I was born in 1980 and my mother was a Mormon and my father was a Catholic. I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church). As I grew up I really internalized the stories I was taught at church, especially Jesus Christ and the atonement. However, I always felt a really strong conflict about believing all the seemingly basic precepts of the Church. This conflict came because I felt some of those precepts condemned my Father and my family to an eternity without each other, even though my father was so much more Christlike than many others in my eyes.
That dissonance was only made worse as I went through High School because I found that the doctrines of the Mormon Church, as far as they were explained to me, made much more sense than most of the things I learned about other Christ believing churches. I was always introspective and emotional, and also I went through many health struggles. These things caused me to pray often and also helped me gain a very fervent belief in Jesus Christ and in the atonement. I saw God as a merciful, loving, forgiving God who wanted everyone to be happy. In trying to reconcile my dissonance I believed that if I served a mission that my Dad would have a better chance of joining the church and thus alleviating my conflict. It may not make sense, but I also felt the Church was the only viable and plausible Christian church based on what I knew at that time.
Being on a mission had two main impacts on me. 1. I became more converted to Jesus Christ and saw miracles and had experiences that confirmed He was real and was the Savior. 2. I became aware that my previous understanding of Mormon History, and Doctrines were not what I thought. These two things only increased my internal conflict, since most of my understanding about Jesus came from what I had been taught at church and yet I felt I hardly had a great grasp on what Mormonism really was about. I performed and witnessed miracles and revelations that were undeniable and knew of certain truths, but logically many things I had been taught did not make sense or fit in the right places.
So for the early part of my twenties I wandered spiritually, emotionally, and made a lot of mistakes. I studied and searched, and went through periods of doubt that were difficult. As I searched, I realized that what was bothering me the most wasn’t the negative things about Mormonism, but the fact that I felt many things had been hidden from me. My frustration was clouding my focus and I wasn’t connecting with God. I was lucky to have good friends and parents who loved me and didn’t abandon me. As I was able to lean on my past spiritual experiences, and continue studying, eventually I overcame those feelings of betrayal and realized that most of those past Church actions were born of a desire to benefit the church and it’s members. I also was able to realize that even General Authorities of the Church did not always agree on history, doctrine, or practice. It was not abominable to feel differently. These realizations allowed my mind to become less confused and emotional in my search for the truth.
However, I still had doubt and I have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy searching for the truth in every situation and in every principle. I found the place in my mind and heart where truth and Mormonism are at complete harmony. My views are constantly adjusting to new things I learn, and I try not to be biased one way or another as I continue my journey to God. In terms of Main Stream Mormonism, many of the things I believe fit into the Gospel and the doctrines, but can be uncomfortable for many “traditional” church members. Not because they contradict the Gospel, but because they aren’t based on assumptions that came from opinions and because I am willing to admit we probably don’t know many things with absolute certainty. Our testimonies have to be based on truth and some things I know for certain they are truth. Some things I think are true. Some things I believe are true. Some things I am not sure about at all. When we can feel ok about having those categories then I feel we are being honest and the Lord can really teach us and help us move things from category to category until we know more things as truth.
About 2006, a small group of friends and I began having discussions with each other and found that what most of us really needed to increase our faith in God and in the Church was a forum to ask questions, search for answers without bias and judgment, and then discuss what we find. We have learned that there are reasonable answers to almost all the difficult questions about Mormonism, its history, and its doctrines. It is impossible to silence ardent critics, and it is not possible to overcome every doubt, but it is possible to emphasize the things we do know and have experienced, and then search in a positive way for the answers that can help assuage our doubts. We also realized that the things we know from experience, and from God are things that are precious and must be loved and cherished. Jesus Christ said on multiple occasions, “By their fruit ye shall know them.” This in my opinion was not meant to say everything any church, person, or group says or does is right because the fruit is good, but rather that we all have the ability to decipher whether individual ideas, principles, and actions are good based on the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” Galatians 5:22-23. Temperance is probably my favorite part of the fruits because it sheds some light on a few things that can clue us in on truth. First, rarely are extreme stances either religiously or politically truth. They cause too many feelings of anger, pride, selfishness, fear, and sadness. Usually the truth is found in some combination of both points of view. Searching to prove points of view, or to disproves other points of view will most likely “miss the mark” and miss the truth. Truth is available, and it will “make us free.”
However, it takes someone who is not looking to justify their actions, but truly looking for peace and happiness to find and accept truth. I decided after the last conference (2013) and missionary address that we should bring what we have to the online world. I am looking to share my thoughts and experiences with an emphasis on an increase of faith. It isn’t about convincing everyone, and everyone won’t agree with what I have to say, but hopefully the messages and perspectives can help some people see things differently, stop the snowball of negativity and doubt, feel a new connection to God, relate to people who think and feel differently within the gospel, or help people increase their faith in Jesus Christ. Mostly I hope to uplift and help others find happiness.