Sunday, December 20, 2015

Be Still My Pounding Heart

I’ve heard people get up and bear testimony, saying that knew they needed to do it because their hearts were pounding so hard.  Until this month I don’t remember ever having that experience.  But this month as I sat on the bench with no plans to get up and do anything, my heart started beating so hard that I expected that Russ sitting next to me could probably feel it as well.

I used to feel a mix of compassion and interest and envy when I met people who had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Compassion and interest because I knew that their experience and transition wasn’t always easy, and envy because I was always a little envious of their chance to come to know that this was the truth.  I knew, yes, that all of us have to be converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but that seemed to be so much easier, like starting a race from the halfway mark.

I don’t believe that anymore.  After the turmoil that I’ve seen and heard about and read about and lived in the last 18 months I don’t believe that people get a pass just because they were born into the church.  I now think that at some moment (or many moments) in time they will have to grapple with the ideas and doctrines of the church just as every new convert does.

My own experience has been unexpected and frustrating, but also interesting.  It’s been interesting to see as I’ve taken old beliefs out of the closet that is my brain, shaking them off and examining them in the light, which ones are things that I truly do believe as adult and which are things that I feel like I misunderstood along the way, things which were taught to me in error, etc.   It’s also been interesting (interesting in the abstract if I can let go of the pain of this being my experience) to see what beliefs have settled back in as a foundational part of my testimony.  

The first one is the existence of God & his son Jesus Christ.  I feel like I sing a line of a primary song over and over again, whenever I am outside or driving or noticing things in nature.  “In all the world around me.”  Again and again, whether I see the beautiful fall foliage, the mountain range, waterfall, blooming flower, I hear it in my head.  I think our beautiful world is such a gift of love to me from them.  I feel their love in the beauty of my life, in the sweetness of little Kate, in the moments that are clearly tender mercies.  Sometimes when I look at my own children and feel so much love for them I then wonder how it is that God can feel so much more for us, and I am grateful that however it is, he does.

The second one, interestingly, is the organization of the church.  It’s been over 25 years since I realized as a frustrated overworked young mother with too many callings that the church and the gospel weren’t the same thing, but that the one existed to provide a framework and to help the other function.  As I’ve been on my own personal journey, however, I’ve come to have a greater love for the church even as I have a greater understanding of it’s imperfections.  Greater love for the imperfect men who literally devote their lives (at a time with others their age are living lives of leisure) to lead and guide the church.  Greater love for the imperfect organization that helps to teach the same truths to me in Oregon or in North Carolina or in Africa.  And greater love for our bishopric who also give so much of their time and energy to help and shepherd their ward family.  I am filled with love at the idea that everyone is working so hard in their little sphere, imperfectly, because of their own desire to participate in the kingdom of God.  

There is still so much that I don’t know, but I’m grateful to feel again that there are things that I do know.  

And interestingly, once I’d finished my testimony and sat back down—my heart was as calm as it could be.  Curious indeed.

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