“Faith. is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” Alma 32:21
~by Jen H.
I remember being a little girl, sprawled out on our trampoline, on a warm breezy summer day. Hands folded behind my messy blond tangled hair, long and lanky legs crossed clumsily, watching the clouds revolve like waves in the blue sky, wondering about the mysteries of our existence. It seemed unfathomable. Still does. The world, space and the vast universe, how’d it all start? What was the very VERY beginning? I remember talking to my older brother about what our very first question we’d ask our Heavenly Father would be when we reunite again. Too complex a thought then, and seemingly too complex even for me now but certainly intriguing and exciting to ponder. As I have grown and matured both emotionally and spiritually, I have come to appreciate that not all things will be made known unto men (or women) in this life and that is OK.
I was born and raised in the Mormon church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) but it wasn’t until I neared adulthood that I came to an sincere understanding of what my strengths and limitations were in regards to my faith. What “I” believed and why, needed some filtering and refining as I entered into the sojourn passage of early adulthood and independent thinking. One of my favorite quotes is from CS Lewis (written in A Grief Observed)
“It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by the rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?…. Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.”
This quote has meant a great deal to me throughout my life. Beginning in my early childhood our family endured many hardships; divorce and death of a parent to name a few. As a result, those trials required me voluntarily to hang over the “precipices” of life so to speak and believe in, to be strengthened by something that I knew was there, but could not prove. The unrestrained love and sustaining support of my Heavenly Father, I knew was there but it was those times of trials and risks, that his presence was irrefutable.
Later in life, trials did not cease to blow my direction. I began early adulthood life by marrying the wrong man and though only married for a short time, endured with great difficulty some very painful things. Again, I was being swung out over the harrowing abyss of life’s challenges, in part as a consequence of some decisions I had made, but in a larger part, as a result of someone else’s. I clung (metaphorically speaking) to those ropes of faith, prayed it would be strong enough to hold me. I strived for exact obedience in my actions and I took a deep breath, knowing that was (really) the only right choice I had. The alternative would have been to panic in fear and despair and potentially loose everything important to me by letting go. Thankfully I had enough FAITH in things I did not have full knowledge of or completely understand to hold on. I believed that eventually, if I hung onto the things I knew to be true, even without a full understanding, I’d eventually be on solid ground again. And I was.
Sure enough, those particular trails weakened, years passed by, I happily remarried and we now have 6 beautiful children. But as could be predicted, new trials, of all different shapes and sizes seem to present themselves and yet despite all that, I have increasing confidence and respect for my rope of faith and the capacity I have, increasingly so, to endure hard things. Consequently, I take much greater care for its condition then previously because I know, though experience, it will save me when all else seems to have failed. Caring for my rope of faith means doing the things I know will make me happy. Having the foresight to recognize not only what will make me happy today but what will also bring happiness tomorrow. Living a life that will invite feelings of confidence in my personal gifts and abilities and more importantly in the feelings of abiding love I feel from my Savior. THAT is strength. Being obedient to God laws and commandments, being the best person I know to be, to serve others and to strive daily in the pursuit of excellence, all of those faithful endeavors strengthen and nourish me to endure life’s difficult days, which will surely come. (See Alma 32)
So I no longer seek all the answers to my adolescent wonderings. I realized that I do not know or have the ability to understand much of God’s plan. I know that God does have a plan, from the beginning of time. I know that Jesus lives. Not because I have seen him but because he gave me a rope to hang on and proved to me through His strength (not my own) that he IS there. Just like I know the sun is hot. Why? Because I’ve been to the sun? No, because I just do. I can feel it. I do not require a full understanding as to why or how the suns heat can penetrate so many thousands of miles. I have faith that it does exist and for reasons I do not know.
I am very grateful for faith. The simplicity of my faith has saved me from hard things more than any other resource. I am grateful for my agency because it is through that, that I have chosen these good things. In the scriptures the question is presented, “what manner should we begin to exercise our faith”, later is reads “begin to believe” (see Alma 33). I love that. No matter where I am in life. Everyday, I can awake and begin to believe, again.