In my personal life, I have had opportunities to ponder what it means to be a member of this Church. As I watch people with experiences like mine churn against the practices and doctrines of the Church, I wonder if it is only a matter of time before I, too, fall away. Insight into why I can't seem to give up has come slowly and piecemeal. I'm not sure there is one large answer. All I know, is that I cannot turn my back on this Church any more than Joseph Smith could deny that he had seen a vision. It is not a perfect Church, and I do not understand it all. But I know it is Christ's church, and I can't deny it.
Not long before I graduated with a 4-year degree in veterinary medicine, I looked into vet schools. In the two years of my study, I had not truly realized how difficult it was to get into vet school, nor how expensive it was once you got there. I had spent two years carrying nearly the maximum credit load while working the full 20 hours/week I was allowed to work. I pulled a high B average, which is not bad but was less than I was capable of. I had gone year-round, and I was exhausted.
I moved to a large city, and applied to every job I thought I could do. Because I had worked my way through college doing computer design, I applied both to vet tech/assistant positions and to graphic design positions. I wanted vet school, but I was concerned about the debt I would have to accrue. I didn't know what I should do, so I did both.
One interview was especially promising. The veterinarian was older. He told me that one of his favorite things to do was to hire newly graduated veterinary science proteges and sponsor them into and through vet school. He said that he would hire me, and if I was good at my job, he would write letters of recommendation to the school of my choice. Because of his connections, the chance of me getting into school was very good. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.
I went home and prayed. For a few days, I weighed pros and cons. Eventually, I knew what I had to do. Sorrowfully, I accepted a graphic design position. I have hardly worked with animals since. That part of me which I loved is shelved, perhaps permanently.
Because I took a graphic design job, I was able to serve a mission.
Because I served a mission, I lived with my parents for six months and got a retail job, where I met my ex-husband.
Because I met and married him, I went through the most soul-rending experience of my life (so far.)
Because my heart was shattered to pieces, I determined to do what I could to help others like me.
Because of that, I have more than once been blessed to reach out and help people who need me.
God's ways are truly mysterious. It didn't seem so at the time, but every in my life which has happened since has pivoted on that decision so long ago. My broken heart and forced humility is beginning to teach me the charity I have been praying for since college. It was a circuitous, unforeseeable series of events, but it is clear to me that it has been carefully guided by God.
Franklin D. Richards once said, "Undoubtedly the greatest evidence of righteousness in a person is to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer without any qualifications, and an evidence of this is to live the doctrine, 'Thy will be done, not mine.'”
I am not there yet. My heart is broken, though my spirit is not always contrite. Some days, I can barely tread water. Others, I feel like I am flying, but on nothing but prayers.
Dear Reader, whom I likely do not know except by the unifying thread of the Spirit of the Lord, the Lord is there for us. As you and I put our desires aside, as we learn to accept the Lord's perspective over our own, and as we learn to forgive ourselves and others for our failures, we will see the power of God.
I know this because if He can reach out His hand to heal my heart, He will certainly heal yours. I don't know what secret sorrows you hold in your heart. I don't know if, like mine, your heart aches with homesickness and your soul hides the terrified conviction that you will never go home again. But please trust that God who gives you life. He loves you. His will is always your welfare, your "immortality and eternal life."
Choose to love the leaders of this Church in all their imperfection. Choose to love the children of God as they fight their way through this life. Choose humility and love, not only of those you perceive as downtrodden, but even though who look like they have everything. We are in this boat together, and love has to start somewhere. Let it be you. Place God's will first, and you will be blessed.
Let Him bless you.