Posts tagged faith
Posts tagged faith
The words we use say a lot about who we are
If you’re noticing that your testimony seems to have had the bottom just completely dropped out from it, is just gone, poof, like the wind:
Stop surrounding yourself with stuff that the prophets and apostles and your church leaders keep warning you to avoid.
There is a reason you got that advice in the first place, and it is NOT that the General Authorities of the Church hate having fun.
I was going to say this as nicely as possible, but quite frankly, I don’t think anyone needs that right now. So.
When I see that you’ve reblogged half-naked photos of other people seven times this week, I don’t really wonder about why your testimony is weak right now.
When I see that you’ve got a bunch of GIFs with profanity covering most of your home page, I am not baffled by your lack of spiritual confidence.
When I see that you mostly watch shows like Jersey Shore or The New Normal or Family Guy or Glee or CSI or Vampire Diaries, or any show on this list, or nearly any show on this list (there are a handful of exceptions) my confusion about your diminished faith disappears like fog on a sunny day.
In general: if you are disturbed, or confused, or worried about your lack of faith, but you’re also ignoring the “Sunday School Answers” you’ve known to say whenever prompted, and you’ve disregarded all that well-worded and easy-to-access advice in For The Strength of Youth, you are, quite frankly, doing it wrong.
Do you remember that awesome General Conference talk that President Uchtdorf gave a while ago, where he said that a sermon on judging others could be reduced to two words: “stop it”?
Apply that same advice here. Seriously.
God loves you, no matter what.
Today’s been rough for me (so was last night, and really so have the last few weeks) in an emotional/mental health sense. Sometimes the only peace I find in the gospel (or anywhere) is the safety in having something positive - completely positive - to think about. Sometimes it’s just the knowledge, or even the hope, that I’m loved and that I’m not alone. I honestly can’t really spend a lot of time talking about that part of things right now because I’m struggling to keep things even minimally together.
But I appreciate you posting this, because it’s really true.
God does not ever promise we won’t suffer. I think He suffers when He sees our pain, honestly - think of all the times He remind the prophets about how much He loved Christ, sometimes right before talking about the incomprehensible pain Christ endured on our behalf.
I have a friend who has nightmares about medical procedures her children endured as infants; the baby has long forgotten it (usually within an hour or so,) but the mother can’t. One of the babies I know absolutely had to go through what I can only describe as torture - they tested the pressure in her eyes by pressing against the (OPEN) eyeball with a metal device. She screamed and clearly hated it, as did all the other babies who got it done.
My friend could only put her daughter through that because it was essential, because there was no way out of it, because the alternatives (blindness, etc.) were so much worse. And I think Heavenly Father only let my friend go through with it for similar reasons; He wouldn’t do it for no reason because that’s just not possible for Him. No parent sees a child suffer without feeling it themselves - sometimes more deeply than the child himself does. No sane/functional parent hurts their children, or lets them get hurt, for the fun of it, or without caring. Even the doctors at that clinic my friend’s daughter got treated at only “torture” those babies because it’s absolutely the only thing they can do. Because ultimately, it’s worth it.
Suffering and pain is sometimes necessary. Usually we don’t get the “why” (my friend’s baby couldn’t possibly grasp an explanation about the need to measure her eye pressure.) But hanging onto that truth - that faith that it is necessary, and that we’re not being punished by God or abandoned by Him or are loved any less or have been forgotten - can make it more bearable. Even just the hope that it’ll be worth it. Just saying “I hope it’s worth it” while crying. Trust me, it helped me like two hours ago.
(Singing songs of praise also works as a great distraction from your woes. We even have songs for mourning and lamentation and persevering despite your despair if that’s what it takes.)
How many times are we told that God blesses the righteous and then we start following Christ and things get harder? It’s crazy. We are baptized, we testify of Him, and then we are ridiculed. Or mocked. Or maybe we get dumped. Something bad happens and we wonder if God even has a plan for us.
Following Christ means that things will go wrong. But that you can overcome. You can overcome because Christ overcame. All that is wrong can and will be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
This is based on my personal experience getting back to praying, and actually doing it twice a day and such, from a place where I wasn’t praying at all.
STEP ONE: Say, out loud, “Heavenly Father, right now I don’t feel like praying” or “Heavenly Father, I’m not sure I want to pray” or “Heavenly Father, I feel bad about myself when I try to pray” or “Heavenly Father, I can’t seem to make myself pray” or “Heavenly Father, I don’t think I’m worthy enough to pray” or “Heavenly Father, I’m pretty sure I’m going to know I have to make big changes if I pray, and I don’t want to make big changes right now” or whatever is true for you.
You don’t have to get on your knees or fold your arms or close your eyes, but you should say it out loud, even if it means you have to go find an empty room and lock yourself in it first. Even if you have to put earplugs in to make it bearable. Even if you can only manage it in the shower. It is OK to do this while crying, or scream it out loud while staring angrily into the sky.
This process may take time. If you have to get up and go away from this activity for a while, go back to step 1 and say whichever thing is most true for you before you go on to wherever it is you left off. if you can’t manage to get past saying this to any of the later steps, or if you get stuck between steps, just say it every day till you can manage to get past the block.
How Firm A Foundation, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, General Conference October 2012
(BYUtv just played this and I had to share it because it is awesome.)
I’ve been seeing a disturbing tendency among atheists to compare religious belief to mental illness. Sometimes this comparison is made explicit, as in this article. Other times, however, the comparison is more implicit–for instance, when words like “crazy” and “delusional” are used to describe religious people or their beliefs (hi Dawkins).
These comparisons are inaccurate and offensive to both religious people and people with mental illnesses.
First of all, being religious is a choice. Being mentally ill is not. While it’s a bit arguable whether or not faith itself is a choice–I certainly can’t make myself believe in god, but perhaps others can–the existence and success of religious proselytism proves that choice is at least part of the equation. Only a completely ignorant person, on the other hand, would attempt to proselytize mental health (although it obviously does happen).
Regardless of whether or not you can choose to believe in god, you definitely get to choose whether and to what extent you observe a religion (unless you’re a child, but that’s different). People with schizophrenia don’t get to choose which hallucinations they have and how often. People with OCD don’t get to choose their compulsions. People with phobias don’t get to choose which phobias they have or how they manifest themselves.
Second, suggesting that religious people are mentally ill is sanctimonious and offensive. It insinuates that they are incapable of consciously and purposefully choosing to be religious, and that their religious beliefs are just as meaningless as a symptom of mental illness. It reminds me of when I used to bring up concerns with friends who would respond, “Oh, that’s not such a big deal, you just feel that way ’cause you’re depressed.”
As I mentioned, being religious is a choice. For most people, it’s a choice made with one’s own best interests in mind. Comparing that to a schizophrenic delusion is a wee bit condescending.
(Of course, delusions that are religious in nature do exist. Some people with schizophrenia believe that they are possessed by religious spirits of some kind, that they have spoken to god, or that they are the messiah. However, this is vastly different from the way most religious folks experience their faith, and is obviously a symptom of mental illness.)
Although I’m an atheist who kinda sorta wishes religion didn’t exist, the fact is that it does, and I refuse to believe that all of the billions of religious people in the world are just mentally ill. No, they’re onto something. It’s just not something that I’m interested in myself.
Finally, these comparisons trivialize the suffering that people with mental illnesses experience. The distinction between mental health and mental illness is not that mentally healthy people do not believe in supernatural things and mentally ill people do. The difference is that (most) mental illnesses interfere with the person’s functioning and make them feel, well, bad.
Religion, for all its flaws, often does the opposite–it provides people with community, teaches them to behave morally and charitably, and helps them cope with illness, death, and other challenges in life. (A caveat: I’m talking about religion at its best, not at its worst, and these same effects can be found elsewhere.)
So when you imply that the definition of mental illness is believing in things without evidence, you miss a lot about what it’s like to be mentally ill. Namely, you ignore the emotional pain, cognitive distortions, thwarted goals, ruined relationships, physical fatigue, and all the other things that are part of the experience of mental illness.
There are many interesting, intelligent, and non-offensive ways for atheists to argue against destructive religious ideas (for instance, here’s an example I read today). Calling religious people mentally ill is not one of those ways. Let’s put that kind of useless rhetoric back on the shelf where it belongs.