When people struggle with their faith perhaps it’s not a struggle with their faith as it is the content they consume and source they turn to. Let see…
Take for example Joseph Smith. He had many doubts and questions to say nothing about the changes, challenges, trials, temptations, loss, and pain. He seemed to gain faith with each passing year and experience. Why and how did he go from a leader of faith to loosing his footing?
A crisis of content
I suspect the answer is found in the answer to this question, who did he turn to? When “sore trials come upon you and you are tempest tossed,” who do you turn to? The source you decide to turn to determines the firmness of your faith, direction of your life and eventual eternal destiny. It may not be a crisis of your faith after all, but perhaps a crisis of content you are plagued with.
What would you say if BMW ran ads with the slogan, “a horrible driving machine?” instead of “the ultimate driving machine?” Their cars would be the same regardless, but the outcome of the company would be in jeopardy because of the content of their campaigns. It’s no different in our lives.
What content we consume is critical, especially during the “divine discontent,” “strivings within,” gospel questioning, and free-falling faith moments of our lives.
10 years ago I was in a young singles ward on the East coast. You meet lots of diverse people, backgrounds, circumstance and situations. There was one talented girl I met on a number of occasions at different events. We never dated or even really “hung out.” One late night I received a surprise call from her. She was having a moment of spiritual crisis in her life and wanted to talk. I still don’t know what it was that instilled enough confidence and trust, but I’ve always appreciated it and never forgot her or our discussion. I received the simple, common-sense impressions (revelation) that what we go through is not as important as who we turn to. The source of your sorrows is not as important as the source of your strength.
I don’t think her spiritual safety belt was unbuckled but the questions she had about life experiences anticipated a collision course and possible correction in her life that would be painful. She visualized she had come to a fork in the road and there were only two choices. What source would she turn to? What content would she consume to properly direct her? She turned to Jesus Christ for strength and resumed a steady diet of Living Water and Daily Bread.
“Daily decisions determine destiny.” President Thomas S. Monson
An experience years later in her life, she choose a different direction away from the safety of the gospel and source of ultimate strength, Jesus Christ. Her faith had floundered and she lost her footing because of the content she consumed and source she turned to.
I just want the truth
In the information age today even more choices abound on what content we can consume and who we can turn to. It’s not so black and white as good and evil or night and day, but the consequences are just as stark. “There is no neutral ground.” We are either moving toward or away from God.
“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” Mosiah 4:30
But this much I can tell you, that if you do not watch the content you consume, and the source you turn to, and especially your world wide web (www) searching and observe the truth of God already on the earth, and continue in the faith even unto the end of your life, ye must be tossed about with every wind of doctrine like the waves of the sea.
Such is the case for Hans Mattsson who was a leader of faith in Sweden. He eventually lost his footing because of the content he consumed and the sources he turned to when questions arose about God and His gospel. “I was just in a bubble, and we felt so happy — is it better to stay in the bubble and be happy? Or to face the truth?” Mattsson reasoned. As if truth and reason live in different spheres diametric of each other 🙂 Of course his questions are sincere and desires noble, “I don’t want to hurt the church… I just want the truth.”
If Joseph Smith had questions and doubts, why didn’t he go from a leader of faith to loosing his footing?
No wonder other mormons are searching the web and finding doubt. They are drinking down stream instead of going to the source.