Sunday, August 2
It feels like we are dividing. On the one hand, more and more people are devoting their lives to God. On the other, more and more are turning away. And there are fewer and fewer people in the middle.
I'm aware enough of reality that I realize this may be a microcosmic event - one that is just happening in my little world. A handful of my cousins are being married in the temple, making choices to move forward, determining how to best follow God... while others I know are just as clearly choosing to move away from God. Going from full activity in the Church, sharing heartfelt testimony, and helping people change their lives one month to actively dating the same gender the very next. But I feel like it's bigger than just my little world. It feels like all over, people are making their decision - *the* decision - to completely dedicate their lives to God or to follow their own paths.
I'm not sure why it feels so extreme. I remember not all that long ago, people's testimonies would slowly begin to struggle, atrophy, die, and then their habits would change just as slowly. It was slow, painstaking, and deceptively minute with each step. People still do that. But more and more often, people today seem to undergo that same process - one that often took years - in a matter of weeks. And people I had a powerful gospel conversations with just a few months ago have already left the Church and told everyone there is no chance of their coming back.
It's not surprising that it is happening. The world itself seems to be dividing on the topic of God - with one side pushing Him entirely out of the public sphere, and the other fighting to keep Him at the forefront. It's the topic in the news, in politics, everywhere I look.
But what can I do about it?
I'm terrible at making friends. I'm socially awkward. I don't pick up on social cues. When someone I know is struggling, I sometimes can't tell. But even when I can get to know someone, and I know they need my help, is my effort really enough to make a difference?
Today in Sacrament meeting I found myself watching people. Looking at their faces and going through the few things I know about them... and wondering what spiritual trials they face. The two men who left halfway through testimony meeting - what is happening in their lives? The people who sit quietly alone, or the people who arrive on time with honest smiles, or the people who are visibly hiding their stress for an hour or three - what are their lives like? What are the solutions to the complex circumstances that give them spiritual pain?
And is that even the right approach?
I had a dream once where I was in a war. I've written about it before... and I don't want to take the time to explain it all or to cut it short. But, in that dream, as I thought about how to fight a war in a world full of darkness, where both sides were comprised of people I knew, and where lethal weapons were made of light, I had the prompting to turn my focus inward. To shine the light in my hand on myself. And to burn the impurities out of my own life. And, once I had, to encourage others to do the same.
Remembering that dream right now is probably not just simple coincidence. I was asking the same question then that I'm asking now... and I guess that's the answer I'm looking for. I don't have to have the answers to people's questions to make a difference. I don't have to know exactly how to address their concerns, have a silver bullet of faith, or understand exactly what they are going through to help them to find peace in their trials. I just need to be able to improve my relationship with God in my own life... and then encourage others to do the same. That's how all of us will find answers in our lives - by turning to God.
That said, it seems a hundred times easier, but still hard. How easy can it be to show up at someone's door and encourage them to turn to God?
But how hard can it be?
Maybe I don't have all the answers. Maybe I don't know exactly what to say. Maybe I'm socially awkward... and even socially broken. But I can turn to God, and encourage someone else to do the same.
And that's enough to make a difference.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 2:32 PM