disprove, discount, deconstruct, dismantle, or destroy something is the intellectually honest approach to truth. I’ve unfortunately found this both in the Church and in academia. I have never found even a single example of a case in which such efforts/attitudes actually led to a greater understanding of truth, edification of the individual, or a greater degree of peace and happiness. In fact, I’ve found just the opposite. It ultimately and inevitably leads to ignorance, cynicism, malcontent, and despair. Each individual must make his or her own choices, but personally, I prefer not to have those elements in my life. A focus on deepening our understanding of the core elements of what has been revealed by the Lord leads us on the safe path, and actually brings answers to questions.

    With each year of effort to become a better disciple of Christ, I see more wisdom in the admonition (attributed to Joseph Smith) to “cling close to the trunk.” My understanding of the Gospel has increased immensely since I made the commitment to focus on the core doctrines, in particular the Atonement. It may seem odd that narrowing my focus actually broadened my understanding, but that’s the way I have seen it in my life and in the lives of others.

    Anyway, thank you for that post. It was a great way to end my fast today.

  15. AuntSue
    Thank you for your well-spoken wisdom. At one time, my pregnant niece, her husband and little daughter stayed with our family for several months. I was concerned that he seemed to be doing nothing to get a job, etc. When I took my concerns to the Lord in prayer, his answer was VERY clear. This young man was NOT my stewardship. Hmmmm. Evidently, my job was to feed, love and nourish this little family.

  16. I would add that reading anti-mormon literature does not help answer questions. I have had many discussions lately with anti-mormons. One thing I have told them is that if they haven’t honestly, and open mindedly studied our religion, and prayed to God to know if it is true, then they can’t honestly preach that it is false. But on the other hand, I don’t need to study their material to know they are false. By praying about my own religion, and getting the answer that it is true, I have enough knowledge to make a decision about their accusations without actually studying them myself. So although I may have questions about my religion, I know, through my own seeking and prayer, that it is true, so I will wait patiently until the day when my questions are answered.

    • You are 100% correct on that. For quite a few years I battled anti-Mormons, so I’ve read and heard everything they’ve thrown out there. (They really haven’t had a new idea since Joseph Smith was alive.) The only thing that reading anti-Mormon literature did for me was to show me how morally bankrupt and intellectually slothful they really are. After a while it became perfectly clear that they didn’t have any intention whatsoever of listening, so I basically just stopped engaging with them at all.

      I also realized that my time would be spent much more productively reading and pondering the scriptures and the teachings of our modern-day prophets and apostles, and praying for instruction and understanding. When it comes to the core elements of the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation, I have already found the truth. Now my job is to improve my understanding of that truth and implement it more fully in my life.

    • Years ago when I was a student at BYU-Hawaii, my biology teacher said, “There is nothing Satan would rather have us do than waste our time beating out his brushfires.” Getting caught up in anti-Mormon literature helps no one. Neither us nor those pushing it on us. The Gospel is such a joyful thing. I pity those people who dedicate their lives trying to tear it down. How sad they will be in the next life, knowing that they have wasted their time on earth.

  17. You have lucked out mmm, I wrote a long response and something happened at the end and it disappeared. I figure there was a reason for that and so I’ll just say Thank You for another great blog and express my belief that those “questions” are put there to test our Faith.

  18. Thank you. This post felt like an antidote to a lot of the other things that have been creeping into my blogroll and facebook feed. Inspired.

  19. Thank you! I’ve always felt that anyone who has a testimony of the Gospel should also have questions. Faith is essential to Heavenly Father’s plan, and it comes into play when questions arise. You have articulated very well random thoughts I have had throughout the years, and you have done it in a timely manner for me personally, and most likely for many members of the Church. Thank you again.

  20. But isnt it good to be able to answer questions others have? Im sure the questions will pop up also from investigators or/and ordinary people. And if we cant ask the questions, how will we be able to have answers to others that might ask?

  21. What if investigators and/or ordinary people asks us questions? Wouldnt it be good to be able to have answers to some of the questions at least? In todays world its not enough anymore with only our testemonys and “Gospel-answers”. More information, more negative rumors are available because of the Internet. I believe that its a good thing if some members at least have answers to these dififcult questions.

    • I am against sharing questions and doubts in the context of broadcasting them to the world on a blog. When I have questions, I take them to the Lord, the scriptures, my leaders and my loved ones – in a very personal, private manner.

      I guess I am just bothered by the idea of melting someone’s testimony by throwing PhD level questions at them if they are at a K-6 level in gospel understanding. Seems patently unfair.

      An investigator asking questions would be just the opposite of this.

  22. Absolutely brilliant! And such a great segue into General Conference! (Yippee!!!) Thank you, thank you!!

    I couldn’t help but think of another post you wrote about our foundation when I read this. I have a few friends who are in the throes of all of the current hubbub, and my heart often aches, because I know that if they had a strong testimony of core doctrine, and a personal relationship with the Savior, everything else would fall into place. I have considered every point you made, but I’m grateful you worded it so well, and threw it out into the blogosphere.

    I, too, believe questions are essential to our growth in the church, but I believe we should handle them like Joseph Smith did (kneeling and asking in faith), and not like all of the competing sects of the time did (yelling and spreading contention to the world).

    I also think it is essential to remember, as you said, that we cannot know some things in our mortal lives. The more I learn of the ‘mysteries of God,’ the more I realize I do not even have the capacity to know- to even fathom- some things in my mortal frame. And at the same time, to know that I will always be given enough, exactly when I need it.

  23. I appreciate what you said because it’s helpful to acknowledge that we all have those questions (dare I say doubts?) I have learned that when I try to share one of my questions with someone who I think is smarter than me, they are always eager to answer. Problem is the answers are not helpful because they answer something different than what I think I asked. Usually they miss my point. So I get an answer I already knew.
    I’d also like to add to your list of reasons not to share your troubling questions. When in the past I have shared a doubt, I have noticed that afterwards my life has conspired to attack me in that one area. I think it’s because Satan can’t read my thoughts but he can clearly hear whatever I speak aloud. If he hears that I am troubled about something, he views that as a chink in my armor and that’s where he tries to get in. Satan has more than enough ammunition to use against me already. I don’t want to give him any more. Lin

  24. I feel very much the same about a lot of what you said. Well put! However, I do feel that leaders in the church appreciate feedback. I’m not saying that they seek out the opinion church members to direct how the work is to be accomplished, or that feedback dictates doctrine. My mom is a priesthood auxiliary general president, and i know she values the input and responses from local leaders who are “in the trenches”. As far as changing doctrine, i am not suggesting that is up for debate and a vote among the membership of the church. But I can’t help but wonder if (for example) men of African decent would be able to hold the priesthood if the civil rights movement had not put pressure on the prophet and apostles to seek further direction regarding the matter? There is good, positive change that can and does result from members of the church having conversations and open dialogue about policy and even doctrine. Member consensus does not dictate change, but raising questions can lead to further light and understanding. After all, we know from the 9th article of faith that there are “many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” that have yet to be revealed!

    • I would suggest that offering “unsolicited” opinions is not much different than murmuring. If the opinions are asked for – which they often are – that is a different matter. That is why the church, at all levels, is run by councils – so that different voices have a way to contribute that still fits within the concepts of stewardship and the line of authority. The phase “put pressure on the prophet and apostles” makes my skin crawl.

    • I’ve heard many other mention that perspective on the civil rights movement. However, none of them seem to look at it this way–that perhaps the Lord was waiting for the Civil rights movement to occur before revealing his desire for Africans to hold the priesthood. It seems awfully vain to think that OUR actions here on earth would pressure the Lord or his prophets to reveal anything of such great importance. The only time the Lord is ‘bound’ to do anything is to send blessings when we obey his commandments. Everything else is directed by his will, and his will alone.

    • I wanted to add that President Hinckley bore his testimony about when the brethren received revelation to extend the priesthood to the blacks, he’d mentioned that they had asked the Lord if it was time to do so many times and they all knew that specific time only that it was undoubtably time. It’s not that they hadn’t asked before this time.

  25. I echo all of the glowing comments before mine. Thank you for this brilliant distillation of an issue that can feel feel and be very complicated. I’m so glad to have found your blog! I’ll be learning and enjoying from now on.

  26. I agree with LaurieBee and many others. Thank you for distilling this complex issue into very basic, logical, and comforting terms. I’m sending it along to my young adult children. I’m so happy to have discovered your blog!

  27. Well expressed, thank you! It’s sometimes as though people are trying to call God to repentance instead of the other way around! I have questions too – which are also not important ones. Slightly interesting is all. I know I will understand one day. If anything is troubling me, past experience has taught that I will get help with it at some stage.

    I like the sentiment expressed by Henry Eyring, that we need never fear studying things out, because the gospel encompasses all truth. (The problem sometimes seems to come when people don’t study things out enough, but go off the rails too easily when they come across a half-truth or two.)

    When there is anything we don’t know, it’s a good tip to consider all that we do know.

  28. We are here to lift and strengthen each other, not to drag each other down… E.X.A.C.T.L.Y. My questions do not weaken my TESTIMONY… neither does me activity or lack thereof… please know that I will be watching Conference with eyed glued to my TV… one hand taking profuse notes in my journal! LOVE this time of year… Conference is better than Christmas!!

  29. Someone posted this on Facebook today and although I’ve never read your blog before, I am so grateful that you wrote this. I have been really struggling with my own “box of questions” lately and have felt such a weight on me. I’ve always relied on my feelings to guide me and this post brought me peace and relief, while the questions and doubts that have been brought to my mind in the last few months have caused almost physical pain, sleepless nights and contention. Thank you for verbalizing this so I could understand things more clearly. I am so, so grateful.

  30. Having faith doesn’t equal a perfect knowledge of all things. Until all truth is revealed by a wise and loving Heavenly Father, we all struggle along and have questions. He gives us truth a little at a time (like eating an elephant). Faith is a wonderful spiritual gift and helps make our mortal journey much easier, but must be exercised and (I suspect) painful at times in order for our faith to grow stronger through a mighty change of heart. Thank you for eloquently putting into words what has long been on my mind and in my heart.

  31. I was part of situation where a family stopped coming to church a year or so after baptism. The sister got awkward answers when she asked about garments. (That’s another box we keep tightly shut.) So like a good new saint she went to lds.org and scriptures for answers. Well, next to nothing there too, so try Google, right! Oh boy. Then when she had even more questions, ward members were ill equipped to deal with anything she was wondering, and even made her feel bad for having certain questions. I remember she asked if we’d all get our own planet if we were good. I cringed at all the “help” the good-natured ward members were giving her. Only took a few months for the whole family to stop coming all together.

    What about informed consent? I think the biggest hurt for this family is how much you learn after baptism that really should happen before. This is just doctrine in this example, but I’m wanting to illustrate the dangers of “the box”.

    You mention in the comments that member should pretty much shut up, but investigators are free to question all they want? Are we not all investigators in a way? I fail to see the difference in wanting answers to questions before or after baptism or even endowment.

    I see a trend of putting things in a box. I’ve done it, I’ve been told to do it by a bishop as well (he called it a table). I guess I’m one to say – open the box and let’s deal with it… let the chips fall where they may. It doesn’t have to mean the end of the church – we may loose some (we do anyway), but if we are stronger for it in the long term, especially having dealt with the issues – can move forward with more confidence. I don’t mean open this box in church meetings either. But is there a place that we can openly discuss? What would/could that look like?

    Count me in the minority, but this whole box concept seems a bit dishonest, or at least disingenuous. I’m totally with you that Sunday meetings need a certain structure, and public outcry is IMHO dis-tasteful. I also agree strongly with most of your post, especially in regards to improper authority hopping. But why is it so awkward to bring up anything that’s threatening or goes against what we’ve been taught? To me it’s like we are all acting… we know we have our doubts, but we don’t talk about them. We put on our smiles and pretend everything is just fine. I may think something that an apostle said is wrong – but I can’t say so… I can’t talk about it.

    Realize that vocalizing doubt with friends (probably outside of a Sunday Service setting) could be beneficial in the long run. You may realize with someone else shares your struggle, and you can research, strengthen each other and reach insights you may not have reached on your own. Or maybe our Faith is just too fragile? PhD level questions should already have PhD level answers for them, right? Shouldn’t truth stand tall even after all the scrutiny and doubt is thrown at it?

    The secret box doesn’t seem healthy to me. I can sometimes understand why people call Mormonism a cult. This box concept seems to be “cultish” to me. Take in the good you are fed, ignore the bad (or worse, “you can’t handle the truth”).

    “Living is easy with eyes closed”.

    The BOX concept seems to be ad hoc law in Mormon CULTURE already… I guess I’m one of the few that see it as an unhealthy thing. But I appreciate your insight, and admire your testimony. My testimony is hammered and a bit mangled. But my search for knowledge and light continues… I can’t kill that curiosity and thirst for truth within me, and I don’t think I should try.

    Be well my fellow traveler!

    • I think you misunderstand idea of “the box.” It is a place to keep unresolved questions, so that you can work on resolving them. You keep track of them there – you take them out and hold them up, and work on resolving them. And, sometimes, you find out that a question HAS been resolved. My list changes as the years go by – it is not secret – but it is personal to me – and my list is vastly different than your list. And remember, PhD questions do have answers – but those answers make no sense to someone at a K-6 level.

    • Bob, you make some good points and I agree that open discussion could help us all grow individually. It is not always easy or comfortable, but in a life where learning and experience are among the highest priorities a little discomfort at present could pay healthy dividends in the future.

    • i believe in being VERY open with my struggles and my questions. In places that facilitate growth. Its like any science experiment, to conduct it properly you need proper control of your variables. Throwing it out to the worldwide web (even the NAME sounds messy) you invite a whole LOT in that is going to be more hinderance than help. Maintaining control is so important to get you to the best result, that is why we keep personal things personal, sacred things sacred. Not secret, just afforded the proper respect and reverence. If for me I have a Facebook where every single one of my friends is a faithful unwavering saint (LDS or not really) then I will absolutely throw my quandaries onto that forum. But if I have people who are less sturdy in their foundations, I could do them AND myself unnecessary harm. LOVE the attention to this detail MMM.

    • I agree Anna, and I’m not afraid to say I also hold some sacred things secret; at least they meet the only definition of secret that I have ever known.

    • I loved your essay. I must confess, however, I was worried about whether to read it or not – too many who try to tear down under the guise of explaining. Not so here. I loved the premise, explanation and degree of thought that has gone into this. Are you ok with people using text from your blog for discussion, presentation or in other ways?

    • Yes Ben I believe that is why we are counseled to always seek our own confirmation directly from the spirit, “don’t take my word for it.” Sure it is possible for human leaders to make mistakes or give bad direction, as far as I know we are supposed to support leaders in righteousness, not error. Some cultural tradition has countered this point but for me I feel like the spirit has confirmed it.

  32. MMM, what a fine and timely post! Spot on. Elder Nelson just spoke on this at the recent CES fireside and he said, ” Will you choose to follow the Lord or the philosophies of men? Issues surrounding society today — unemployment, choosing to not have children, questioning the definition of marriage — are all pulling people away from the truths of the gospel.

    “If you have a question about the position of the church on … [any] important issue, prayerfully ponder it, then heed the prophetic messages at this forthcoming October general conference of the church,” he said. “Those inspired addresses, plus inspiration from the Holy Ghost, will bring a fuller understanding to your mind.”

  33. My friend, I have just seen this through Facebook. I am 23. With a Small family of my own, I have, in the last 9 months, started investigating the church. It is the most amazing thing that has braced this earth. As I Say im a young guy with a stupid amount of life experience for my age. I lost my first daughter when she was born, and I have always been the one to answer questions for people, help them and guide them. I have fended for myself from 16 (something that used to be common back in the day, but not anymore) with me not being a member of the church, I found it hard for my own guidance, I went to previous churches but none felt right, but now I’ve found it. The reason I mentioned my daughter is because I had questions, questions I wanted to know the answer too, which is what I’m going to go Into shortly.

    But first I need to say, I admire you, and your resolve, to be able to openly admit what you just did it takes a lot for someone to say it.
    I need you to know, we aren’t meant to understand everything. We are meant to understand, that we can NOT understand everything we want or need to know. That is where the basis of faith intervenes, we have to have faith in our Lord that with his guidance we will trust his judgement when we ask him for an answer. We trust Our Lord and we believe in him. I can tell you do exactly that!
    As for the box, I totally 100% agree. There are questions where we want to know the answer too, but we shouldn’t know, THEY are the ones we need to put in a box. Your testimony is a true and meaningful one, we can tell this by the comments from above, you have linked your heart with theirs. Which is what family is about. And you should hold your head up high and realise you are a smart person. You actually understand EVERYTHING you NEED to.
    Take care 🙂
    Jake Frater

    • Jake: Thank you for that comment. And don;t worry – I get called “Mr. Know-it-all” more than I get called “dummy.” I was just making the point that is=n some areas I am not that smart – especially when compared to God and his servants.

      So glad to hear that you are investigating the church! So cool! The beauty is that you will find many, many answers, and you are correct – some things we won’t find out – until much later. But what we have is enough to give us hope, and purpose, and drive our faith.

      Glad to welcome you to the blog.

  34. Thank you so much for this great blog post! I feel the same way in so many regards, especially when it comes to people leaving the church or arguing about issues that we just cannot understand. I recently wrote about the issue of Women and the Priesthood, that it all comes down to faith in the Lord, and understanding that the Lord’s way is not the world’s way, but it is the way to have true happiness.

    Anyway, I talk too much, but thank you so much!

  35. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m saddened at how many blogs and sources claim to be trying to help people understand our Faith better, whereas they’re just dumping grounds for their boxes. I must be even less smart than you, MMM, because I don’t have a box. I don’t really have any unanswered questions. When I hear questions from other people’s boxes, I usually don’t enjoy the feeling that comes with them, so I move on. For me it comes down to the diversity of spirits. Truth is accompanied by the Holy Ghost. Falsehoods and doubtful criticisms are accompanied by negative feelings. I just try to stick with the stuff that makes me feel the spirit. For me, it’s that simple. PS I have a testimony of stewardship and lines of authorities. When I’ve followed counsel from my leaders, I’ve been blessed, regardless of whether or not I agreed.

    • I also believe in lifting up other people with what we say and do. But I have to be cautious of the idea that only negative feelings come with falsehoods and positive feelings come from the spirit. For one, feelings can be hard to interpret. Second, I feel “negative feelings” when I read, for example, Holocaust stories. This does not mean that they are “untrue.” So what I may feel as “discomfort” may actually be a new idea necessary for growth.

    • One thing I know for sure: the Holy Ghost does not accompany lies and falsehoods. If you have trouble sorting out the negative feelings, stick with the Holy Ghost.

  36. I have been doing the same thing that you say you have been doing — taking my questions to the Lord. And the Lord has told me that he did not place me on this earth to be alone. So I will keep asking my questions out loud.

  37. Thanks for the post. I agree with you that sharing questions in a forum like this is not perhaps the best idea (and of course there are plenty of other places on the internet to find them). But I don’t quite agree that these questions should not be shared at appropriate times and appropriate places. I’m ever grateful to my parents who shared with me when I was young their believer’s perspective toward potentially thorny issues. Then when I encountered them later (they come even if I don’t seek them out) I already had a foundation of faith, a structure to place them in. Even “questions” I had forgotten them ever discussing somehow later landed on a part of my mind that was ready for them. I hope I can do the same for my kids.

  38. Loved the post. Thank you. Consider this. The temple recommend questions uses the word faith once. Do you have faith in and a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus and Holy Ghost. Testimony three times – Godhead, atonement and restoration. The question about church leaders is do you sustain. My faith is only in God. I sustain President Monson as his mouthpiece. What do you think?

  39. So, I really like a lot of this. I think it’s important to look out for the spiritual well-being of others. I do also, however, believe it is incredibly important for people to use the means that are comfortable for them in dealing with faith crisis. I never supposed I would be someone who would broadcast my doubts to the world but there was a point where I felt like I snapped and I just couldn’t go it alone anymore. I’m out of the country, far from family and close friends, most of my close friends are non-members, and I was suffering greatly from the dark night of the soul. I had little to no belief in even God anymore. And so, I put out a blog post talking about the pain and the anguish, the questions and the doubts. What happened after that was incredible. Dear friends from home and from my past circled their wagons around me, buoyed me up, and loved me. They helped me through my faith crisis. Now, I’m able to return that blessing as others who have been struggling with doubt come to me and ask, “how did you get through this? What can I do?” and I’m able to be part of their circle of support. As in all things, I think the answer of how to deal with questions and doubts is incredibly personal but yes, one should always approach the public sphere cautiously.

  40. I agree wholeheartedly and can only add that the person who has no questions is the one who has stopped learning. Questions are the seeds of future knowledge and we all need to seek more and better questions. Seems like Einstein made some comments about questions?

  41. “We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

    “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know…

    “Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak…

    “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

    “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

    “Wherefore, if meat [or doubtful questions] make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh [nor broadcast doubtful questions] while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend (1 Corinthians 8:1-2, 9, 11-13).

    * Note: “Offense” in this case means “to cause to stumble”.

    I believe Paul the Apostle would have written a similar epistle as you just did, MMM. Well done! And thank you.

  42. Very interesting. As far as the venue goes, I think we will often be told the appropriate venue….if we listen.

    I am one of those who love studying the “mysteries” of the gospel. that being sometimes minutia, and some of the more subtle aspects that come only through study. It basically goes back to when the Lord said, over and over again….let he who has ears hear.
    That being said, a few years ago, when I was serving in a bishopric, I was caught in a bind when my speakers did not come to sacrement meeting. and I was stuck on the stand looking like a deer in the headlights. I resolved that I would have a dozen talks ready within the next month so that it would never happen again.
    I sat down to write 12 of the most eloquent talks ever written, which would enlighten the soul and provide the answers to nearly any question that anyone could come up with. I sat down, prayed and prepared to write…and what came out of it…..nothing.
    When I asked why, I heard….write about the basics, faith repentance, baptism and how to live the gospel in accordance with modern scripture. I thought, “nah, I want to write something great” to which the response was, what do my apostles speak about at conference?”

    I wrote talks on faith, repentance, baptism, tithing, and the importance of the youth programs. The eloquance of the “mysteries” were for me alone, and those that might ask, in a private setting.

  43. I woke up to a stack of comments, and decided not to post many of them. Those that I chose to delete were for the following reasons:

    1) They were novels, and took me longer to read than it took to write the post.

    2) The commenter did not read the post well enough to be commenting.

    3) The commenter wanted to use my blog for a platform to promote ideas that I think are false teachings.

    4) The commenters kept pushing the idea that I want to stick my head in the sand, rather than seek answers to questions. Which, if they had even read the piece, would understand just the opposite.

    Luckily, anyone can start their own blog. As for this one, I never intended it to be a place where all points of view can be discussed – only the POV that I think is correct.

    My blog, my rules.
    MMM

    • You are obviously not familiar with my blog, if you were, you would know that I post all sorts of comments. But sometimes I do filter them out. I know that you submitted a comment that wasn’t published. I hope you aren’t too disappointed. Here is my reasoning:
      1) It was over 850 words long! That isn’t a comment – that is an essay. I try to keep things moving, and interesting for my readers.
      2) You included this: ‘Again, you make an assumption about the motives of those who ask questions. Asking does not equal “pressuring the Lord.”‘ The people I would suggest are “pressuring the Lord” are the those who come out it newspaper articles stating that they “are pressuring the prophets and apostles…” I don’t need that agenda validated or supported here.
      3) I disagreed with most of your premise.

  44. Love the blog and that you demonstrate over and over that you come from a place of faith and testimony…….with a little bit of human frailty. You’re a grest representative for us Middle-age Mormons!

  45. MMM – thanks for your openness and honesty. It is clear from the many comments that you are not alone in staying true to the faith even though there are doubts. Many people have a very difficult time admitting that there are doubts – I couldn’t admit that for a long time.

    It is clear that you have sought answers to the questions and doubts. I would ask you, though, is it really “seeking” when you start with the answer you want and refuse to accept any other answer?

    • Although your question is a bit cynical, I will answer it. Please keep in mind, you don’t know me, but you can tell I am very opinionated. There have been many times I have gone to the Lord, or my leaders, seeking an answer with a predetermined outcome outcome in mind. Many of those times, my desires/will were shot down, and I ended up with an answer that I didn’t want, or didn’t like. Sometimes that is hard to accept, but that requires a dose of humility.

  46. Wow, when you told me you were going to list the things you don’t like, I was all, “Oh no.” You totally got me. Thank you for expressing this so well. It feels great to have others uplift you in your faith instead of being all adamant about all the things that they feel should be done how they see fit.

  47. This is great. I love what you say about not wanting to put doubt in others while you find your answers. There are many who love to spread seeds of doubt under the guise of seeking truth. Even if they are of honest intent they don’t see the damage they are causing. Let’s say you expose me to a doubt I didn’t have. You might find resolution a week later, but now it is a stumbling block for me.

    I wrote a blog about this too http://www.mormonmediareviews.com/2012/08/the-new-anti-mormon-campaign.html

  48. As an Elderly Mormon Woman I’ve lived long enough to gain some expertise in several areas and have taught some of what I know at various times. Even in those areas where I know quite a lot I still have much to learn. This is especially true of the Gospel. I recently returned from a national conference about a subject I have studied for several years, and I came back ‘stuffed’ with information and answers to questions. I do not know of any other church that offers the same idea of a general conference of all with interest in the teachings of the church. I can hardly wait for Saturday, October 5.

  49. I love this! If you don’t go to Heavenly Father with questions, if you don’t look for new things to ask about, how are we ever expected to progress? Blindly following without asking why we do it, does not prepare us for eternity. Blindly following and asking why, so that you can learn, will lead to important lessons and even more important results. Follow the prophet, but always ask why the Lord’s asked us to do something, so we can learn and better apply and follow the commandments we are given.

  50. Nice work, as usual. I think it all comes down to faith — I try to hold onto what I know to be true, and have hope that someday I’ll comprehend the things I don’t understand today. Line upon line, precept on precept. If God and His servants have been right about so many things so far, they are surely right about other things, even if I don’t quite see all the reasons clearly yet.

  51. I love questions! Excellent blog, by the way 🙂
    Side note: you said “I have never considered myself smarter than God…” Well, I have. I was wrong. It hurt.

    But I digress – questions are wonderful! And I think the most beautiful thing about the restored Gospel is that we have the divine guarantee that our questions will be answered! I personally take issue with people who are content to wait until the next life to get those answers – yes, we get our answers on the Lord’s time, but (and I’ve got general authorities to back me up on this) it is usually He that is waiting on us. There’s my two bits. Now as for questions – I’m kind of running low. Yes, I suppose that’s my own fault for not trying hard enough, but still, I really could use more questions (because questions, in this church, inevitably lead to answers!). I assume my contact information is available to you by virtue of my posting this comment, so perhaps if you feel so inclined you could share a few of your more interesting questions with me? They might give me some new things to study and ponder 🙂

    Thanks!

  52. A good read. I believe very strongly in the Gospel. I also believe in searching. The only quibble I would have is that you seem to be saying it is okay to ask questions–as long as they are the right kind, and not too many. I say they cannot be contained.

    But I agree that a man, in this area, must always keep his own counsel.

    • As others said, a very good read. When the Seattle Temple was being built (back in 1979), I was handed a list of 100 questions that a “temple worker” put together attacking the church in general and the temple ordinances. I decided to keep the list and answer (for myself) every question. It was a wonderful growing experience for me. I threw out about 1/3 of the questions as being trivial (“Why are Adam and Eve shown eating an apple?”) and answered the rest over a period of time through study and faith. Over 30 years later, I still love the gospel and the temple.

  53. I find that, as I learn in any area, I discover even more that I don’t know. My profession is computer science. 35 years ago I knew a large percentage of the field’s information. After decades of additional learning, I’d say I know less than 1%. Having questions is not the problem — in fact, the smarter you are, the more questions you have. The problem is the perspective we take. Is the question a problem or is it a learning opportunity?

    Investigators without questions are investigators who aren’t interested.

    Unfortunately, what I see, sometimes, are people who, because they don’t know how to solve a partial differential equation, begin to question arithmetic. That’s just being silly. (And I say this as someone who used to be able to solve partial differential equations.)

    God answers my prayers. The Holy Spirit has testified of the Book of Mormon and of God’s modern prophets. I know this. What I don’t know does not reduce what I do know.

    But let me share the one thing I did learn from an anti-Mormon tract. Do not ever give false testimony. Do not bear witness of things you do not know. If you do, you stop searching for a real witness from the spirit and call into question the witness of those who do know. If you search and ask, the Lord will, in his time, reveal the truth to you. But if you don’t search and substitute trite phrase for a real witness, you may never learn. Do not allow your children to offer memorized phrases as if they were a real testimony. Instead, ask them, “how do you know?” If they don’t have an answer, teach them how to gain a real testimony.

  54. First of all, I’m very sorry to hear you’ve had seriously negative comments. If we didn’t have questions, would there be any reason to be here, on earth I mean, well I suppose to receive a body, and baptism and other ordinances. Every time I go through a ‘trial’ and come through it have a great deal of learning, I think I’m finished, I’m finally on that level that I’ll be able to go home, (silly me). I have a deep testimony that Heavenly Father knows each on of us on a very personal level, much better than we know ourselves. My husband passed through the veil 5 years ago, and it’s only been a few months ago that I realized that if he were still here, in mortality, I would never have had the opportunities to grow in the amazing ways I have grown, spiritually. Although I miss him, I know he and other family members are surrounding me and my family to help us through our trials, both large and small.

    Love your posts, love your insight, love the way you make me think.

  55. I wish I could tell you how much this blog post means to me. Not only the blog post, but the reactions I’ve heard that you’ve received from it. I recently had an article of mine published to Deseret News that has received a fair amount of criticism. I think what makes it so hurtful is that I tried to write from the heart without any intention of judging. A kind friend of mine passed this on along with your response on facebook telling people to get off facebook and do something productive. I can’t tell you how much I needed to read that today. Thank you for writing honestly and having the courage to write something that some people may not understand.

  56. I’ve never pondered all the intricacies of this thought thread that you have going MMM. I love the way you think and I am inspired that you can put your thoughts to “paper” and others can respond.
    My box is very small – in fact I don’t think I have a box…. I am past middle-aged, even if I live to be 100, but I feel wiser and more faithful through my life experiences and that brings such happiness. Gratitude in all that I DO KNOW and all of the great learning there is out there to grasp onto, keeps me inspired and uplifted. Progress til’ the end (and beyond)…. Thank you for your inspirational thoughts.

  57. Cool. I do things without questioning then also. I don’t need my brain to do things for me, I have people smarter than me knowing what it’s best for me.

  58. Great read! Right on! Did I just give away my age? It has been my experience, over the years, that to those who sincerely desire to know the truth. They come line upon line, precept upon precept, over time, but they do come, and now I have found that all my questions have been answered. I’m all out of questions. It must be time for graduation . . . I hope.

  59. People should also know that there is great danger in treating revealed doctrine like civil rights. Public demonstrations (and the internet is included in “public”) do not change God’s mind. Even if church policy changes in the future to conform to whatever “cause” you adopt, does that make you a hero? No. You are just as disobedient as Saul making an unauthorized sacrifice and saving the sheep of the Amalekites.

  60. Special.
    I especially like 2) I have a testimony that Christ directs His church through living prophets. I love these 15 men, and have a testimony that they posses the keys to administer the priesthood, and are authorized to run the church. I truly believe that the Lord meant what he said in D&C 1:33: “Whether by mine own voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same.” That is part of my core testimony.

  61. Thank you. Your post was articulate and faith-promoting. It comes at a time when I really needed it. Thank you so much.

  62. I like the idea of the “box”. I’ve had one in use for a long time, it stand beside my bed(simbolic), and at night I usually stuff all my worries (little ones) in the box, one by one. Close de lid and then go to sleep at peace with everything and everybody. Even my doublts go in there and my questions which go unaswered. But in the morning I get up and dont think about them anymore. I know the Lord will help me through the day and will tell me how I can help someone who needs it. Sometimes reading scriptures I find answers that have been in the box for years. Then a visit to the temple empty the box some more, then I find the things kept in the box are not important anymore, as I found the answers without looking for them. I still have a few, but my patriarchal blessing promised me what is for me the greatest wish, that my family would be baptized. I’ve been waiting for that miracle and praying, that I’m sure the Lord must be at the end of His tether, just by listening to me, so I’ll put this in my box and with faith will await His goodwill. and I will remember His time is not My time. It is written in the scripture that He has the power to prepare the hearts of some people – so that He can enter, there is no reason why He should not do this with MY family, just as He did it for the sons of Alma … anyway for now it is in the box!!!

  63. Great post. If I could add one thing (if this were my list, which it’s not, but if it were…well, you get the point)…..11. I can receive revelation about things pertaining to me (for instance, I believe strongly in marriage equality and equality for women (no I did not say the OW words). I do NOT have the power to have revelations for the Church. That’s how we can have diversity of thought in our faith. This diversity and knowledge has personally brought me to a greater understanding of a couple of concepts that are taught in the scriptures. First: Trust in our personal relationship with God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost that we were given at Baptism. We are taught to be agents of action. This means it’s OK to question, it’s OK to feel differently (passionately different even) than someone else in my congregation, and it’s OK to trust in that personal revelation (even if it feels like it’s contradictory to mainstream thought). Second: Patience. Many people have left the Church because they feel like the Church is not progressing at the level they should (again with the jumping rank), or they feel like they’ve discovered the “real truth”or that the Church is just plain “wrong” on some things. They are sorely missed, and I hope we as members of the Church can do right by them and love them enough so they can truly feel it, whatever path they choose. And you know what? I’m sure the Church IS wrong on some things. For heaven’s sake, it is run by HUMANS after all (Elder Holland said something in conference that was along the lines of…it must be frustrating for God to work through us, but that’s all He has..) It is a human organization with Christ as the head. He has got to go thru a whole bunch of human filters and human shortcomings, but He does just fine doesn’t He? I have wrestled with some hard questions of late. And I have received personal revelation that seems different than the mainstream Church. But it’s not “different,” or “wrong.” Heavenly Father has made that very clear to me. He has also made it clear that I need to have patience (which is something this redhead is not used to doing) and recognize that change will happen. That I need to study and listen more, and talk less (my dad used to tell me that we were given two ears and only one mouth for a reason). That I need to TRUST HIM that he knows what He’s doing, and that either the Church will change (continuing revelation) or I will (personal revelation). For instance…I don’t believe that it was “wrong” that there was a huge group of people that really believed strongly that all men should have the priesthood before the revelation came, and it wasn’t “wrong” that the revelation from the Church officially didn’t happen until 1978. All it meant was that the timelines were different. Perhaps the huge group of faithful Church members had personal revelations (who knows, none of my business). Every one of us is progressing at different levels. Consider this analogy: I think of the Church like a big huge snowball going down a hill (stay with me here, I’m not saying going “downhill” like it’s a bad thing…it IS where the warm lodge is after all, and frankly, when you’re skiing on a hill that IS our goal…to get to the bottom). If you’ve even seen a snowball doing that, it gains size and momentum the further down the hill it goes. And there are pieces that roll on ahead, there are pieces that lag behind a little, and there are pieces that go off in different directions. The ones that are lagging aren’t wrong. The ones that are going ahead aren’t wrong. The ones that go off in different directions aren’t wrong. The big snowball isn’t wrong. It’s just what it is. The snowball is the Church, and we are the little pieces that may stay right with the big ball…lag behind a bit, go ahead a bit, or off in different directions. But the main point is to STAY WITH THE SNOWBALL if you want to get to the bottom of the hill. The snowball can’t go any faster than it is to “catch up” with the pieces screaming down the hill faster, because then they’d lose the precious ones from behind. It’s not the big snowball’s job to “catch up” or “slow down” anyway. The snowball’s job is to get to the bottom of the hill. Our job is to be with it. Make sense?

    • Interesting thoughts, although I do disagree on one point: THe ones who are ahead of the snowball, behind the snowball, or off in different directions ARE wrong. Either they are wrong in belief, purpose or timing, or a combination of those. Anytime someone “thinks they know better” is guilty of pride and/or arrogance at best.

      Having been a Scoutmaster and taken large groups of boys on hikes, I know there are always boys who are self-appointed leaders. They take off ahead of the group, thinking they are smarter than everyone else. And that is fun for them, until they get lost and we have to send out a search party to get them. Either they are with the group, in the right place, or they are not where they should be. No matter how good of hikers or foreword thinkers they think they are, eventually they MUST return to the camp where the real leaders are. One day the hike will be at it’s destination, and we had all better be with the main body – because if we are out wandering on our own paths, we aren’t on the ONE path.

  64. We don’t have to wait until we have 100% knowledge before we can act with 100% faith. -Jelaire Richardson (Mormon Women Stand)

  65. Why are members turning to blogs for answers? Sometimes, I wonder if right now, when I have witnessed many leave the church via social media, that the cliché of not having a safe place to ask questions, because the church’s stance is that it’s not safe to question (which is the direct opposite of what it teaches), but I see that mentality manifest in myself at times. For example, I am in my 30’s and I wouldn’t go and talk to my Bishop about questions. I would only go for certain sins, because that’s what I was taught. I wouldn’t ever talk to my parents about certain things in fear that they would fear for my salvation. In reality, we all have questions. I personally have a blog that is shared with 3 friends and we receive questions and we direct them to scripture, lds.org, family, and local leaders. However, I am grateful that they feel like they have a safe place to ask questions where there is no shame in it. It has also helped me in my own study. I am not out to look for stumbling blocks, but if it increases my study, prayer, and temple attendance to understand and feel God’s love for me more then I count it a blessing. I am not that smart either so I don’t have big lofty goals of being able to answer the questions, but I’m grateful to point them in a direction that would foster love and where they can receive and feel their answers in the Lords time.

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