My awesome friend Adrienne has just started a blog about her experiences coming back to the Mormon church in a unique way. http://agnosticmormonmom.blogspot.com/
Her thoughts about creating a ‘hope testimony’ made me think about how I have reconciled the same issues for myself. I love that she has found a happy solution in her life and am totally inspired by her efforts, and it made think about me and my own unique internal struggle to believe.
I suppose it is easy to think on such things when tragedy strikes as it did today in Boston. My friend Tracy, frequent commenter on this blog, was racing and even though I don’t know her well I felt great concern for her safety. It just made it all feel more real to know someone there. It also struck home because I participate in group sporting events all the time. Each time I enter a masters meet or a marathon swim I put my trust in strangers. I hope that goodness and a spirit of friendly competition will prevail and thankfully it always has.
Anyway, back to my own reconciliation of faith. Here’s how I feel. There are some things I know in my mind and some things I know in my heart. I know that 2+2=4 in my mind. That is a truth. I know that my name is Rachel Wagner and that my parents are John and Jane. I know any number of facts and data. I also know that gravity is a true principle. I know that being a good listener is important to relationships. There are a lot of things I know in my mind and many more things that I need to learn.
Then there are things I know in my heart. I know my parents love me because I have felt it in my heart. I know that good and evil exist because I have felt the presence of both in my soul or heart. I know when something is just and also unjust. I can’t explain it but I know. I know that my Heavenly Father lives and loves me because I have felt it in my heart.
Do I have any proof of this? Yes, the proof is in my heart. That is not proof I can transfer to another individual easily but it is nevertheless truth (why the righteous virgins could not give their lamp oil to another. They could just as easily rip out their hearts). That is the reason I can say I ‘know the church is true’. Not because of data or statistics. It’s because I know it in my heart. I have felt it again and again and living its principles has always left me with a confirmation in my heart.
Do I blame people for not believing? No. I think they all can have this same confirmation, but it takes a sincere and willing heart coupled with the correct timing of God. As Moroni says “ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. ” He is not talking about a worldly manifestation. Such data and facts are not the kind of thing that can stabilize a life. They can often be disproven and explained away with the next passing fad. Knowledge in your heart is a different story.
It can be a concept that is is hard to explain. All I can say is I know the gospel is true in my heart. I got a witness when I was a young girl and it has never steered me wrong or abandoned me. It has always been in my pocket for hard times. I know in my heart that President Monson is a prophet and that God reveals his promises to all of his children in all eras. I know in my heart that families can be eternal and that covenants are real. I know in my heart that the priesthood is real and direct authority from Christ.
That’s what makes sense to me. So you can tell me all kinds of data about Joseph Smith, Church history, or the Book of Mormon and it does not matter because such data is not what my testimony is about. (and yes I’ve heard it ALL before). The Book of Mormon could be based on a cartoon and I wouldn’t care. My testimony is not about any of the data. Its a truth from the heart.
I believe this is even true for God. He knows how weak and frail we are. He has all that data of every moment that we reject Him; yet His heart loves anyway. This is why I have always thought of a testimony as a relationship with God. Just as relationships with humans ebb and flow so does our relationship with God. Relationships are not based on data but on the heart. Data also has finite limits; whereas, a relationship can always be better, stronger, more in-depth and close.
I would challenge all of you to think about how you know or do not know and how life makes sense for you? Have the integrity to write it out and share it. There is no judgment here- Merely a process of figuring out this crazy thing called mortality. Maybe I can learn something from you, and you learn something from me? Maybe we can learn something in our minds and hearts?
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” Ephesians 3:17.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Collossians 3:15
PS. I think it goes without saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to the city of Boston, all the runners and all affected by the tragedy.
Some of my other religious posts