Monday, December 7, 2015

Messy Faith

"Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."
Isaiah 6:10

I'm exhausted. The things going on in my life have me flat-on-my-back emotionally and physically. I don't even have the energy to put up a tree this year (but I'm going to do it anyways.) School, two wards, work, friends, and family all have their demands and/or expectations, and I haven't got anything to give.

I'm not a very good Mormon. I don't make casseroles to take to people. I have no time for crafts. I can't even get my visiting teaching done (but there's always next month to do it right!, my VT Supervisor says.) I feel pretty good even when I make cookies or something to take to my neighbors. My testimony is "complicated," as I put it when trying to explain it in RS yesterday. Unlike the woman on the back row, I DO doubt, I have doubted, and I AM doubting, but I know "by my own experience" that faith and doubt most certainly can occupy the same space at the same time. Because my faith isn't about "feeling good" about something. It is, and always has been, a raw choice for me. I can't explain my turbulence of emotion and how I have come to float on top of it. But I have. I'd be a bad liberal, too, if I were one, for the exact same types of reasons.

I want to give more, and I wonder if it is truly exhaustion or mundane selfishness which keeps me from having more to give. My friends don't come to me when they need help. I'm a friendly acquaintance on the edge of a given group of true friends. Which is natural, given that I am rarely available for...well...much of anything, really. My dream in life is to spend a week having to do nothing. Goodness, even a day would be almost as good as a happily-ever-after.

I feel all the more helpless as I watch people angry at the Church and turning away. Not because I care about the numbers, but because I know that the discipline of remaining in a Church I have never truly felt a part of has deepened my relationship with God and pushed me out of my comfort zone and into His service. Being too stubborn to give up or pretend to be someone I'm not has been my greatest blessing. I don't have a testimony that membership in the Church will bind up MY broken heart. It is more often the cause of it. Yet, I know where the truth is. Like Peter, where else would I go?

That knowledge is my rock. It has taught me to recognize divinity when I see it. (It's not what I thought.) I wish I could take a piece of that perspective and share it, but I don't know how to describe it. Any attempt I make would look woefully inadequate beside the huge stone of pain and grievance against the Church...a stone that seems to grow greater and harder every day. There are too many of you who are in pain. I can't help. I can't convince anyone to see things the way I see them. Goodness, I don't even really know why I see them that way. Near as I can tell, I might be crazy. At this point, that wouldn't surprise me.

So I watch people exercising their agency to be hurt and angry, but unlike many of those who love the Church, I don't condemn. I too well know the need to be hurt and angry when I'm hurt and angry. I know what it is like to feel trapped, smothered by my own beliefs and convictions. I know what it is like to be betrayed by people you thought were there for you. And I want to wrap everyone who hurts in a giant metaphysical fuzzy blanket, and feed them hot chocolate and molasses cookies (or whatever baked good floats their boat.) Even though none of them would really want that, and would probably aim some of their anger at me for trying.

I want to listen to them, hug them. Show them how to heal. Show them that pain, frustration, and anger don't have to run their lives. That they are only hurting themselves, that there is a view of the world which sees that ugliness, but recognizes it as the only viable setting for beauty.

A long time ago, I wanted—more than anything—to have it said of me when I died that I had served the Lord. Just this last weekend, I realized that now I want my life to be a testimony of Him. I want nothing more than to glorify His name, demonstrate His power and grace. I, a broken, "complicated," barely Mormon girl made whole by His power. I don't know what my life will hold. I don't know if the blessings I long for will ever be mine. But I want my life, my words and actions, to inspire people to reach towards Him, to forgive their brothers and sisters of their faults and imperfections, their offenses and their ignorance.

It is easy to go to the internet, virtually surrounded by people who feel just as frustrated and hurt as you, and vent your spleen into the ether. It is easy, and satisfying, and helps the pain just a little. But it's not enough for me. I don't only want to siphon off the poison, I want to be healed. And I want to heal. I want to teach, exhort, and be edified. I want to walk in the meekness of His Spirit. To be free of selfishness, free of worrying about my own pain, free of fighting to be respected or for everything to be made better. I want to open my eyes, unstop my ears, open my mouth and just simply belt out the song of redeeming love. Even though I know that my song is rejected, and can't really help anyone.

I told you I couldn't explain it.

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  1. SilverRain, if we are indeed judged by the desires of our hearts, as well as our deeds, then you will indeed be known as one who served the Lord. Against all odds, & in the face of pain & frustration, you do your best to glorify His name while trying to comfort those around you. In the DVD on Ephraim's Rescue, a woman calls him a holy man, & he responds that he has so many shortcomings that she could not count them all. Then she asks how he is able to do so much good, & he replies, "I try." For what it is worth, more than anything else, I think the Lord loves those who try. Those who get up when they fall down, or are knocked down, & try again. And again. And again.

  2. I can never explain it when I try either. This is as good a shot as any. :)

    When I look at my own life, it seems I'm not very good at making "friends". I'm great at empathizing and have worked on listening well, but there's some indescribable factor that just seems to be missing in making that last step.

    Continued best wishes to your family. :)


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