Today was testimony meeting and I bore my testimony and received quite a few compliments and thanks. So, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of my thoughts here.
Here goes- Most of my life I’ve struggled with the idea of knowing something without a doubt. Perhaps that is driven by my skepticism and natural tendency to question, so I always find something that would help me know for certain. Due to this, I felt a bit like something was wrong with me, that I was not feeling the spirit strongly enough and if I were more spiritual then I would actually know.
|Courtesy of Wikipedia. I’m not suggesting that I’m a sovereign prince of Egypt, just read on and all will become clear.|
I would tell myself that I knew, even though I didn’t. I thought that maybe if I just kept saying that I knew, eventually, I would actually know. That day never came.
After going through a long period where I wouldn’t bear my testimony because I didn’t feel like I could honestly say I ‘Knew,” I stumbled upon some verses in Doctrine and Covenants talking about spiritual gifts. The verses talk about how some are given the gift of knowing that Christ is the savior and to others it is given the gift of believing on the words of those that know (D&C 46:13-14).
I finally felt that it was ok to not know. My belief was validated. I’ve come to feel that there is a power in belief, after all, as we learned from The Prince of Egypt, there can be miracles if you believe (yeah, you should probably start playing this now. Maybe play it and start reading from the beginning again, to enhance the emotional impact.).
I think that there’s something about belief that differs from certainty. Not to value one over the other, but to show the strengths of a profession of belief. (I’ve already looked at some of the Pros and Cons of Believing vs Knowing, if you’re interested.) This quote from Erich Fromm gives a sense of what I mean.
“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”
The idea that being uncertain is when you can truly show faith and find the meaning in life and whatever pain and suffering surrounds you is powerful. As I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea of not knowing and believing, I’ve come to embrace uncertainty and strengthened my desire to find meaning in life.
Some may be uncomfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, finding hope and strength in the solid facts and truths of the Gospel. And that’s great. But for me, joy is found more in the unknown, the exploration of the final theological frontier. I also think that certain actions gain more power when they are made without knowledge and only belief. Like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy steps off the cliff onto the bridge that he couldn’t see. That choice is all the more impressive because he did not know the outcome. He believed, but did not know.
None of this is to say that I am anti-knowledge. I love the pursuit of knowledge and learning new things. I simply struggle with declarations of knowledge dealing with worlds unknown. I don’t doubt that others can honestly declare their knowledge, but simply struggle with personally reaching a state of knowledge. I believe that one day I will be able to say that I know, but that day is not this day. This day, I believe!
PS Yes, that was a riff on Aragorn’s fantastic motivational speech from The Return of the King at the Black Gate.
PPS Here’s where I wrote my ‘This I Believe,” if you’re curious.