There’s a lot that I just don’t know or understand, and that bothers me. I don’t like to not know, especially things that affect me personally and deeply. I find it frustrating and hard to deal with that.
As I’ve experienced life these past six months or so, I think the most common question I’ve asked is “why?” Why is life the way it is? Why do we feel what we feel? Why do certain things happen?
As I’ve debated that question with myself and even with others, I stumbled on an interesting thought that has, perhaps, shifted my thoughts on this question. For a long time, I assumed that understanding why would help, that it would make a lot of things better. It certainly seems that knowing why certain things happened would make them more digestible or perhaps tolerable, but as I spoke about that with Bishop Lott, he told me that it wouldn’t, and that the reason it wouldn’t is because answering why doesn’t actually answer anything. It just creates more questions, each with another why on the end and each why with an equally unsatisfying answer.
Why, in a lot of ways, also looks backward. It looks towards the past with a critical eye of expected change as though merely understanding would change what had happened. I don’t believe that is true anymore. It’s a false hope to think it so, as hard (and yes it is) to hear and accept that.
One of the things that I’ve done this past summer to help is to write sayings on the mirrors in our bedroom. One that has become almost a mantra for me is “Faith is Forward.”
Moroni speaks of Faith, Hope, and Charity as a singular process where one leads to the next and together all towards happiness. As I’ve pondered deeply those three virtues, and especially the idea that faith is forward, I’ve come to realize something with greater clarity.
First–Faith truly is forward. For faith to be faith, it has to be based on the darkness ahead and the surety that there really is a path in the darkness. If I knew the path were there, it would not be faith but knowledge. The Lord never told us that our knowledge would make us whole, though I certainly don’t discount the value of that true faith-based knowledge. As I’ve cast my eyes into the darkness in front of me, I have not seen the path. I truly haven’t. But that hasn’t stopped me from believing it’s there.
Second–Hope. A long time ago, I thought that Moroni had put Faith and Hope in the wrong order, because surely hope was what led to faith. After all, wouldn’t you first hope on truth before having the faith to believe it? Yes and no. When Moroni spoke of hope, however, he was speaking of something that came about from faith, not something that led to faith. As I thought about that, the thought occurred to me that hope is really the practiced assurance that our faith was well-placed, that the Savior not only can but that He will do what He has said He would.
As I think of the darkness of the paths before me–and especially the lack of answers to my understanding–I recognize that faith is leading to hope. I think of Peter standing there in the waves with the distant Savior standing on the water…. What on earth would have driven him to that point? Surely it was not faith. Rather, it was the hope that that distant Figure standing on the sea really was and is the Savior Jesus Christ. Surely mere faith would not have compelled him to cast himself onto the water with the hope that that which could not support him would do so. As I look out across the storms of my life, I wonder if it is faith or hope that leads me forward? And if it is only faith, how can I gain for myself that surety that the faith I have placed before me really will lead me where I want to go to the places I want to be? And knowing that, won’t that be hope? Yes.
Third–Charity. As I think about the progression towards charity–love, true love, towards all men–I wonder what it is about truly and faithfully placed hope in the Savior that leads us to charity. What in Peter’s miraculous attempt to come to the Savior is charitable? It’s this: that at the moment of deepest despair and fear, when all else had failed and the weakness of Peter’s mortality cried out in fear, He was there. Is that not charity? When all else is gone and nothing more remains but to cry out, that help that comes is charity.
As I think of those I love–even those whom I have lost–I think this is charity. That my faith in the power of the atonement to truly fix all that has gone behind me leads me to the lasting hope that it is really so, and then believing that it is so, I can act with the confidence of charity to go forward and be a light to those around me.
When it comes right down to it, I still don’t know why, and not knowing still hurts me deeply. There are days… times… when I would see myself giving a great deal to know the why of what happened. To truly see and knowing, hopefully, to fix. To repair and renew. Heaven knows I would welcome that moment!
But instead of asking why, the Lord asks that we place one foot in front of the other, in faith. And taking that step, hoping truly that the path He has promised He would make for us has indeed been trod, worn by His own hands and feet. That He has truly marked the path. And then when we truly know and can hope in the safety and surety of that path, we can truly feel that charity.
And one more thought… We often think of gaining charity as though it was an attribute we would feel for others, but could it not also just be feeling the charity that the Savior has for me? For each of us? I’ll be honest when I say that all I really want in asking why is safety. To understand. Wouldn’t it be more to me–more worth–to feel charity? To feel just how much He cares and loves me?
The most distressing lie I’ve ever believed is that I’ve gone too far or been worth so little as to not matter to Him. Perhaps that is when Peter failed. Not because he didn’t believe, but because he didn’t believe that he mattered enough to have the attention of the Savior during that critical moment. That he wasn’t worthy of the charity of the Savior.
How far did Peter descend before he called for help? How far will we? Those might be the questions you have, but I think the real question is how fast will He come when we cry out?
I believe in a running Savior; one who rushes to the aid of the downtrodden and the hurt and the lonely and the scared. Yes, I believe in a running Savior.