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The Capacity for Doubt

May 28, 2008

As I was drying dishes this evening, I read a post linked from ExII’s Virtual Oases, about the dilemma of staying in the Church or leaving.

And it made me sad. I don’t know all her reasons for wanting to leave; she didn’t go into that. It was more of an explore-my-options kind of post: should I stay and go through the motions so I can have a voice here, should I leave and be true to what I feel. But even so, it makes me sad.

And it makes me wonder: Where does doubt begin? I remember going through something like this as a teenager. I struggled, I anguished, I prayed. And this was my answer, the bedrock of my faith: a deep, powerful, resonant experience of God’s love for me, something so potent that it almost hurt.

This is what I remember when I read about doubt, and begin to empathize a little too much: that incredible love and peace. Presumably some of the people who write with this angst have also experience the Spirit in such a way. But it is easy to forget, to talk yourself out of it, to say that what you felt was not really so.

Where does it begin, that capacity for doubt? Am I in the right place now? Because I do not want to doubt. The love I felt as a teenager, I’ve felt it again as I analyze the scriptures, as I do initiatory work in the temple. I have felt it with my children, nursing a baby in the middle of the night, knowing I was right with God by so doing. But I think it’s important for me to be aware of my own capacity for doubt, by which I mean, it’s possible, very possible, even given the blessings I know to be true, to lose what I know. If I am scared of falling off the path, if I know that I am capable of doing so, maybe I will be more careful in my efforts to stay on. Not careful in the anal list-checking way. That is not the Gospel. Careful in the way I keep my heart: broken, with a spirit contrite.

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