My New Year's Resolution is to live up to the Robert Makee quote on the side of my blog. I want to write bravely, and without fear. The problem is, I tend to worry about what people think, and I fear ridicule, rejection and failure. In making this my resolution, it might so happen that people will ask about my resolution and in so doing find out about my blog. Then I may have more people reading my blog that is saying more courageous things. Hopefully this doesn't backfire. Hopefully I still have friends when this is all said and done.
I have two requests of my readers. First, feel free to push back. If I say something that you think is outlandish, tell me so, tell me why. Secondly, extend some grace. My thoughts and opinions are constantly changing, so give me the space to change my mind. Maybe you'll push back, and I'll agree. That's cool. Let me think 'aloud' and shift perspectives.
That said, I thought I'd try it out. Often I think about something for days, or weeks before it becomes a blog. This is something I have yet to fully think about, so hear me out.
Over the past couple of months, I've been meeting with a couple of LDS missionaries. One thing they've told me is that I've changed for the better since we've started meeting, and this is because of the Spirit. I want to evaluate this claim. I'd agree that I've changed, but I am not sure if it has been for the better or if the change was brought about by a superphysical presence.
How have I changed? At the beginning of the fall semester I was feeling quite miserable. Bible School was far from fun. By the end, I was enjoying the social life at my school, and that made things a lot better. I would credit that change to honesty. While at the beginning of the year I felt pressure to conform, be a good little Christian girl, as more people found out about my lack of faith, conversations became real. That was nice. While that change paralleled the time I was meeting with the missionaries, it seems to be completely unrelated, caused neither by the missionaries nor by a Spirit.
Prior to meeting with the missionaries, I felt quite content with the idea that there might not be a god in this universe. I ordered my life in such a way that I was not living for validation from a divine being. That was going fine. As I began meeting with the missionaries, they'd ask questions like "if there is a good God, and his Spirit could speak to you, would you want that?" In so doing, they instilled within me a desire to know this good god. It was a desire I once had, but after years of disappointment, I'd given up. Why wouldn't I have given up. But now, now I wonder, is there a good God out there? Is it possible that I could do more good with him than without him? Is it possible that he's Mormon? Is it possible that he's been chasing me all these years that I've been loving Mormons? While I can weave a nice story, as long as I know that I've made it up, it's not too meaningful. Without knowing if there is a god, I do not know if this change is for the better. Perhaps I'd be better of not chasing the supernatural, and rather using my time to serve the poor.
I have a greater desire to tell the truth. While I'm generally not an outright liar, I try to avoid things, or "soften the truth" if in so doing I think people will be happy or like me more. My people pleasing has some dangerous side effects and it is fear, probably more than anything else, that keeps me from speaking openly about what is on my mind. I guess this blog-resolution is just one why in which I am trying to be honest about where I'm at. (Side note: While I want to be honest about where I am at, I don't want to be trapped here. I'm not all that content in this nowhere place. So, as I said above, let me change). Why? Why has this change occurred? I find myself seeking for genuine community, that requires honesty. Perhaps my desire stems my Bible College experience noted above. Perhaps I have faith, and faith, being the opposite of fear has driven out this fear. But faith in what? Most likely, I think I am tired of hiding. It is no fun. My best friendships are the ones where I am totally honest. I'm not sure I needed the Mormons, I'm not sure I needed the Spirit to teach me that.
When I first started meeting with these missionaries, it was quite different than in times gone by. I had no agenda, no desire to convert them because I didn't believe that I knew more than they did. I had no motivation to meet with them other than they asked, and I said sure. A couple weeks into our meeting, acknowledging it was somewhat ridiculous, they asked if I would set a baptismal date. I said no. I didn't want to get their hopes up only to disappoint them. I wasn't going to get baptised. They kept meeting with me. A couple weeks later they asked again. "Will you, Patricia, take a step of faith and set a date to be baptised." I said "no, I don't believe it." But the missionary went on to explain how setting a date didn't bind me to baptism, but showed Heavenly Father that I was willing to act if he gave me an answer. I said "Ask me again in 2 weeks." I also mentioned that if I set a date, I thought I'd go through with it. I like doing the things I say I'll do. A week later they asked me again. I said no. Maybe I was just being stubborn. It hadn't been two weeks yet. A week and a half after that they asked me again. I said okay. January 11th, we decided. January 11 would be "the day." The stipulating being that if I don't believe by then, I don't get baptised. So, I changed. I went from an unwillingness to set a baptismal date, to setting that ever approaching date. Perhaps I changed because I understood it differently. Could I credit the Spirit for this? Did he open my mind, or give me a bit of faith so that I thought that there might be a slight possibility of me getting baptised? Did I just do it because it'd make them happy and I'm just as much a people pleaser as I've ever been? I don't think so. I think it was because of how they phrased it.
Well, I'm getting ready for baptism. If I had to decide today I wouldn't get baptised; I don't believe. I've got 8 days to believe. In my preparation I've been reading my Book of Mormon every night and praying. It's been a long time since I've prayed, but now, I offer a thought to God every now and then throughout the days. I'm not sure it makes any difference. Does the spirit lead me to pray? Is it an old suppressed habit that is coming back? I don't know. Does the Spirit lead me to read the Book of Mormon every night? I don't think so. I do it though, because I want to know. Really, I don't want the LDS church to be true, but if it is, I want to know. I want to have faith. And, if it is not true, I'd wanna know that too. I'm not sure praying is the way to come to decide if something is true. There are those who pray about the Book of Mormon and are convinced. I'm yet to be one of them. Is the Spirit changing me? If I was a little more convinced one way or the other, this post might be more controversial. For some, that I even consider that the Spirit might be directing me towards Baptism is reason enough for concern. I'm pretty skeptical myself.