Just like the soreness of muscles after a hard workout, the pain of the questions we ask is a sign of growth, not of weakness.
During my first year of classes at Brigham Young University (BYU), I was confronted with complexities in the Church’s history and doctrine that I had never been aware of before. There came a frightening point when I began to question my testimony, and I wondered if what I had been taught my whole life was really true. With the help of family members, dear friends, and—most importantly—the Lord, I was able to navigate my way through the cloud of confusion that had temporarily shrouded the light of the restored gospel. My questions eventually led me to deeper understanding and stronger faith.
I’m not the only one who’s faced difficult questions concerning faith. As Elder Bruce C. Hafen and Sister Marie Hafen illustrate in their BYU–Hawaii address “Faith Is Not Blind,” these complex questions are not a sign of spiritual deficiency but rather of growth. Almost all seekers of truth begin in a phase in which they ignore or are unaware of what the Hafens call the “gap of uncertainty.” “For them, the gospel at its best is a firm handshake, a high five, and a smiley face,” explains Elder Hafen. They enjoy the social network and good feelings of the Church but haven’t yet confronted uncertainty.
The next phase is acknowledgment of complexity: we recognize that there are imperfect people in the Church, both past and present. We realize that we may not have all the answers. Although painful, this phase is important because “if we don’t see the problems that exist, we won’t be able to help solve them.”
Struggling through uncertainty can be likened to the struggle of a difficult workout. Before training, an athlete may feel calm, carefree, and full of energy. But the strenuous exertion on the track or at the gym can leave the athlete feeling exhausted and perhaps even a little weak.
But, as all athletes know, the pain of exertion leads to greater strength—and the same can be true regarding our complex questions. “The best response to the gap of uncertainty,” says Sister Hafen, “is at [phase] three, where we see both the real and the ideal, not only with our eyes wide open, but also with our hearts wide open as well.” In this phase, we’re stronger and ready to help others who may have questions similar to our own.
To learn more about the different stages of faith, read Elder Bruce C. Hafen and Sister Marie Hafen’s full speech: “Faith Is Not Blind.”
—Brooklyn Bird, Latter-day Saint Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY VICTOR FREITAS
Find more insights
To learn how another young adult approaches faith complexities, read Jesse King’s Latter-day Saint Insights article “Taking Back My Faith.”
Listen to an interview with the Hafens in a podcast episode by Leading Saints titled “Encouraging Faith That Sees through Complexity.”