In this post you will find some thoughts and some resources on having doubts as a Mormon.
First, some of my thoughts.
As Mormons we enjoy a special spot in the world’s debate about religion. First, we get to receive the negative attentions of the anti-religious groups out there – those who would fight against any religion, Mormon or not. Second, we also have the pleasure of receiving the negative pressure of much of the mainstream religions in the world. For example, it is not uncommon to find a diverse group of Christians coming together in an online forum or chat room somewhere to encourage a struggling member of one denomination or another, but the moment a Mormon expresses concern, doubt, or discouragement, the majority response tends to be to say “Well, Mormonism! There’s your problem!”
Now I know that I’m talking in sweeping generalities and that’s simply not fair. But when facing discouragement, when facing doubts, it can surely feel that the whole world is turned against you – or more persuasively, sometimes it seems that the whole world is reaching out, offering a hand of fellowship if only you’ll just step away from that pesky religion called Mormonism.
In those moments it can be difficult to sense what is right. What once seemed so clear suddenly seems murky and the ideas that once seemed so wrong now seem shockingly appealing. The past is uncertain and the future unclear. The mists of darkness seem all encompassing and the iron rod just can’t seem to be found.
If you are in that moment, I invite you to hold on. You cling to that iron rod. I quote from Elder Holland:
There is a lesson in the life of Moses that virtually everyone will experience one day. It is the sobering truth that before or after great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, as the adversary tries either to keep us from receiving revelation or to make us doubt the light we have received…
Paul said to those who thought a new testimony, a personal conversion, or a spiritual experience would put them beyond trouble, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Heb. 10:35–36).
In LDS talk that is to say, “Sure it is tough. But don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had.” That tenacity is what saved Moses when the adversary confronted him, and it is what will save you.
There comes moments like this into all of our lives. Each of us, eventually, has to face that challenge to what we know, to what we’ve been taught, and, most importantly, to what we have experienced in the past. Sometimes it seems that all there is to church is endless chair stacking and council meetings, with no God at all behind it. I believe that it is these moments that Peter calls the “trial of your faith.”
Lots of things can cause these times of doubt. An unexpected difficulty with family. An illness or injury. A new perspective on the gospel or on church history. A feeling of unanswered prayers. There are probably thousands of ways that doubts can creep in, but they all have the same effect: Doubts make you forget what you once knew.
The best antidote to fear, discouragement and doubt is to remember the moments in your life when the spirit has touched you. I know, it’s hard to do right now. In fact you’re likely thinking “I can’t recall any moment when the spirit touched me.” Give it some time and thought. Think about times when you may have shared your testimony, or how you felt at a church activity. Think about a time when the scriptures revealed a sudden insight for you, or gave needed comfort. Remember prayers which, though perhaps they seemed unanswered, brought special comfort or peace. Remember the gentle kindnesses of friends and family who seemed to know just what you needed. Remember the ways that you have served others and how it felt when you saw their spirits lifted.
As you ponder on the ways that the spirit has touched your life, the stress and the negative feelings will begin to dissipate. This, too, is an answer from God.
The overriding message of what I would say to you, if you are struggling with doubt, is this: Don’t give up. There is peace and revelation and sweet communion ahead. I know because I have been where you are now and I know what’s on the other side. You stick with it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the home of the authority and power of God and you will receive your portion of the blessings He has kept for they that love Him.
The heavens feel like brass sometimes, it’s true. Thick darkness can surround us so long that we forget what the kindly light looked like. Sometimes it just feels like all there is to life is a dark and dreary wilderness. Some times are worse than others. Keep going. Answers will come. For some people it is as simple as kneeling and asking. For others it is only after years of faithful study and searching. For some, a recognition of the peaceful, good feelings associated with church activities is enough to sustain them. For others, more is needed. In any case, your Father in Heaven knows what your unique needs are and will supply for you as you do your best to stick with Him. Continue in patience and faith. Answers will come. Peace will come. I promise it’s true.
Here are some resources which may help or encourage you.