The other day I sat down and wrote a letter to my oldest and dearest friend on the planet - she and I have one of those we can go for weeks and months and even years without talking, and when we connect back in to each other - it's like we've never been apart. Here's a part of my letter to her:
...Of course I'm struggling with church so that makes it even harder. I just don't know what to believe anymore. A part of me that remembers the sweet blessings of the gospel wants to go back to the naieve beliefs that I had years ago - but the now experienced, more jaded me is struggling. A part of me wants to chuck it all. I know you faced some of this - what do I do? Too much pressure. I guess I'm feeling used up these days. I know I should just have faith....but I'm feeling faithless. I just feel lost.and her response is exactly why I was inspired to write to her. She wrote:
...I have been praying a lot about it because I can get to a point where I say I don't want to do this anymore and what can I do now. Which gets me to a point where I answer your question. Keep praying. I still struggle with why I stay active in the church. Why do I bother, it is too hard and it would be different if I could chuck this all and do what I want. But I do have a testimony and just like I do at work, I keep trying to do better the next day. I always wake up with a song in my head and sometimes it can get annoying but this morning I think Heavenly Father was trying to tell me something. The song was How Firm a Foundation. The words that kept going through my head was the 3rd verse:I know she doesn't know all that goes on in my life, but this song is exactly what I needed to hear - as I read through her words, I knew that the answer for me was to take a deep breath - and something else... When I was going through my divorce my therapist suggested that I hadn't wholly accepted the Atonement for myself. I remember at the time being so angry that she would suggest otherwise - but in the past few weeks as I've been trying to let go more and move forward more, I realize that she may have been right.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give the aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee , and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
I still blame myself. I'm still punishing myself. Denying myself blessings. Still engaged in self-flogging and I suppose it is because I've distanced myself so much from the church - again and again in the last little while I have felt those promptings urging me to get back to what I know to be right - but as you well know - it is lonely out there on that precipice. I feel like I've been rebelling against things for so long now - as if my anger and hurt would somehow impact my Heavenly Father and he'd realize that I'm shaking my fist
at him saying I'm mad! I feel let down that my miracles didn't come to fruition!
I've been so caught up in the trying to make him see my heartache that I've become literally blind to the opportunities, moments, inspiration, and constant blessings he continues to put in my path. In that moment I read the lyrics to that song - I knew - I knew with everything I am that he's been trying to help me see that there is a bigger picture. He's been trying to put me back to work, restrengthen me, and that can only come through my acceptance of the Atonement.
I am tired of being angry.
I grow weary of fighting a fight that isn't necessary - of rebelling.
I want to go back to the temple.
I want to move past the "believing" about the Atonement to the accepting fully.....
I've got work to do.