I wish I would have been told that when I was a youth and not as a young adult. Changing paradigms SUCKS.
YEP, try doing it at 50. Oh wait you don't know 50 yet. It's pretty fun.
Mom, does it bother you you don't get answers like that? I mean, do you think it's ok that you don't expect answers? I have a hard time being ok not getting anything back... by definition, prayer is a communion, a mutual conversation. I think when I prayed before my faith crisis when things were going well, hearing back was important, but I felt like I knew things that I don't now. And now that I don't know, I feel like I NEED to hear an answer back to help me keep going.
In the beginning yes. I had always had the promptings, answers, dreams, voices, experiences. The silence was terrifying. I was afraid I was being punished. This added intensely to the darkness. I wanted to scream forever and make it go away. Then one day during one of the long dark heart wrenching days, while sitting on my floor crying, an image popped before my face. A little girl, crying, surrounded by a pile of toppled over wooden blocks. Suddenly 2 people joined the little girl - her deceased, never active in the church, grandmother, and Jesus Christ (or a representation of him). I knew in that moment who the little girl was, and that help was on it's way. Two weeks later, while rock climbing, I got stuck. My hands were loosing grip, my knees ached from the crevice my toes were crammed into, when again an image burst forth, two scarred, battered hands were climbing next to me just for a moment. Immediately I knew what the hands represented. They were a reminder that this life is like a hard climb but it can be done, and I could trust that divine resources were available.
I had waited nearly 3 years for those. I thought the heavens were opened again (and they were) but not like a faucet. I have now learned, I hope, to hold out a bit longer when the silent hours come. Today after I wrote you, I remembered that Joseph Smith had a similar situation. This masterful vision in a grove. Life changing for him and many others. Yet three years pass and nothing. We rarely think about those 3 years. Did he pray? Was God silent? Who knows. On top of that, if the story is accurate, he didn't get what he wanted. He just wanted to know his standing before God. Instead he gets an Angel, a long lecture. Repeats of the lecture and whole new life.
My only suggestion is don't throw away the few you had. They have validity. I think you are doing great.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview
"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman