By: shenpa warrior
Losing my religion Wrestling with God
“Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet… There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).”
I have a testimony of this.
Or rather, a testimony of the inverse of this: If you don’t always hear the voice of the Lord coming from your leaders, you may end up wrestling with God. I’m not sure what it means to have the “powers of darkness” dispersed from before me, or the heavens shaking for my good, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t always felt comfortable in some aspects of my faith.
At some point on my mission I realized that my mission president (who inspires me to this day) wasn’t perfect. Not just in “gets angry once in a while” or “makes small mistakes” kind of way, but more of an “honestly and with good intentions did things that did not work” kind of way (although I still followed him with exactness – he was a great mission president).
This realization that inspired and respected leaders can error in meaningful ways, began the process of my naive belief structure going the way of all the earth. Almost a decade later, I was again confronted with a significant issue that made me think of this quote from HBL – it took patience and faith. It contradicted my political views. It contradicted my social (READ: family) views. It hasn’t interfered with my social life, unless the Social Network counts. I “listened to these things as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself” but could not hear His voice.
I testify that Harold B. Lee was correct – I did not hear the voice of the Lord, and I did not receive the promised blessing. This event was the nail in the coffin for my old ways of listening for the voice of God in my leaders. I no longer could believe anything without putting it past my heart and mind first. “Sustaining” church leaders went from “They speak for the Lord” to “I usually agree but when I’m conflicted I hope they eventually get it right.”
I have also gained a testimony of something else through all of this: Church and religion and faith are not “easy” (at least not for me) if you seek out people who are different from yourself and try to empathize and understand. Faith is more challenging if you don’t surrender your agency and decide to believe in your Self first. Church isn’t as easy when your Self and the message are not in harmony. I think I know a little of what it means to wrestle with God now.
I miss the old me. It was easier. Now it feels like I have to work.