One of the reasons why I like road trips is because they give me time to think. I have a very hard time being settled. For example, right now I’m listening to a sporting event playing on another computer while also writing this blog post. I’ve got probably 20+ Chrome tabs open, and this is all in a week that I’m “between jobs”. Driving a car is a good thing for me because I do work very hard on not being distracted. It allows me to think about “big things”.
I’ve really struggled the past couple of years with my faith and what I believe in — and ultimately what that means for my every day life. I still consider myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but I don’t go to church. I miss the fellowship and the renewal that comes from attending a church on a regular basis.
A few weeks ago, while visiting Tennessee and getting things ready for the move, I was listening to an interview with Christian Wiman on NPR. It was one of those things that was the exact thing I needed to hear at that time. One of the things he talked about was how lonely he felt at times when we wasn’t attending Church regularly and how hard it was to maintain his faith without that renewal. That’s how I feel. It’s so easy to let other thoughts creep in and to lose your sense of purpose.
But, again, I’m faced with the challenge of what Church to attend. As Mormons, we face an interesting situation in the Christian world. If you believe in the Book of Mormon, and if you believe that there are modern-day prophets it makes attending churches of other faiths challenging. While driving, I decided to come up with a mental checklist of what I believe and where my struggles are, and this is what I’ve come up with:
- I believe that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and who sent me to this Earth for a reason.
- I believe I am a daughter of God.
- I believe that Jesus Christ came to this earth and lived a mortal life and died for us so that we may have eternal salvation.
- I believe in the New Testament of the Bible.
- I believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and true scripture.
- I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he restored the Church to the Earth.
- I believe that the current prophet, Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God.
You may have noticed that I made a distinction that I believe in the New Testament of the Bible, and after thinking a lot about it on this most recent road trip, I think that’s where my challenge with scripture and belief begins (and ends). As much as I try, the Old Testatment is something that I really struggle with. There are so many things that I find inplausible. One of my favorite scenes from my favorite TV shows sums things up really well:
My biggest struggle with the Church right now is the fierce opposition by the leadership of the Church and many Church members to allowing same sex couples to marry. But, more than that, it’s the moral stance that homosexuality is a “choice”. I fundamentally believe that for most members of the LGBT community, their lifestyle is not a choice but is part of who they are and unchangeable.
I still don’t feel like I have the “answer”, but I do feel like I have a better understanding of what to do next.