Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Thank you to all those who wrote to me or called me after my letter about not fitting in. I really am ok. I am not depressed or anything. I’ve had several “not fitting in” experiences my whole life, but I just happened to have about three of them in the same month so I wrote about it to help process my thoughts and so that my children and my children’s children can read them when they might have similar feelings. I was comforted to hear that so many of you who get my letter have had similar experiences where you have felt like you don’t fit in, but kept your standards anyway. I know that “I never stand alone when I stand with God” (Steven Kapp Perry, I Never Stand Alone), but sometimes that can feel lonely. It is nice to know that I have many friends and family who are standing with me.
I have some other thoughts that have been on my mind that I want to record for my children and posterity. It has to do with a post a cousin made on Facebook. She posted that it is a positive thing for members of the church to offer a dissenting opinion about curriculum and rules. Here’s a quote, “It’s difficult for dissenters, but it’s vital that Mormonism has them. The healthiest organizations are not the ones that shut down dissent or pretend that everyone is always in agreement. They’re the ones that allow multiple points of view to inform their decision making process.” I thought a lot about that post.
I agree that members of the church with differing opinions should not be shut down and that we should not pretend that everyone agrees, but sometimes when people disagree about something, it gets blown out of perspective and they forget about the testimony of truths they’ve already gained. If I have, or if someone I love has questions or if we don’t agree with something in the church or some of its leaders, I think it is important to remember to look to understand the doctrine and reasons. Look for the good, do not pick apart and criticize. The devil will use contention to harden hearts, and dissent is a close cousin to that. That does not mean that you cannot ask questions, seek to understand, seek to be understood, and help to make positive change, but it does mean that you have to be very careful not to miss out on the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store from following the prophets and living his doctrine. It is also important to remember that the Lord’s ways are higher than our ways or other man’s ways and sometimes He may have reasons we don’t understand or know about. (Isaiah 55:9) We should look for the good in those who have questions and concerns and love them and help them find faith, remember the faith they already have, and learn together.
We should not to rest on someone else’s revelation and testimony no matter who it is. God gave us the gift of personal revelation because he expects us to ask questions. He expects us to study, think, and come to come to Him. But we need to live and continue to live the gospel standards and doctrine to come to know for ourselves of the validity of them. When something comes along that I don’t understand, first I try to live it to understand it, like Jesus states, “if any man will do His will he will know of the doctrine.” (John 7:17) I know the Lord’s promises are sure because I’ve tested the Lord’s word from scripture and from past and current prophets and I have received blessings, knowledge, peace, etc. When we have tested God’s words in the past, no future obedience can really be blind obedience because we know His words are sure.
In the Book of Mormon there were many groups of people who dissented from the Nephites (Zoramites, Amalekites, Amulonites, etc.). They stoned the prophets and cast them out from among them. As a result, they lost the protection that comes from listening to and heeding the prophets' words and they were destroyed. The prophets and apostles are not perfect, but they are doing their best. We have to use faith to support and sustain each other. Just as the early Book of Mormon saints had to live the Law of Moses even though they knew Jesus Christ would come and the law would be dead, we may have to live temporary laws that lead us closer to perfection.
If we take a cafeteria approach to living the gospel and dissent from certain standards or doctrine, that puts us on a slippery slope. We may be able to hang on to part or most of our testimony, but our children and our children’s children may not. They can see our partial obedience and then they most likely will be partially obedient to the things we live. Pretty soon they may be out of the church all together. In the Book of Mormon there are instances recorded where apostasy happened after 1-2 generations.
Anyway, those are the thought I wanted to record for my children and grandchildren. Hopefully they will be helpful to them. I love them and want all the blessings that come from having your feet firmly planted on gospel sod for them.
P.S. Where does the phrase firmly planted on gospel sod come from? I looked it up but couldn’t find a quote for it. I know I’ve heard more than once before.