Monday, February 10, 2014

FHE - Faith and doubt

My sweetie and I
The next Family Home Evening was my turn. Instead of spending Sunday afternoon preparing it, I spent time reading other things about gospel topics I wanted to learn more about. This means Monday afternoon I still had a lesson to prepare in addition to dinner to finish. While I had visions of a really great FHE lesson, I decided that simple was all I was going to get this time.

So when I sat down with the list of talks available, I was silently praying for guidance and inspiration on which talk to discuss this week. The one that seemed to stick out to me was Dieter Uchtdorf's talk "Come, Join With Us". There are several wonderful messages in this talk, but the one I wanted to focus on was the concept of having doubts and what we can do when we have them. 

There are things going on in the world that can cause people to question their faith in God or their belief in their church. I have had doubts about things related to my church at several times in my life.

"I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes."

That beautiful quote reminds me that we need to allow others grace. It's also acknowledgement that our wonderful leaders did not get called to their positions because they had somehow become perfected in this life. They are still human and still make mistakes.

As a mother, I hope to help my children develop their own testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am doing everything I know how to do to teach them about Jesus and his message of Peace, Love and Forgiveness. I believe that the LDS church has the most correct teachings and have chosen it for my life path. But I walk by faith. And sometimes I have doubts.

"One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true."

"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

I am also a deeply imperfect being with many faults. I make mistakes so often! For example, I apologize to my kids fairly regularly for losing my temper and yelling. I hope they see me making progress and that I yell less often than I did a few years ago. If not, I hope they at least remember my example of apologizing, attempting to make amends and admitting completely that it is my own weakness and fault. In truth, I'm a hypocrite in many things.

"If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites. None of us is quite as Christlike as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

So when I gave this lesson, I opened by sharing with my kids that both Mom and Dad have had doubts sometimes about things we believe. That we've wondered about things and whether or not they were really true. I discussed the fact that church leaders are not perfect people, and never have been, and with Fixitman's help, we discussed the imperfect examples of prophets and leaders chosen by God, including David, Jonah, and Peter from the Bible. We also discussed President Monson sharing the story of setting fire to a mountain as a youth and how he made that mistake. I explained that all our leaders are human and humans make mistakes but this does not change the truthfulness of the gospel. I shared the quotes listed above.

This went fairly well, the three older were listening and my three year old was relatively quiet. So then I told them I would tell them what to do when you are having doubts and are confused as to what you believe. I told them what I do. I go back to the basics that I really believe I know. (This came from Elder Jeffrey Holland last conference!) I start with what I know I have a testimony of and I build from there. I hold on to the little bit that I feel sure about and wait for further knowledge.

"Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes." - Elder Jeffrey Holland

I told my kids that sometimes I have received answers quickly to my prayers for understanding related to doubts. Other times I have waited years. Other questions I am not sure will be answered in this lifetime. But I choose to continue to have faith that one day, they will be answered.

I ended by sharing my testimony and afterward we played a game of Set and had some cookies.

Here is my testimony. It's simple but it's mine. I believe that Jesus is my Savior and Redeemer and that He willingly gave up his life and atoned for my sins. I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I believe that Joseph Smith was called by God to translate that sacred book and bring it into the world. I believe that the LDS church is led today by a prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I believe I am a daughter of my Heavenly Parents, a literal spirit child of God. I believe my Heavenly Parents are kind, loving, benevolent beings who care very much about me. I believe that our spirits are eternal and that there is life after this one. These beliefs have come to me because of many personal experiences and many hours of personal study.

I'll end with an invitation from myself and Dieter. He says very eloquently: "if you seek the pure doctrine of Christ, the word of God “which healeth the wounded soul,” and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost, then here [the LDS church] you will find them. In this age of waning faith—in this age when so many feel distanced from heaven’s embrace—here you will find a people who yearn to know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you. Come, join with us!" If you are wondering if you have faith in anything; if you are looking for truth, let's talk. I'll send you a Book of Mormon to read, for free, if you want. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring peace and happiness into everyone's life and I would share this joy freely with you. 

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