“Come, come ye saints, no toil nor labor fear, but with joy, wend your way.”
This second year of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has certainly not looked like I expected it would.
Two years ago, on the day I was baptized, I believed I was making a commitment to God, this church, and to this gospel - the commitment to God being the most important, and the commitment to this church being an appendage to that, but not an integral part.
I believed that God had led me to this church and these principles - faith in a God who acts morally towards Their children and provides salvation from the ills of this life, and repentance of wrongs and ignorance with the possibility to grow and improve. I believed that God had led me, and I believed that God would continue to lead me. I did not assume that this day or this church was necessarily the last stop. I committed to following God wherever God led for my whole life - whether God intended to keep me in this church or not. My baptismal covenant - for ME, personally - was not a covenant to any church but a covenant with a living God who continues to speak to us.
This past year has not been like anything I would have imagined or chosen. It has surely been a year spent seeking God in God’s various forms. Trying desperately to find God’s voice. Learning about who God is, what God is like.
The things I have learned about God in this second year are quite different than the things I learned about God in my first year. But they are also the same. I have learned that God is love. I have learned that God is present. I have learned that God is big - bigger than anything we can imagine in our tiny imperfect human minds.
On the day I was baptized, I received a small compass pendant. I wore this necklace daily as a sign and symbol of the commitments I'd made, as a reminder of my responsibilities and, more importantly, God’s promises. In the book of 1 Nephi, Lehi and his family use the Liahona to know where to go. God gives the Liahona power to show Lehi where to go as he has faith and is obedient to the commandments, as he does what is right. My necklace reminded me of this Liahona, and reminded me that as I was faithful and trusting, I would be led to know what to do. I believed that God had led me thus far, and that God would continue to show me whither I should go.
Two years of trusting that I would always be led, as long as I sought guidance and listened.
Well, most of two years. There was a period during this second year that I did not believe that I would could be led. I don't know why this happened. I don't know if I was led during this time. I can't explain all the feelings that I had during that time, or why I had them - anger, confusion, sadness, hopelessness, loneliness. But I know again that I am guided by a light which resides deep within me, which can be heard when I cultivate stillness and practice the discipline of simply being.
I find moments of happiness. I find moments of wholeness. I find pieces of a confident trust in a power beyond myself. I hope.
I am not the same girl I was on the day of my baptism. I am not the same kind of Mormon I was the day I was baptized. However, my name is on the books and I hold to a hope that there is a power within and beyond us which beckons us forward and will deign to reveal to us what we should do - a power many call “God.” A power which created our world and our lives and is deeply invested in the happenings of our existence. A being who longs to see all of creation, “all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people” liberated from sin and darkness and united in love for one another.
Because I hold to this hope, because I believe in a God who continually gives new information to humanity, because I want to be a part of a community who encourages questions and seeks to learn what God would have them learn, because I love the story of a small boy with big questions who was brave enough and confident enough to ask God what’s what - because of all these things, I'll keep the “Mormon” label. And I'll end this in a characteristically Mormon fashion - with a testimony.
Today, on this two-year anniversary, I believe two things.
- The day dawn is breaking.
- We’ll find the place which God for us prepared.
I have this hope as an anchor for my soul.