New question in the inbox! Huzzah! This one’s anonymous! Here it is:
Great question! Boy y’all sure like to ask questions about Mormonism, eh? Well, turns out it’s one of my favorite topics. I like talking about Mormonism here on this blog because I don’t get too many opportunities to talk about it in real life.
Anyway, on to answering the question: Yes, my spiritual path is sometimes at odds with the teachings of the LDS church. Many of the things that feel right in my heart are not always aligned with church doctrines or policies. I feel that it’s important for us to trust ourselves, our experiences, and our judgement. One of my favorite LDS teachings is the idea that each of us has the ability to receive direct instruction and guidance from God. Yes, it’s painful when that guidance doesn’t seem to correlate with the teachings of my chosen faith community. It was a long and painful process that led me to a spiritual place where I am now entirely comfortable disagreeing with the church on some things.
However, I was in a much different spiritual place than I am now while I was a missionary. I could sum my 19-year-old spiritual beliefs up pretty well by saying I had no idea what I did or didn’t believe. That posed an obvious problem for an LDS missionary. However, while this meant that I was never fully committed to all of the ideas within Mormonism, it also meant that I was never committed to any ideas outside Mormonism either. I saw any differences between my shaky personal beliefs and the churches teachings not as a clashing of ideas, but as a profound lack of worthiness and faith on my part. When there was disagreement, the church was always right, and I was always wrong – and I was doing everything I knew how to bring myself in line with church teachings. This proved to be a depressing and unhealthy way to approach God and religion.
As a missionary, I was taking the proverbial step into the dark tunnel, with faith that my foot would land on solid ground – the same basic message I was asking those I was teaching about Mormonism to embrace. I chose to become a missionary, in part, as an act of faith. I studied and taught Mormonism for two years as an act of faith. I remain an active member of the church today, despite my disagreements, as an act of faith.
I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the difference between dishonesty and speaking in faith with a great hope that it was true. Since returning home from my mission, I have spent a great deal of time trying to decide if I returned home with my integrity intact. I’m still trying to figure it out.
Sorry this post was such a downer (frown)!