Wednesday, January 5

Deepening Faith: the 11th Day of Christmas

I have some amazing friends who do some pretty cool stuff for the Church. I had a chance to talk with two tonight. They don't work together... But both mentioned recently thinking about core principles in helping others grow... and both had come to the realization I had on Sunday morning - that, in order to help others grow or overcome their trials, we help them deepen their faith in Jesus Christ and develop a greater relationship with God.

I thought it was amazing that both men echoed the same thoughts, across fields, callings, and experiences in life... and amazing that I had heard it twice before. Once on Sunday... and once again just a few days ago. 

I have another good friend who is a General leader in the Church. He's crazy busy, but I visited him this last week and we took time to talk about life in the months since we had seen each other. He talked about his responsibilities, and then we started talking about our shared passion - people, and understanding how to help them grow. As he spoke, I thought about this blog, the struggle I face, and all the issues that surround it. Was there a common theme that I could glean from his experiences working in the councils of the Church? The theme I saw in our conversation was the importance of suiting gospel teaching to the individual... focusing on the good and letting it overshadow and overpower the evil... and how do we accomplish that? By teaching nothing but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance on His name... and allowing the Spirit to give light and speak according to the understanding of those we love.

That is the answer. And it's what helped me to stay alive. When I felt like life was going to end... when depression, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, pain, and everything else were at their height... how did I survive? I placed my faith in God, deepened my commitment to Him, and as my faith grew, it washed over to help ease my pain. That's how reading the scriptures could help me conquer addiction, and how improving my prayers helped with depression. Better quality temple worship made me a better friend... and finding ways to serve my fellow men gave me hope when days were dark with pain. As I focused on improving my faith where I could, it made up the difference and gave me strength to grow in areas once impossible.

And I moved on... and as my faith has grown, my ability to weather the trials of life has increased. Depression that used to incapacitate me for days now opens a door... and I visit family members or find something positive to do. Feelings of attraction for a guy push me to talk to him and see him as a person instead of an object. And questions for God... before sent to the Heavens without seeming responses, are now often answered in the very moment I pray, or, at most, long before I can ask another mortal.

That's the theme behind every email I send, too... and it feels like it is the theme in every mortal life. It's all just finding ways to increase faith most - finding what will have the greatest impact and moving forward there. It's not discounting the problem, but focusing on faith... and allowing the deepening power of faith to flow in and solve the insolvable, fix the unfixable, and explain the unexplainable. Faith is pretty awesome.


  1. "Feelings of attraction for a guy push me to talk to him and see him as a person instead of an object."

    GREAT point. I think this is something everyone, regardless of his or her gender or sexual orientation, can work on. Today, I was thinking about what I would do if I had a gay child (I have no children yet). I don't think that dating rules would be any different from dating rules for a straight child... before the age of 16, get to know other kids in groups or in adult-supervised one-on-one situations. Go on group dates starting at age 16 (this is where it gets tricky: I'd only want to allow heterosexual dates. If the child protested I'd probably remind him or her that the purpose of dates is not yet romantic, but rather to learn how to get to know someone in a dating situation), hold off on physical affection or long-term commitment: get to know people as PEOPLE. Avoid pornography. Then, when you are an adult, you will have learned the valuable skill of seeing others - regardless of whether or not you are sexually attracted to them - as human beings, and you will be able to deal with long-term relationships and physical affection in a mature way. I think that I would also feel comfortable letting a gay child choose for him or herself to pursue a gay lifestyle or not at this point without feeling responsible for influencing him or her to make the wrong decision (whatever that is...your post re: "What if God asked you to find a husband?" is an important reminder that we never know what another person's motives for his or her decisions really are)...teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves, right?

    I don't know why I'm often preoccupied with things like this. Although I personally don't struggle with SGA (at least not so far), I do struggle with the Church's view of homosexuality as sinful and especially with the political implications of that view, but I'm trying to work through those struggles through faith and research.

  2. Anon:

    That's an important point - to teach correct principles and let them govern themselves. But something you said makes me want to stress a point. We usually equate sin with evil - and claiming that God's children are inherently evil is where we begin to feel uncomfortable. But sin is much more... and, in my view of the world, sin is anything that leads to lasting unhappiness... just as righteousness leads to lasting and eternal happiness. They're fixed opposites - objective, expository laws that enable us to choose between lasting happiness and lasting misery. Anyone who sees that clearly would obviously choose to be happy... but we sometimes allow ourselves to be blinded... or we wrest the scriptures and refuse to believe what has been clearly stated by the prophets. If I ever have children... and they live with this struggle, I will fight for their happiness tooth and nail... which means I will do everything in my power to encourage them to keep the commandments - all of them - for as long as I live.

    Thanks for your comment.


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