I was anticipating a different subject or topic. I was desperately wishing for my mind to delve into something a bit more controversial – something political or the vast online schism that exists between faithful believers like me and the Joanna Brooks and John Dehlins of the Mormoniverse. There is certainly plenty of material in that market.
As I sat thinking, my head wanted to go to those provocative places, but my heart has brought me here – to testimony, faith, and belief.
I am a “true blue” Mormon. What I mean by that is, I truly believe in the truth claims of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe the Joseph Smith story. I believe that my Church is unique in its authority and spiritual power. I believe all of these things.
Yet my belief is not blind. Certain life experiences have taught me harsh and bitter lessons. I have tasted and seen and felt the “dark side” of mortality. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve made terrible mistakes. I’ve sinned. I’ve done things that violate what I believe to be right – and more than that, I’ve done some of those things repeatedly!
I have been betrayed, lied to, accused, and hurt by folks that were Mormon—and they should have known better! I had a bishop once (a bishop is a lay leader on a local scale) who treated me wrong. He legitimately did me wrong. That hurt!
And yet. And yet.
None of the bad destroyed the vital testimony I have had within my heart since a certain experience I had with God.
You see, I cannot deny the testimony that is within me. It is part of who I am. And I can go directly back to the place and time where that testimony was infused into me. That instance in time changed my soul, my heart, my mind. I was not the “same” after that experience. Even now as I sit here typing this out, the spirit within me is melting with a kind of quiet joy. The Holy Spirit of God is reminding me of what I felt and tasted that day, so many years ago now.
Why do I believe? It has nothing to do with culture. It has nothing to do with my upbringing. (I was neither born nor brought up in Utah.) It has everything to do with revelation, straight and pure, from the heavens above. That is the witness that will change who you are. That witness will take those bad things and blast them into total irrelevance. It no longer matters that somebody hurt you, so long ago. It no longer matters that some buffoon had an opportunity to be a great bishop and failed. It no longer matters that real Church history is messy just like any other history. It no longer matters that prophets have to put their pants on one leg at a time. (Although, when their pants are on, they commune with Jehovah).
I believe because Heaven showed me reality. I believe because God’s Holy Spirit fed me like Elijah was fed of the ravens. I believe because angels still reveal themselves to men, women, and children on the earth. I believe because miracles still take place. I believe because I have seen that same Spirit change people right before my eyes. I believe because God Himself asked me to believe.
I believe because I chose to believe Him when He spoke to me. Belief is not a function of coercion, and unbelief isn’t forced either. You either choose to believe or you choose to disbelieve, despite the evidence you have before you. This is the test and opportunity that we all face. Obtaining a testimony and witness is something that everyone can do. However, it takes humility. Without meekness you will not find the pearl of great price. You won’t find it with pride or snark in your souls.
I believe because I choose to believe God, His Son, and His prophets. That is what faith is, my friends.