I spoke very candidly and openly here last November when my inner turmoil could no longer be contained. What I know to be true in my heart has never been something I could explain very well through words to anyone. It's a funny thing, faith. I've never considered myself to be an "intellectual" and have never been able to put an effective voice to my convictions. That is probably why I generally remain so private and silent when it comes to my beliefs and opinions. Sometimes I don't understand why the pull is so strong, but I would be remiss to ignore such promptings. Again, faith is a funny thing. I have always maintained the state of my soul as merely a personal endeavor that I have protected by not sharing it. I have viewed others' souls much the same way. I am beginning to realize what a mistake this has been in this all-too-short earthly existence. While I have not turned to God nearly as much as I should in recent years I know that there have been others praying on my behalf and I have been endlessly blessed regardless of where my wandering attention has been directed. Others have shared in my spirituality for years without my acknowledgement and I have been absolutely ungrateful for it. I am reminded of the Lion King quote, one of the last truly great works to come out of Disney since Walt's passing, "You are more than what you have become." I am all too aware that I have not been fulfilling God's intentions for me here. How fortunate I am that His patience is perfect.
Life has been difficult for me personally in nearly every way possible over the last decade and it has been incredibly distracting to say the least. Each time I face a new challenge, however, I don't reach the end thinking how glad I am that it is over. I certainly do feel some sense of relief, but even more powerful than that, I feel strength from the certainty that there are more difficulties to come that have the potential to knock the socks off of whatever I've just lived through. I take a strange comfort in knowing that.
This post serves the purpose of helping me feel as though I've shared more of myself than I am usually comfortable doing. And I do that because I feel that there is something truly good for me to share though it is rooted out of a terrifying place. I suppose that you could call me a "sheep" in the figurative sense and to an extent it would be a fair assessment though not wholly accurate. So much of my system of beliefs is so deeply ingrained as a part of me, seared into my soul, that I simply can't deny it. Does that mean that I never find myself questioning my leaders or facing fears or doubts? That is a resounding, "no". Sometimes I rely on the eloquence of minds greater than mine to help me place markers on why I feel and believe the way that I do. These minds may be those speaking with the voice of my own heart, but just as often they are those who seep that undefinable anxiety into my gut that confirms I am hearing fallacy. What disturbs my peace and shakes my core is when that foreboding feeling comes from not merely my loved ones, but those dear people who I always felt helped shaped my beliefs in the first place. That strikes a fear and devastation in me that I have never known before.
So, what do I do? Inactivity disturbs me nearly as much as what wrought the unrest. I indicated that I sometimes rely on others' voices to speak as my own because God has simply given me different gifts to work with. I was recently blessed with a pool of resources I wasn't even seeking that offered me a great number of those markers I spoke of. I can currently see no resolve for my distress, but it may not be appropriate for me to see that anyway. I am used to adversities having somewhat clear points of conclusion and am at a loss with what I now face. So, rather than futilely fighting to change anyone or having another rant as I did late last year I believe that I will best serve my suffering heart by sharing some of those resources that are a small but significant part of what further solidifies my resolve in what I believe in.
The title of this post may not have made a great deal of sense to you up to this point, but if you have read this far I urge you to continue on with what I will next present. If nothing else and you don't agree with any of it, you will at least know yet even more about me than you did before and that can't possibly be a bad thing, can it? I have been pretty frank in everything I've said and it is absolutely true that I am heartbroken. You may not feel that I am justified in feeling that way about you, but it may be true nonetheless (depending specifically on who is reading this, you very likely know who you are).
I was guided to this piece by one of my dearest friends; a man with whom I hold an unending amount of respect and admiration for, my bishop. I have not stepped foot into a church service of my own volition for approximately eleven years with the singular exception of a fast and testimony meeting a few years ago in the ward where I live now. Something definitive happened this week, however. I did not attend Sunday services, but I did make the choice to show up at the 10 o'clock Book of Mormon class that my bishop teaches every Tuesday morning. With my days now ending at 4 a.m. this was quite the feat. I fumbled through the pages of the book that through time and distance had, surprisingly, not become the least bit foreign to me. It wasn't exactly like riding a bike though. The material, of course, hadn't changed with time...I had. But I'm not changed from the young woman I was at seventeen the last time I voluntarily walked through those chapel doors. I am changing back into her. Time may have dulled my mind and in some cases jaded my heart, but it has not had the power to weaken my convictions.
I will allow the document to follow to speak completely for itself because my own words would fall short of articulating any portion of its contents with proper justice. I am endlessly grateful to all of you who have attentively given me your ear and I encourage you now to give Ezra Taft Benson your undivided attention. It's about a 10-15 minute read so please, if you can, make this time available. For me, this is currently where my hopes and even my fears lie.
Thank you once again for allowing me to share more and more of myself through this oddly fortuitous medium. If anyone is interested in reading any of the other resource materials I spoke of, please, just let me know.
Sincerely yours, Liz Perkins