Sunday, October 5, 2008

Faith is a Choice, Not A Feeling

When I was a fairly new and somewhat neurotic young mother, I wrote the following poem:

©1999 by Susan Noyes Anderson, Awaken Your Spiritual Power

Sometimes I'd like to be
the type
who lives my life
without a backward glance––
and I would dance
through days
unburdened, fancy-free.
Instead, I'm me.
You know, the one
who counts the cracks
on every wall
and then recounts them
lest it fall
(knowing full well the chances are
it will).
Still, I have moments
when I just
let go––
then I stop counting cracks
and count on
You ask if the wall falls?
It's safe.

Twice every year, in the spring and in the fall, my church has a meeting called General Conference. At this time, the leaders speak on a variety of subjects, prayerfully chosen by themselves. The first two sessions of this conference were yesterday; the last two are today and can be viewed or listened to here.

Anyway, one of the speakers (Elder Neil L. Andersen) made the following statement: "Faith is not only a feeling, it is a decision." He pointed out that we all have days when the journey seems too hard and the road too long, days when we feel like we don't have what it takes to go on. He then reminded us that, while we don't know everything, we do "know enough."

And that was the basic and recurring theme of his talk. "You know enough," he kept saying. Wherever you are in your journey of faith (and I'm paraphrasing now), you know enough to take one more step, and another step, and the next step. Elder Andersen's admonition is that we need to choose faith. "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief," said the father of an ailing child (Mark 9:24), and the Lord responded accordingly. As we choose faith, our doubt will be replaced by more faith. 

In my early 20's, when I wrote the sort of whimsical poem at the top of this post, I was just beginning to comprehend this great truth about faith. My experiences since that time have taught me that faith is indeed a choice, not a feeling that descends upon us capriciously or by genetic design, but a very deliberately made choice. True, we are all at different points in our walk of faith, but what's important (and I liked being reminded of this by Elder Andersen) is that every one of us "knows enough" to want to know more. No matter how meager our reservoir of faith might feel, faith is more than a feeling. It is a decision, and we can decide to believe and decide to believe and decide to believe again. The Lord will do the rest.

And that's what "Keeping the Faith" is all about.


Heather Anderson said...

I really like your poem and I liked this talk too.

NBlake said...

The conference talks were really good this time, weren't they?

Sue said...

Yep, I especially loved Elder Holland's.

Nikki Nichols said...

I was so uplifted by conference as well. I was buoyed by the faith of those men and strengthened more to realize my potential. I loved that talk and it made me think of one of my favorite scriptures in 1 Nephi where the angel asks Nephi if he knows the condescension of God and he answers that he knows the God loves his children, "nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things". Even Nephi didn't know everything, but his faith in the Lord helped him through soo much. I am trying to remember that as Ryan and I start out in life and have challenges, some small, some bigger. Thanks for helping me realize through your poem and thoughts that it takes time and we can choose to have Faith. You are such a great example too!

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

Clicked over from Mormon Mommy Blogs to check out another "saucy mom", I hope that's okay. I love your poem and the message.

Heather Anderson said...

Yes, George Michael had it right.

Michal said...

what a beautiful poem. and beautiful sentiments on faith. i loved that talk and have found that my mothering has really improved in the past few years as i have really tried to exercise more faith in that calling. it's amazing how faith can cast away neuroses.

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