November 8, 2015

Faith, Doubt, and the 2 Wolves.

*This post was written in July but I never published it. I don't know if I ever really intended to or if I just wrote these things down as a way to journal for myself. However today I felt really impressed to finish and share it.

2015 was the roughest beginning to any year of my life. Clint and I were moving away from Texas and the friendships and life that we had built there. Finding a new place to live, getting school figured out, and everything else that comes with moving of course didn't' make it easier. When we were in Salt Lake City for Christmas right before the move, I got in a pretty awful sledding accident (I should make up a cooler story, but that's legitimately what happened) and believe it or not it left me basically immobile for quite some time.

So yes. I knew coming into 2015 that we were off to a rough start. 

And then my faith was tested even more.

During this time (especially the first couple of months) I couldn't feel the presence of the spirit in my life. Maybe it was because I was too busy wallowing in self pity, or letting my fear of the future replace my faith. But whatever it was I felt completely abandoned. I pleaded for Heavenly Father's help. I cried for it, and begged for strength and to feel his presence. When I didn't feel immediate reassurance or comfort, I began to doubt.

I can honestly say that this is the first time in my life that I ever had a struggle with my faith and I was absolutely torn. I began to question everything that I thought I had known for my entire life. Not only did I start to question my religion, but for a brief moment I began to think that the existence of a God seemed kind of far fetched. And it breaks my heart to even read these words. I felt anger towards myself, and anger towards Heavenly Father. I felt guilt thinking that maybe I had done something wrong that God was punishing me for. I felt sadness and I felt completely alone. 

At some point I realized that I had 2 choices. I could either back out of everything that I knew. I could deny every spiritual experience I had ever had and allow these feelings of doubt to take over my life and my beliefs. Or I could push forward with the little bit of faith that I was clinging to.

I decided to try out the latter. Each day I would just strive to put one foot in front of the other, doing the small things like reading my scriptures, trying to praying sincerely, and going to church. As the months have passed, things have become a little bit easier and I began to feel more and more of the loving and reassuring feelings that I was longing for. I knew that my doubts were unwarranted and that I had allowed bad feelings to build upon each other and fester but I still didn't feel spiritually reassured 100% and the doubt still lingered. 

But today as I attended a baptism, the Spirit spoke to me so strongly that I had made it through this trial and that I had been strengthened by it. The story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son came to mind. Heavenly Father knew that Abraham would do anything that was asked of him, so why would He put Abraham through such an emotionally challenging test? President Hugh B. Brown answered this questions by saying "Perhaps Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham."

This year, Heavenly Father needed me to learn something about me. He needed me to show my faith even when I felt I had absolutely nothing to show. He needed me to know that in times of trial and testing, I couldn't retreat and allow negative feelings to take over. I needed to square up my shoulders and hold to whatever I could. He needed me to "doubt (my) doubt before I doubted my faith".

There's a Cherokee story of 2 wolves. An elderly Cherokee man tells his grandson that there is a battle between 2 wolves that goes on inside us all. One wolf is evil, anger, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, false pride, and ego. The other is good, joy, peace, love, hope, humility, truth, compassion and faith. The grandson asks "Which one wins?" The old Cherokee man replied "The one that you feed."

When you come upon doubts or trials ask yourself which wolf you are feeding- the wolf of faith or the wolf of doubt?  Are you surrounding yourself with others who are feeding the same wolf you want to feed?

Borrowing the words from this blog:

"The Wolf of Doubt quickly turns to anger, indignation, public acrimony and discussion. He takes offense, and is quick to share it.  He searches for allies and information to validate his views. He turns to sources that are not enlightened, are not sanctioned by God. He will look to support his doubt…
And he will find it. There are many who are more than happy to feed the Wolf of Doubt.
The Wolf of Faith is quick to restrain his reaction. He turns to sources he knows are endorsed by God. He is not afraid to drop to his knees and seek truth from God through the Spirit before he makes up his mind – and especially before he speaks out. He will look to find that which will support his faith…"
If you're at a point where you have the choice to give up your faith or push forward in faith, I hope that something I have said helps you. Don't turn to people who are feeding the wrong wolf, turn to your Heavenly Father. Lean on what you do know. Lean on the little things which at the end of the day are actually the big things. Lean on the knowledge that when you are going through something hard and you don't know where God is, the teacher is always quiet during the test.