Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exercising Ambiguity Is Exercising Faith

Note: I am learning how to create a blog and I do not yet know how to connect a link to my post. When I refer to something I read I can only give the location of where to find the particular blog that I am referring to.

As I am exploring the creation of my blog I keep reading other blogs and I am intrigued. Today I want to talk about what I've gleaned from one post, in particular, and how I can use the gift of ambiguity as I embark on my journey to return to church and to embrace reconciliation along the way. It is a new journey for me that draws parallels similar to my baptism.

When I was 19 years old my grandpa stood in the baptismal font and guided me as I entered the waters of baptism. On one hand I knew that it was a completely personal and spiritual act and on the other it was meaningful to have my grandpa be the one to hold me as he baptized me. It was a special moment for us. On my baptismal program the verse that was shared was from 2 Nephi 31: 20. It reads: "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." My baptism was a time when I had broadened my horizons. When the musings of my heart were confirmed by what I had learned regarding the eternities from the LDS church's perspective. I knew that I was on a good path.

I believed back then that hope, love, feasting on the word of Christ and persistence were sources of positivity leading to a bright future. I had many wonderful times in the church and as I gained more knowledge and became more and more involved I soon began to struggle with doctrinal and cultural issues within mormonism. My struggles climaxed on my mission and with a lot of work I was able to find peace enough to continue steadfastly having hope, love, and effective scripture study to finish the work I believed I was called to do. However, those issues remained unresolved. As a returned missionary I continued to struggle and worked very hard at trying to ignore these issues by being "obedient"'. I went to church without fail for several years. I paid my tithe, went to the temple despite great dissenting views on that, and fulfilled my callings however painful they sometimes were. But the issues festered and, eventually, I turned away from the religion altogether.

Now, after 5 years of being away and as I view so many wonderful blogs I am building courage to believe that an ambiguous me, with a husband who is not a mormon, and as a woman who has no desire to have children, might be able to find a place in this church.

In my first post, I talk about ambiguity as being a gift that I can use on the road to reconciliation. Ambiguity may seem unappealing to some. To quote a song by Enya, "'s either this or that way, it's one way or the other...". Being ambiguous implies indecisiveness and a waffling attitude. If we are any of those things, it looks like we are of little or no faith. However, I see ambiguity as the ability to see things from many different perspectives, to exercise the brain in thought and the heart in compassion and empathy. The blog I mentioned earlier is called Things of My Soul by PapaD, which you can find on Mormon Blogosphere. Please check that out! The author expressed compassion and sympathy for Laman and Lemuel as they struggled to be obedient in the midst of adjusting themselves to the shock of their father becoming a prophet overnight and whisking them off into the wilderness. Often in the church I've heard Laman and Lemuel being criticized and even joked about for their "stiffneckedness". I agree with PapaD who suggests the great conflict that these brothers must have had while they worked hard to be obedient despite their 'dissenting' views. When compared to the ever faithful and obedient Nephi, Laman and Lemuel are seen on the opposite end of the continuum as being rebellious and having little faith. I would like to suggest, as I believe I did on PapaD's blog, that perhaps most of us who live in the world of ambiguity can relate much easier to Laman and Lemuel than to Nephi. We can appreciate the faithfulness of Nephi as it is presented in scripture, but we can learn a lot from Laman and Lemuel as heroes who simply strived for what they could despite their internal and behavioral conflicts.

My point is that with Laman and Lemuel's example we can see how living in ambiguity can be hugely difficult. We know it in our own lives. But what if ambiguity is actually a beautiful and intriguing place to be? What if it allows us to bump up against angering issues and frustrations in the church, accept our own reactions/responses to those issues (as well as others') through exploration via blogging, for instance, thereby building compassion, empathy, and understanding? Could it be done or am I dreaming?

In The Faithful Dissident's blog (on my blog or can be found on Mormon Blogosphere) I read that people can effect change better when they're inside the church as opposed to outside of the church. I believe that healthy ambiguity could be an effective way of remaining in the church, building a life of reconciliation and then effecting change, however subtly.

Approaching the road of reconciliation is similar to having entered the waters of baptism even though one is an ordinance and the other is not. They are both intentional. During baptism I exercised faith in simple ways. During this phase of reconciliation I plan to exercise faith using ambiguity in an attempt to make things a little simpler for me, as oxymoronic as that may sound. Thanks to the writings and examples of people who struggle in that place of ambiguity yet hold to their faith pressing on with hope, love for God and people, studying the word (in whatever form that works for you including these discussions), and staying the course. Thank you for that. You give me faith.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I followed the link from your comments on my blog. This moved me to tears, and I thank you for that.

    BTW, if you haven't figured it out yet, when you write a post, there is a button on the toolbar that looks like a small globe with one chain link on it. (It is to the right of the color button and to the left of the text alignment buttons.) If you want to link to a url, type the identifying text (for example, for my post about Laman and Lemuel you might type the title ("Thoughts on Unrealistic Expectations"), then highlight the text. When the text is highlighted, click the link button and type or paste the url into the box that appears. (for example, for my post, you would type or paste: Then, simply click "OK" - and the text will be underlined in your pre-published version. Once the post publishes, the linked text will change colors - and readers will be able to go to the url when they click the text.

    If you have any trouble with the instructions above, feel free to mention it in your next comment on my blog - which I really enjoy. (your comments, not my blog - *grin*)