I am naturally a curious, questioning person who wants to know about everything. I have mounds of books around me, an attempt at osmosis a hope that somehow I will find the time to read them or else that somehow they will become imprinted upon my soul and mind. I have always been like this, always loved to be surrounded by books.
I'm the type of person who will catch fire with something and will pursue it until I have satisfied myself that I've studied enough about the subject to have a good grasp on what it is and then I try out the theory in my life to test how valid it is. There are quite a few things that I know through this method, for instance that fat (real fats like butter from grass fed cows, coconut oils, olive oil etc.) certainly will not make someone fat but that they are good for you and that your body craves them. I know that milk, raw milk, can be a good thing... but that It is mostly not for me.
Trial and error... one herb after the other... what works.
Then there is philosophy, I took an "Ethics and Values" class about 10 years ago. I became immersed in exploring philosophy, if this that and the other is true than that is true. I think that if a person doesn't have a good grasp on critical thinking that they could become quite confused... and I was, because I didn't know how to sift out one theory from the next.... all I knew is that most of it felt wrong, and perhaps intuition is better than reasoning in these matters. Or else I've not been raised to question, and questioning made me feel uncomfortable.
At about the same time I became engulfed in a consuming desire to really know whether or not the Gospel itself was true, and what about other religions, what were they about?
So I started to read everything that I could get my hands on, all the material that I could ever need really had been surrounding me for the whole of my life. That is everything about the Gospel, about other religions I took to the internet. I searched and questioned and thought over a lot of deep and weighty matters all at once and then found that my questions had run out, there were still a few that couldn't be answered through the texts that I had on hand and that bothered me, niggling little unanswered questions, right at the pit of my mind.
Yet they were not what I thought of as fundamental discrepancies in the course of theological verity, so I decided upon a course of cautious worship as I tried out theological theories in my life. I guess that's the way I've been ever since, somewhat of a skeptical believer.
There have been times though, where I have been confronted by pure and sweet peace. When I have felt with utmost certainty that what I have heard and read and have done was the right thing to do. When the Gospel has brought great peace to my life. Even miracles I'm not afraid to call such events and moments by the label of miracle. It is at times such as these that I regret most deeply that I am not a more constant personality, that I learn through fits of enthusiasm rather than from gleaning wisdom as I go. Well, I do find that I learn a bit more here and there as I go along... but I seriously think I need to develop better habits of study.
Thus the peace of the Gospel, to some it might be a torturous burden of guilt that they can't seem to shake because they can't seem to live up to the lofty ideals that the Gospel seems to impose. That it is a burden to believe, because belief requires commitment and commitment is hard when committing means reexamining your thoughts, your beliefs, your ideals... and yes often times it involves reevaluating things which we have accepted as simple habits that cannot be changed or things which we would rather not face.
I've felt all of that, yet I've come to a point where I know, I simply know that all I can do is live so that I am facing the truth and embracing it rather than turning from it. What is truth? That which we have thoroughly examined, which we have placed on the alter of disbelief or temporary acceptance and have found that if we violate or disregard that bit of truth than we will face consequences for which we will suffer... it is a natural thing. Therefore the Gospel is simply a guide which points out the natural and logical consequences for our actions, if it were false than we would be able to justify our actions against the untruth of it and find that nothing happened. So far I have found nothing which has been an unjustified law or untruth in the Gospel itself.
Then why the fits and starts, why is it so hard to simply live and believe and shout to the world that I know that these are truths?
It is for the same reason that I sometimes hesitate to tell people that such and such food that they are eating is not good for them, well they eat it right? and it hasn't killed them, right? True, simply and yet if it truly is something antithetical to health then the consequences will eventually show themselves, and I will have nothing to say except that I knew it wasn't good... but that I couldn't tell them that because they wouldn't listen, and what do I know anyway? Except that I've tried it, and it hurt me... and that everyone must find out the truth for themselves because I sure can't tell them what it is.
That brings me to the peace of the temple. There is concentrated peace there, the kind that settles into your soul up in the mountains or while sitting near a river, or a beautiful lake or the ocean. Going to the temple and emerging is like breathing a breath of fresh air. Personally I need to partake of that a bit more... I haven't been for far too long.