Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
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Curt Sunshine
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Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 Mar 2009, 12:43

I have come to a foundational conclusion about the need for those who are struggling in the Church to strive to adopt a different perspective than that which often causes the struggle in the first place. I know this is not a universal panacea, but I have come to believe that there is a very common theme that contributes centrally to the stress many members feel about being "faithful" as LDS. I have tried here to keep everything as simple as possible, knowing that painting with a broad brush won't address all stress-inducers but hoping what follows will help everyone here somehow.

As I've outlined in other threads, I like the "be ye therefore perfect" injunction - but ONLY if it is understood as a gradual process of growth, enabled by grace, rather than a command to never make mistakes. Likewise, I like the focus on striving to understand the Gospel and keep the commandments - but ONLY if it is framed within the context of underpinning grace and mercy and love. My concern is that too many members adopt a perfectionist paradigm that creates an impossible standard by tying their acceptability to the Lord to how they do in comparison to others - that makes lack of certainty and doubt and weakness and struggle bad things, rather than simply part and parcel of our mortal condition.

Here are the principles that I believe are the foundation of mortal peace:
1) "We see through a glass, darkly." (I Corinthians 13:12)


It helps me to remember that even Paul (the Elder McConkie of his time) admitted that "WE see in part, and WE prophesy in part" and "WE see through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13) - and even Nephi felt inadequate and prone to failure (2 Nephi 4). If that's true even of Paul and Nephi, it's fine to feel a bit lost and "clinging to the iron rod amid the mists of darkness".

Given that we all are feeling our way through the darkness,
2) "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
Everything else is a human attempt to build on that foundation and bring meaning to life. All the rest, therefore, is secondary and supplemental. I'm not saying the rest is unimportant; I'm saying "The Church" is meant to enhance our individual pursuit of Christ-like development (not vice-versa), and that "the light of life" that will illuminate our way comes not through "The Church" (or any other external connection) but rather through an internal connection to Him.

In saying that, I am not downplaying the very real and powerful illuminating principles I find in Mormonism - and I am not saying that I believe all religions and denominations are equal in their ability to bring people to Christ (especially since I see Christ as the intermediary to bring us to the Father). I am emphasizing, however, what I believe to be the foundation of mortal peace - an internalization of the principle of grace, as articulated in my post on grace. [(http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2007 ... grace.html) and posted here as "Grace - Long Initial Post".]

Therefore, the invitation I see is best stated in the passage:
3) "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)


I can't say what that means as a practical process for each and every individual, but I can say that I find peace in my effort to come unto him - and that my Church life has changed almost entirely into a way to serve others within my religious family. That has been an ennobling and enabling paradigm shift for me.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Orson
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Re: Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Post by Orson » 10 Mar 2009, 13:09

I appreciate your three points. I think even if someone is struggling with seeing Jesus as humanly inspired or truly divine they can find the message that you describe in his teachings.

I also agree with your assessment of "be ye therefore perfect". When I read Matthew chapter 5 I don't see it saying "don't make any mistakes" at ALL! What I see is a plea for positive affirmation of Love and charity - to live as Jesus lived - to reach out and aid in the healing process - to forgive is divine.

Thanks for that.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

katielangston
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Re: Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Post by katielangston » 10 Mar 2009, 22:36

Ray,

Thanks for the thoughtful and eloquent post (as always). I loved it. Just a few thoughts your post sparked...

"Be ye therefore perfect..."

Speaking as a "recovering perfectionist," I have come to love and appreciate the charge to be perfect also; but because I have come to see it as possible only through the grace of God. So I see it more as an injunction to draw near to Christ than a "goal" that anyone can accomplish on their own.

"We see through a glass, darkly."

The past few months, that's become one of the most comforting scriptures of all to me. It reminds me that no one can quantify all truth--NO ONE. It makes me feel a lot better about my own questions and spiritual wanderings.

Then I love how you juxtapose the light of Christ against the darkness. There is such hope in the message of Jesus. Once you begin to doubt the LDS faith, it's easy to go down a road of questioning everything--including the very existence of God. But even for all my questions, I find such unspeakable comfort in the idea of a Savior who understands me and loves me and draws me to Him, that I hope I never let go of it.

I've been labeling myself lately as someone without a testimony, or a struggling testimony, or a broken testimony. But this post has reminded me that I do have a testimony. I'm not so sure about the church. But I really, really love God and I have hope and (dare I even say it?) faith that He exists and that Jesus loves me.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder. :)

AmyJ
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Re: Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Post by AmyJ » 07 Feb 2018, 09:29

Thank you for this post.

Roy
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Re: Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Post by Roy » 07 Feb 2018, 10:37

AmyJ wrote:
07 Feb 2018, 09:29
Thank you for this post.
I agree. Thank you for bumping it.
Curt Sunshine wrote:
10 Mar 2009, 12:43
I can say that I find peace in my effort to come unto him - and that my Church life has changed almost entirely into a way to serve others within my religious family. That has been an ennobling and enabling paradigm shift for me.
To some degree I believe it would be helpful:
1) to not take personally comments that malign people on the margins and outsiders (us vs. them).
2) to love the people for the good that they are and be charitable with what might be seen as shortcomings.
3) to do good towards those that would misinterpret, misunderstand, and isolate you (with perhaps the best of intentions).
4) in situations where people are blind to the harm that they may cause, to take seriously the prayer "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Such a person strikes me as an exceptionally well grounded, self-assured, and emotionally mature individual.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 Feb 2018, 17:11

I find a lot of comfort in just realizing and accepting that every person has at least one area where they simply "know not what they do" (including me) - and that most people are doing the best they know how to do (including people who appear to be failing miserably).
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

zmadel2
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Re: Finding Peace and Light Amid the Mists of Darkness

Post by zmadel2 » 14 Feb 2018, 18:43

This was a really great post. It was such a great reminder that we need to separate the church as an organization from the Savior and our Heavenly Father. All too often, it is presented as a package deal--as though they are one and the same. To be fair, some would argue that they go together very well. I'm sure we all have differing opinions on that. But at the end of the day, the most important concept is whether or not we feel that we are drawing closer to the Savior and becoming a little better. At least for me, that helps put everything in perspective, which makes my issues with the church seem a bit smaller.

Also, I've never thought of Paul as the McConkie of his day. That made me laugh :lol:

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