In our most recent General Conference, President Nelson gave a talk about faith and doubt. I wanted to wait before saying anything so I could read his talk and make sure it wasn’t my own experience with doubt that was making me view his talk through such a negative lense. I’ve read and re-read it, looking at it through different lenses, looking up all the cross references. After studying it, I believe that although his intention may have been positive, his words are harmful to those who find themselves doubting, struggling with their faith, in a faith crisis, etc.
Essentially, his message to those struggling to put our faith back together after a faith crisis is that its our own fault that our faith hasn’t been strong enough to move our own mountains of doubt. “Only your unbelief will keep God from blessing you with miracles to move the mountains in your life.”
You guys, this struggle is real and it is heartbreaking and lonely and so, so, so hard. But it is NOT MY FAULT that it is so hard.
I have been living with doubt for years, and here is what I can tell you about it:
⁃ Doubt is normal and nothing to be afraid of. In fact, there is a whole slew of people outside the church who believe doubting can actually grow our faith, that exercising our right to question and investigate things is good and should be encouraged. If the church stopped “othering” and villiainizing doubt and questions maybe we could have a productive conversation about how to embrace this and turn those doubts into greater faith. The solution is not in telling us to just have more faith by doing this list of things, because a faith crisis is sooooo much more complicated than that. Effort does not necessarily equal great faith.
⁃ Some doubts and questions aren’t easily resolved and don’t have easy answers. This is really hard to live with. And sometimes the peace and comfort my soul craves to counteract that best come from outside of “church approved resources”.
⁃ Christ does not condemn those who doubt, just as he did not condemn Thomas. And neither should we. People who doubt or question are not “lazy” or “lax”. I know that just like me, many people who find themselves in a faith crisis spend more time and more effort trying to resolve their questions than we did before the questions arose. And it takes a great deal of faith to continue coming to church and serving when there are so, so, so many things that we don’t have answers for. We are the opposite of lazy and lax.
⁃ Talking about my struggles with people I trust has helped me feel better about where I am and see a path forward. We cannot and should not work through our doubt and questions alone. If we as a community of Church members and humans could provide a safer space to work through these hard things, more people would feel like they can stay.
If you are in a place of doubting and questioning, please know that you can come to me. I know what it feels like, I know how hard it can be and how hard and isolating it is. Please feel welcome to talk to me, I can be an ear or a shoulder. I might not have any answers for you, but I can share what I’ve learned along the way, and what I’m still struggling with. Because I’m still in the midst of it, I haven’t found a way through or out yet. But I struggled alone for so many years, don’t let that be you too. If not me, find a safe person to talk about it with. We shouldn’t have to do this alone. ❤️