Rehearsing your doubts

This last weekend the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked us to “stop increasing [our] doubts by rehearsing them with other doubters.” I felt uncomfortable when I heard this. This post is my effort to work through that discomfort. I hope the doubters and the non-doubters will find something valuable in this post.

For the non-doubters, I hope you recognize the wonderful gift you have been given. It is not, as Paul told the Corinthians, a gift that everyone receives: some receive knowledge, some receive faith. This implies not all do. Joseph Smith said something similar: some receive knowledge and others simply believe in their words. It may seem strange that someone would remain in the Church without that gift. I hope we can simply celebrate that they choose to remain, rather than criticize them for gifts they have not received.

For most my life, I had the gift of solid faith in Christ and that this is His church. But sometime over the last decade, that gift was taken from me. I have had to rebuild my faith without it. I went from confidently pronouncing it’s truth to wrestling with God to figure out what was true. I’ve never considered leaving the church; the alternatives don’t resolve my questions satisfactorily. I have rebuilt my faith, but it looks different than it did 10 years ago. The process has led to lots more questions.

In asking some of these questions, I’ve received some pushback. I’ve been told certain forums aren’t the correct place to ask certain questions. I think that’s right. It’s never wrong to ask a question, but who you ask and when matters. I think the error we make is saying, “This isn’t the right place,” without having an answer for what is the right place.

Doubts will arise. Questions will be asked. Who do we want to answer?

If only the doubters will listen, then we shouldn’t be surprised when those with doubts go to them. The prophet didn’t say don’t doubt. He didn’t say don’t express doubt. He said to take our doubts to the Lord and faithful sources. He said to choose faith.

My plea to fellow believers is to be a faithful source. Be welcoming and loving. Be an example of choosing faith. As Peter counseled, “be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” This requires something of us. We must be willing to listen to hard questions. We must be willing to ask those questions if we haven’t before. Otherwise, how can we be a faithful source? The process is uncomfortable but when we ask hard questions and “remove the debris,” our foundation will only be strengthened. Then we will be a supporting pillar, rather than a stumbling block.

My plea to the doubters echoes the prophet’s: seek out faithful sources in addition to the doubters. We can’t learn how to do something without speaking to those who successfully do it. If you need someone who will listen, I always have an open ear.

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