Disclaimer: This post is religious. Obviously. If that’s not something you’re into just scroll right on down to another post. But my faith is such a huge part of my concept of the world that it’s impossible for me not to talk about it.
I spent 14 months in south Texas studying faith. I had heard about it all my life, to the point that I just tuned out a talk or lesson harping on the same simple thing all the time. But on my mission I really had to put it into action and I just didn’t understand it in practice.
I heard countless times, “Just trust God, have faith, and you will be healed.” I thought for a long time that I just needed to BELIEVE harder. I remember praying and closing my eyes and scrunching up my face, trying to believe harder and to feel the faith to be healed.
News flash: that doesn’t work.
Because here’s the thing about faith. It’s not believing harder. You either believe or you don’t. Faith isn’t the absence of doubts, it’s choosing to believe in spite of your doubts and questions. Please, my dear friend, never doubt that you believe just because good things aren’t happening for you. And if any well-intentioned but misguided friends say, “You just need to have more faith,” just politely nod and walk the other way. The faith you have is enough for God to work in your life.
You don’t measure faith by amount of believing. You measure faith by trying. Are you trying to go to church? Are you trying to read scriptures and talk with Heavenly Father every day? Are you trying to love others and your family? Then you have faith that those things might help you.
In my case, I showed my faith because I was still on my mission. I showed my faith by dragging myself to doctors and counselors and taking all the dumb medications they gave me. When I got home, I showed my faith by continuing to seek good therapists, psychiatrists, and doctors. I showed my faith by praying every day for a miracle that would bring me some relief. I showed my faith by never. giving. up. Even when I desperately wanted to.
And I continue to live faith. Faith is an action and a feeling, and you have to do it to feel it.
One of my favorite stories is from this talk by David A. Bednar- I’ll let you go read it for yourself but basically a man has bone cancer and asks for a blessing from Elder Bednar. Elder Bednar asks him a penetrating question:
Do you have the faith not to be healed?
These words explained everything for me. Faith doesn’t mean that if we believe harder we’ll talk God into giving us what we want. Faith means that we’ll love and serve and keep the commandments and repent and try to do all that He asks us, all the while accepting His will for our lives. He loves us. I testify of that. I know that a loving Father in Heaven would never allow anything to happen to us that that wasn’t for our good. He says to ask in faith believing that we’ll receive, but at the same time we need to trust Him that we’ll receive in the time and way that He knows is best.
When we have the faith NOT to receive what we’re asking for, that’s when a miracle really happens- the miracle of change, which refines our spirits to be fit to return to Him and be glorified. That is God’s ultimate, grand, eternal quest.