I Gotta Have Faith

25 05 2010

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about faith (the religious principle, not the song by George Michael which is now stuck in my head and not at all conducive to deep thought). I’m attending the Casual Blogger Conference this week (Could I be any more excited?) and there’s a panel called “Blogging Your Faith.” They’ll be discussing “how to incorporate your faith into your blog and promote spirituality on the Internet.”

This is interesting to me, because I don’t really think of myself as a “Mormon blogger.” I’m a Mormon, and I blog. Those two things are simply a part of who I am. If I feel like talking about my religion or personal experiences involving spirituality, I will. If I don’t…well, I’m not going to force it just so I can feel like I’m spreading the missionary message.

Please don’t think I’m bashing the Mormon blogging culture. Not at all. It’s just that the really vague vision I have for my blog doesn’t involve daily faith-promoting messages. (Unless you consider obscene animal cookies faith-promoting, in which case you might want to consider professional help.)

That said, I do want to touch on the idea of faith.

After my third pregnancy loss, I kind of went off the rails. I’ll spare you the gory details (by now they’re really unimportant), but the culmination of this was a disciplinary council. This consisted of me, my therapist (hey, they said I could bring someone along), the bishop, the first counselor, someone from the ward who was on the high council (the second counselor in the bishopric was unavailable), and the ward clerk.

It probably sounds terrible, but it wasn’t so bad (all things considered) until…THE QUESTION. Yes, it deserves all caps and bold. I had expressed my desire for children and the feeling that I was incredibly unhappy doing all the things I was supposed to do, so I might as well do whatever I want because if I’m going to be unhappy, I should at least have fun.

Cut me a little slack. It was a bad time in my life.

Anyway, after much discussion and questioning, yada yada yada…the high councilor says to me, “Have you ever considered that if you just had enough faith, you’d be blessed with those things you want so badly?”

Yeah. Take a moment to look at that question, because he really asked it. He took my crappy genetics and autoimmune problems and turned it into something that was my fault.

I’m sure, having a sense of my personality, you’re wondering what I answered. I believe it was something along the lines of, “There’s no way I can answer that question without swearing at you.” No, I’m not making that up. Of course, at that point my therapist jumped in to interpret my feelings of hurt and dismay. (Thanks, Steve!)

Even after I returned to full activity at church, I couldn’t look that man in the eye for about five years because I was still so angry. (My inner therapist: “Anger is a secondary emotion. What were you really feeling?” Me: “Can anger be secondary to fury? Also, shut up, inner therapist.”) Okay, I was hurt. And offended.

I had nothing but the purest, most unquestioning faith as I went into those three pregnancies. I knew the potential difficulties. I knew we might fail, but I felt like Heavenly Father wanted me to have kids, and by golly, if that’s what He wanted, I knew He could make it happen. So really, it wasn’t that I didn’t have enough faith.

Is there such a thing as too much faith?

When I delve deep into my feelings at the time, I begin to recognize that my faith was limited. Yes, I had complete faith in the omnipotence of God. What I didn’t figure in was His omniscience. I knew if He wanted to, He could make my pregnancy work, but I didn’t allow for the possibility that He might have something else in mind for me.

So I pretty much believed in a God who would grant my righteous desires. Like, immediately. End of story. Heavenly Father says to multiply and replenish the earth, I want a baby, I get pregnant, BAM! It’s all good! I’m being obedient, and will be blessed! It’s just like I learned in Young Women’s, and now I’m going to burst into song! Probably a song by Janice Kapp Perry!

But I digress.

I remember praying every night to see the bigger picture. I wanted to understand why God thought this was a good idea. After all, if He had a reason, it would only be polite to clue me in, right?

Yeah. Not so much.

Eventually the tone of my prayers changed. I went from praying to know why things happened to praying to be okay with the things that happened. Such a small change when I type it, but it was life-changing.

At this point in my life, I’m finally coming to understand that I don’t need to know the how and why of everything. What I do need to know is that God is in control, and He has my best interests in mind.

I’ll put it this way: I’m trying to put together a puzzle. God has the picture, but has given me the pieces. He won’t tell me exactly where they go, because then I wouldn’t learn anything. What He will do is give me a nudge here and a gentle hand there, so that when everything is said and done, my puzzle is complete.

My Heavenly Father has a plan for me…even if I don’t always like it.

So I guess that’s where I am right now. Next step: Learning to like the plan. I’m thinking that’s going to take a while.

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12 responses

12 06 2010
DeNae

Jenny, I came over from Heather’s place. Did we meet at CBC? Reading your blog makes me feel a terrible loss because if we didn’t meet, didn’t go heart-to-heart for just a minute or two, then we both missed a chance to connect with a kindred spirit.

I was the moderator for that Faith panel. I still don’t think we got it right. I want a three-hour do-over. I’ve been a member of the church all my life; I’ve taught gospel doctrine, seminary, and Institute for 20 years. And I’m only now feeling like I have even the slightest inkling, hint, clue as to what faith really is. And what it is not.

I’ve also battled soul-crushing, hide in my closet and hope no one comes looking for me, why does God hate me depression off and on for the last 22 years. I’ve been in a really good place emotionally – mentally – for ten years or so. Oddly, the more mentally healthy I get, the less patience I have for remarks like, “You just need more faith and everything will work out.”

I don’t know what faith really is, yet. But I do know that it isn’t the equivalent of blowing out birthday candles. Simply performing a rite and making a wish is most definitely NOT faith. I’m sorry you were on the receiving end of such foolishness.

I love this church, love the doctrines of the gospel, love the scriptures. But oh my goodness, how often we fail each other because we speak without understanding.

I’m sending you my love and my empathy and everything I probably didn’t offer you at CBC. And if we are ever in the same building again, you’ve got a “I’ve been there” hug coming.

28 05 2010
Mimi

Somehow I missed this blog post!!! OH NOES! 😀 I love you Jen-nay and very much admire you for being able to write about things that are so personal! 🙂 You are super awesome!

27 05 2010
danessa

I love you and your blog. Just so you know!

26 05 2010
Mom

I love you!

26 05 2010
Judi

Jenny~I saw your post on BlogFrog about CBC and hiding in the bathroom!
We should just plan to meet there and hang out together because that is exactly how I feel to ! I am so scared to meet people, but that is all I want to do is meet people! We really should totally try and hang out :o)

26 05 2010
Peter

What, you mean that Steve didn’t swear at the high councilor? I’m surprised.

Absolutely wonderful post. Thanks.

26 05 2010
rachel

you’re awesome, jenndola.
also, thank you for getting 2 lame songs stuck in my head for the day.

26 05 2010
Van Gessel

AWESOME, Jenny! Totally awesome. Powerfully written and so full of personal, honest truth. Thank you!! You’re amazing.

26 05 2010
Janice

Love this post…it’s easy to write about funny things but when we write about the real stuff…the stuff we hold in our hearts, it makes us much more vulnerable to the world. Your post reminds me of a poem that I know by heart and serves as a reminder to me when I’m not feeling the love from the man upstairs:

As children bring
their broken toys
with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams
to God
because He was my friend!

But then instead
of leaving Him
in peace to work alone,
I hung around
and tried to help
with ways
that were my own.

At last I snatched them back
and cried,
“How can you be so slow?”
“My child,” He said
“What could I do?
You never did let go.”
Author Unknown

26 05 2010
Kristina P.

This was an amazing post, Jenny.

And also, you will happy to know that I sat in a blogger focus group for the relaunch of Mormon.org. Which, by the way, is amazing. Very, very cool and modern. And they thing the church reps. said is that they really just want members to be normal people who happen to be Mormon. I don’t blog about faith either. And I’m OK with that.

26 05 2010
Laney

Love your post Jenny.

26 05 2010
Dayna

Fantastic post, Jenny. I was deeply moved.

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