More Questions than Answers
For most of my life I have lived the gospel. Not perfectly, of course – like everyone I have weaknesses, and like everyone I cannot do everything right all the time. But I have felt as if my heart was in the right place, and I have worked diligently to keep the commandments, according to my limited and imperfect understanding of them, and I have had faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the atonement and repentance.
I thought that living the gospel was supposed to make me happy. But for the past several years a sustained happiness has been elusive. It almost seemed as if attempting to live the gospel, while once the thing that brought peace and happiness, was now the very thing causing me pain.
Several weeks ago I felt my power to endure crumbling. It wasn’t a major life crisis that caused the crumbling – no one died, my house didn’t burn down, my marriage didn’t fall apart, no one lost his job. Rather, my heart seemed to give out under the weight of the missing happiness that I once would have told you I had. Like Chinese water torture, the drip of adversity finally became so intense I couldn’t stand it. I just wanted to be happy, and I wasn’t. The only solution that came to me was to stop trying. It hurt to try, and I didn’t want to hurt anymore.
Was I just too weak to endure faithfully? Was a foundation of faith not embedded in my heart? What about all those years of happily living the gospel – of studying, serving, praying, communing with God?
In a flash of sanity (or a miracle, whatever you want to call it), I realized that I didn’t actually want to give up completely. I just wanted to figure out how to feel happiness again.
The pain didn’t go away in that moment. President Eyring said, “I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment.” Although I realized that I had a desire to change and figure things out, my actions and attitude didn’t quite match that desire. Rather than turning to the Lord for guidance and help in changing, I am ashamed to say that I turned away from Heavenly Father. I blamed Him for my unhappiness. I wondered where He was hiding, withholding blessings of peace and happiness I thought He had promised me.
While I have hesitantly turned back to Heavenly Father (although I will admit not fully), I don’t feel much closer to answers than I did a month ago. In fact, I have more questions than I have answers. But I am asking questions. Which seems like a step in the right direction. What will make me happy? Where do I begin? What can I do to feel happiness? What was wrong with my foundation? How do I fix it?
While significantly less pronounced than the day I wanted to give up, the pain is still there, surfacing at unexpected moments – usually when the questions come and the answers don’t. Most days I feel an undercurrent of sadness – where there once was a feeling of peace – as I try to hold together the crumbling pieces of my foundation, unsure of whether I should try to repair it, or just scrap the whole thing and start fresh.
One thing both rebuilding and repairing will require is patience.
Which is also what it will take to get answers.
- How do you have patience when your foundation feels like it is crumbling?
- How do you repair a crumbling foundation? Or is it better to simply rebuild?
- And if it’s better to rebuild, where do you start?
Images: CC madmack66