I was seventeen when I can remember feeling very lonely for the first time. I was surrounded by family and so many wonderful friends of all walks of life. I was so blessed and had been given many opportunities and good things in my life. But even my closest childhood friends felt far away from where I was at that time. Without realizing it, a division was happening as I was approaching adulthood, and I felt it. Diversity is a great thing, but sometimes, it is nice to have someone next to you who understands what you are thinking without needing to use words.
After some time of feeling this way, when I was able to put my finger on it, I realized what I was longing for most was a friend who saw life as I did. My friends were all good people. But because of my religious practices, I felt set apart in the choices we made, things we wanted out of life, and the directions we were facing. I’m sure there were others I overlooked who were in my same predicament, but at the time, I just felt lonely. I was very aware that the reason I felt this way was because of my religion. In my loneliness, I found myself asking...what if none of this is true? What if it’s all a lie? What if all these sacrifices I am making turn out to be for nothing?
Those are haunting questions. But very real questions.
Doubt is an enemy to faith. Faith is believing in something you cannot see. My whole life, I had believed in doctrines taught to me that I accepted on Faith; believing without seeing. One would think that is foolishness. But some might also say that having faith in something is being able to rise above foolishness.
I was an avid journal writer, so it is easy for me to remember exactly how I felt then. I wrote in my journal nearly every day. Around this time period, I was reflecting on things in my life that were positive because of my faith in religion. One day I noted in my journal that even if someday I find out that it is all a lie, none of it true, I had decided it is still a good way to live my life; a life devoted to families, improving character, service, sacrifice and centered on Jesus Christ; a life of discipline, striving to make life better for those around me, of forgetting myself, and finding joy--not momentary happiness and excitement--but pure inner joy that is lasting. I chose faith over doubt and committed myself to live this life, believing that it was a good way to live.
Now it has been seventeen years since that time, and my faith has grown. I believe this way of life I am living is not just a good way to live. It can be both demanding and challenging. It can be lonely. Questions still arise and my faith is put to the test. But I believe this way of life is THE WAY to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
But I’ve also wondered this. When I was seventeen and doubting what was real, I also wrote this in my journal...“If this religion is what it says it is...what does that mean for all my friends who I love so much who do not know?” I expressed heartfelt yearning for them to believe as I did.
So now I ask you, my friends of all walks of life! Just as I questioned whether or not my religion was true or not, I ask you:
what if it is?
I believe that truth is Truth whether we choose to accept it or not. Truths that are conflicting cannot all be Truth. We can say the sky is purple all we want. We can say that this life has no meaning. We can say that there is no God in heaven. We can say there is no such thing as miracles, answers to prayer or revelation from above. But at the end of the day, Truth will remain.
Because I am a Mormon, I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is Truth. And I pray I will live my life according to that truth--no matter the loneliness, or whatever else falls in my lap--until the day I take my last breath.