Thursday, January 29, 2009

Between Belief and Unbelief

My temple recommend is about to expire. I wonder at this time when I schedule my interview what my answers to the recommend questions really mean to me. I find it interesting that the questions are really just yes and no answers without any explanation. I feel that my answers should be, "yes but...." or "no but...." Maybe it's a good thing that we don't have to explain.
I remember when I served in a bishopric that temple recommend interviews were one of the few pleasurable things about the calling. There is a good spirit there, which perhaps is more important than the answers.
What spirit will I bring to the interview this time? As I progress through my life journey, I find that the answers that at one time were so simple are now so complex. Life is marvelous tapestry that I have yet to figure out the pattern let alone the meaning of the pattern. I feel that when this journey is over that if things are exactly as I've been taught in the next life or something else entirely, I won't be surprised either way. I know this is a good path and that the men who lead this church are good and want us to be enriched spiritually, but I struggle with my faith. I don't feel the truth of the church and gospel as I once did. I can see how beyond the core doctrine, the church could have taken many paths and have many different ways of administering the gospel. I believe, but I don't believe. I have faith, and yet have none. I hope, but doubt. I know there's a god, but I don't understand Him or His ways. I love, and yet I'm so self-centered. Isn't life so full of contradictions? For example, my oldest will be baptized this year. I look forward to it. On the flip side, I think I'm at the point that if called to a higher position in the church again that I would decline. My mother told me that she has a new stake president who's about my age with four young kids under 6. I couldn't do it. I would definitely say no to that calling.
Well, folks, I guess that means that once again I will give the right answers to the temple recommend interview because that's what I'm supposed to do. Those answers will be laced with both faith and doubt. I know that I'm not expected to be perfect, but would a temple recommend issue to me if I explained each of my answers? So I will keep the symbol of my membership.
For another post, maybe I'll discuss my thoughts on what I think about the effectiveness of temple ordinances as a form of worship.


GeckoMan said...


You've expressed for me thoughts and feelings I've had lurking in the background for some time. I share the same struggle with you that is at once both a fascination and a frustration with this 'bobbing' back and forth between faith and doubt, which seems to steer our lives and thinking. Like you, I'm somewhere in the middle between belief and unbelief, depending on the day and mood I'm in. Regardless, I do have warm faith born of many tender experiences in the powerful love of the Savior and our wise Heavenly Father. But I wonder why isn't more of this love and wisdom manifest in the policies and procedures of the church? I wish there was more genuine respect for diversity and more celebration of unique spiritual gifts among the rank and file of church members. I wish there was more straight talk from the Brethren about getting out of our materialistic and narrow-minded, conservative duty-bound attitudes that cripple our culture and capacity. But that said, I still love my ward friends and the opportunities I have to serve them and hopefully promote growth and change that is positive, both for them and myself.

I confess my three (mostly) adult children have adopted many of my critical perceptions, yet I hope they will survive in belief and grow within the matrix and blessings of the Gospel web. My youngest daughter, now 20, isn't so sure she has a place she wants to take in the Mormon buffet line. This upsets my wife greatly, but I say 'Calm down, she'll make sense of it.' We plan to stay involved in the dialogue and not shut her opinions down. I want my children to embrace the power of faith and the priesthood in their lives, and yet have the moral courage to stand up and disagree when things are questionable. I fear that much of their church success may be up to the people around them, but yet I trust in the Lord to provide them with experiences for growth and the development of wisdom, as He has for me. Their paths may be in or out of the church, but that will solely be up to them. I've made my choice to stay, to be mostly loyal, and to live with going back and forth between contradicting ideals.

Alan said...

GeckoMan's first paragraph. Yeah, what he said. Absolutely. Spot on. Me too.