Monday, April 15, 2013

I bore my testimony???

So, yesterday I bore my testimony at church for the first time in well over seven years. What compelled me to do such a thing? I don't really know. I do know that Elder Holland's conference talk really spoke to me (more on that later), which isn't shocking because I'm pretty sure he peers into the soul of every single person who hears him speak. It kind of inspired me. And I like to share my experiences and tell people what I think, so...what better platform, right? (Oh, right. A blog. A blog is a pretty good platform, too.)

The testimony I shared is exactly what I have written on this blog as my "hope testimony".

And then a strange thing happened. People stood up and said that their testimonies were basically the same thing, a hope that this stuff is true, not a knowledge of it. At least ten people approached me throughout the day and told me that my "testimony" was the most inspiring testimony they had heard in a long time.

Say what???

They said that the honesty was refreshing. A few people told me that they or their husband or their son really needed to hear it. What is happening here???

Anyway, this morning I read Alma 32 (obviously). "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." Alma 32:21

Oh my gosh, I have faith? I think I do. That is exactly what my testimony is--hoping for things I don't see (with my eyes or my reason).

So then I started reading lots of hope scriptures.

Jacob 2:19--"And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them." Not after you obtain knowledge, but after you obtain hope.

Ether 12:4--"Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." Hope seems to be sufficient to anchor the soul, which then leads to all this other stuff.

Moroni 8:26--"and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God." I like this one because we tend to view the Holy Ghost as a means to obtaining knowledge, but this is saying that his job is to fill us with hope and love, which appears to be sufficient.

13th Article of Faith: "We believe all things, we hope all things..." There is no claim that we know all things. We admit here, and indeed in all the other Articles of Faith as well, that we believe this stuff--we hope it.

I think it's interesting that our church--or at least the culture of it--places such a premium on knowing. We see kids being trained to say it from the very beginning. ("I'd like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet." Yadah, yadah, yadah.) Why do we do this? The scriptures don't seem to indicate that knowledge is the stuff of righteousness or salvation. Faith is. Hope is. I mean, as Alma does go on to say, hope should compel us to "experiment upon the word", which means living the principles of the gospel, testing them to see if they do indeed bring us the happiness they promise. But I'm just not getting the message here that knowledge is the requirement, or even the goal.

I know you're probably thinking all of this is obvious, and wondering how I could have missed it all my life. Well, I did hear/read these scriptures over and over, and I did have a million lessons on Alma 32. Indeed, I delivered many of them myself. But they always seemed to end in the possibility of obtaining knowledge. You know, if you're righteous enough you might obtain that. And I'm sure that a lot of my faith problems have to do with my personality, with the way I processed this stuff. But I'm clearly not alone. For goodness' sake, in ONE ward, at least TEN people APPROACHED me! Who knows how many people feel the same way but didn't approach me? And who knows how many people there are in all the other wards? And how many other people weren't attending any ward at all yesterday BECAUSE they have these issues?

I blame "Moroni's promise" (Moroni 10:4-5). "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere hear, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

Or rather, I blame our emphasis on Moroni's promise. We teach kids to seek this. As missionaries, our entire purpose is teaching investigators to seek this. We largely define a "testimony" as having received this witness. But what about all the people who never get this? Or what about those of us who think we have, but later realize maybe we haven't? This emphasis on knowledge and bearing "testimony" of knowledge makes the church a really hard place to be for people whose minds just don't work like this.

How about teaching people to hope for these things? Maybe for their entire lives. Maybe it's okay to just hope and experiment until you die. That's probably what I'll be doing. But I think Alma says it's enough in Alma 32:43--"Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffereing, wating for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you."

We are rewarded for faith and diligence, not for knowledge.

I have a dream--a hope, if you will--that one day, in LDS congregations all over the world, people will honestly acknowledge their doubts. They will feel safe to say that they don't know. The church will be a place where people come because they're experimenting upon the word, they're hoping for something, together. They're helping each other sustain that hope and test the principles of the gospel in their lives. THAT is what I believe the church should be for. It shouldn't be a club for knowers. It should be a support group for hopers.


  1. Just so you know, I love you Adrienne. I have always looked up to you. Thanks for being you. You put into words what I think many people feel but can't put their finger on.

    I had an experience on my mission when I really questioned what I was doing and if I really believed in the church. After about a week of thinking about it and remembering all the things that I had learned and felt all my life I came to a very simple conclusion: believing in the church and living the gospel made me happy. It made me insanely happy, and even if it turned out not to be true (which I honestly believe it is) I would not regret living it for one moment. It does make me a better person and that is a good thing.

    I still go through cycles of feeling this way, but the fact that it makes me so happy is something that I can not ignore.

    Keep on your journey my friend. No matter where you end up, I think you will be better for it.


  2. I don't know you and I'm not sure how this blog entry showed up on my news feed on Facebook, but I'm so glad it did. I've been struggling with the same thing lately and I thought I was a freak. Everyone around me seems so sure of themselves, like they absolutely KNOW the church is true. I know that because of the gospel I am a better person, but lately I felt like I didn't know FOR SURE, and I didn't want to feel like a liar when my babies get older and I teach them the gospel. But I've been coming to terms that as long as I have faith and hope that these things are true, and keep trying to do what's right, then I'm on the right path. Thanks again.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. I am inspired by how many people seem to identify with my feelings and issues. I guess none of us are alone after all. Let's speak up! There must be even more of us out there. I hope we can slowly change the culture of Mormonism, to where it is safe and even encouraged to be honest. That's the only way to support each other in this thing.

  3. Thanks for your testimony. I've always felt a connection with your struggle. I believe testimony is a relationship that is developed bit by bit. Just like a human relationship builds over time and through shared experience, so do testimonies grow over time.
    Sure love ya!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Hello! I know your husband, Andrew, through an organ donation on-profit I worked for where we interfaced with student body presidents. Anyway- i wanted to comment and say that you're an inspiration for your optimism. Faith is HOPING that things are true-- and of course, we can hope to have a future KNOWLEDGE of things, but like Elder Holland said, HOPING is enough-- and with optimism, things tend to grow. You're amazing! Thanks for sharing your experiences!!!

  6. Thank you so much for your kind words. How fun that you know Andrew! :)

  7. Adrienne,
    I don't know how I got here. It may have been on facebook, then three clicks later I was reading your story, then on to your testimony that I missed. It's Monica. We moved from Franklin Ward last June. I have the kids with the digital ears. :)
    I now have one regret, I was asked if I would be willing to switch VT routes and work with JaCee to teach you. At the time I was at a spiritual low working on my own testimony finding strength to raise yet another deaf child and didn't feel like I could reach out far enough beyond my own needs to lift you. (I hadn't even met you yet). I regret turning the RS down because I missed out on a wonderful friendship. I see now that we have more in common then I initially ever realized.
    Your testimony is awesome. Thanks for sharing. Keep the hope.

    1. Monica, hi! I totally remember you and your beautiful children!

      Bummer that I didn't get to know you better through visiting teaching, but I'm so happy you found my blog. These testimony struggles take a lot out of me in good times--they are even harder in hard times (especially the ones that involve our kids!), so I totally understand your feeling of being overwhelmed.

      It's so nice to know that we connect on these issues. :)

  8. This blog has given me a voice after so many years of trying to put words to how I feel. I posted a link to this blog entry on my Facebook page and was released from my calling the following week. I needed to be released. I was not pulling my weight in the calling. However, I wasn't even told I was going to be released they just announced it one Sunday. I found out when I asked a question about Mutual and shortly afterward received a phone call from the Bishop stating I had been released. I was deeply hurt that I wasn't even thought enough about to receive a phone call to let me know I was released. Sad that we can't love each other more and judge each other less. I know the Bishop is just a man, but I'm not sure how to process the way he treated me.

  9. My is nancy
    I and my boyfriend were seriously in love for six
    years and we were planning to get married but one
    day he came to my house and told me he was no
    longer interested in our relationship simply because
    he was dating another rich lady who promises to buy
    him a car and to sponsor their wedding. And I suffer
    heartbreak for seven months and I was not tired of
    loving him. So I take a bold step by contacting a spell
    caster net who help me bring my ex boyfriend back. He is
    powerful and great you can contact him in any kind of
    problem. if you are interested.
    Contact him via this email :(
    or contact him through his mobile:+2348115436874.

  10. Hi Adrienne. Your friend told me about your blog since we are so much alike. I'm having so much fun reading it. Thank you for your honesty. We are SO on the same page. I'll be in your support group for hopers:)! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Yes! I am uncomfortable with all of the truthiness and knowiness in the church. I am a hoper. I'd love to join your support group ;)

    Great job!