|From Buridan's Donkey|
There were three talks in General Conference about having doubts and questions. Two years ago, my wife Stacie had a traumatic episode of delusion that included spiritual visions and messages from heaven. Thankfully, she was kept safe through it and has been recovering since this time. It really rocked our faith (and our pocketbook) because if I didn't convince Stacie that these revelations were false, she would dive deeper into patterns of delusion. The doctor even told us it would be good to avoid spiritual things. Ever since then, I have had trouble sincerely believing and it has opened the door to many other doubts I didn’t previously have. I still actively participate in my LDS ward, have a fairly expansive knowledge of LDS doctrine, have witnessed what I believe to be miracles in my life and I still want to believe. But I haven’t ever found an answer that has really helped me. It has haunted me for over two years. To twist the knife even further, through the events of Stacie’s mental breakdown, I also learned that a man I looked to as one of my primary spiritual mentors for almost 10 years also had a mental illness and was clinically delusional.
In the Church, if you have ever had a question about the gospel, it can feel like you are a donkey in front of two stacks of straw but starving because you don’t know which one to eat.
One stack of straw is feeling like I can fully relate to people at church who say “I know without a shadow of a doubt,” the members who have a fail-proof testimony and a conversion that is solid and unshakable. They are such good people and serve and bless peoples’ lives and love sincerely. I just can’t relate to them fully because I don’t know and asking my questions makes this group of people feel really uncomfortable. Sometimes when I bring up doubts or questions, it seems like I am perceived instantly as an anti-Mormon or as someone who must have been delving into anti-Mormon literature. I feel like I am a threat who will taint the minds of their children with poisonous ideas.
The other stack of straw is trying to relate to the group of people who have stepped away from the Church out of apathy or who are adamantly against the Church. I am not against the Church. I’m also not in anyway apathetic about my devotion. It’s not like I’m looking for an excuse to drink coffee or to not feel guilty about not keeping some Church standard.
I can’t fully relate to either of these groups, but finding a group of people who is comfortable discussing questions but who isn’t somehow bitter against the Church has been a challenge. It’s also difficult to find those who say they have a "sure knowledge” who are able to open their minds to be open to anything but their sure knowledge. I just have sincere questions that I would like to explore with those who are believers and who aren’t afraid of the possibility of discovering the truth, even if the truth is not what they thought. A group of people who are the third stack of straw.
I’m also a student of positive psychology and I actively strive for more authentic positivity. The subject of doubt has unfortunately been a source of negativity for me (and my marriage) for a while and I would like to change that. That’s why I’m finally just writing about this online. I’m reaching out because it is better to be authentic. Out of vulnerability comes great strength.