I recently was confronted by a sudden onset of real cognitive dissonance in thinking about the gospel and the plan of salvation. The level of confusion and frustration was not one I think I’d ever experienced before. My actions haven’t always been in-line with what I’d always been taught, I’ve had long stretches where I wasn’t really worried about any of it making sense and largely just ignored it. But I’m not sure I’d ever really had such a hard time seeing how something I thought I believed really made sense. I wondered if I even wanted to believe in a system and in a God the way I’d been hearing both described. I was worried about where my mind was going and holding on to my faith. I didn’t know how to align my experiences with what seem to be prevailing perspectives.
I’ve been lucky enough to have experiences that have convinced me, in no uncertain terms, that I don’t know everything, and that I am seriously better off if things go the way God wants than the way I plan them. My best efforts to figure everything out are going to be limited. In order to be comforted by that rather than frustrated or worried, I have to believe that God is there and He loves me, and if I do my part to stay connected to Him, things will work out. I have to believe it and my experiences have reinforced that belief.
What that requires, for me, is to let go of things that don’t make sense to me, and know that more answers will come. Sometimes that requires hoping and believing that answers we think we have, all the things we think we have figured out, the details, especially of life after death, may actually be beyond our understanding or ability to interpret. I believe that God loves me and I know I’m happier when I am staying close to Him. To prevent confusion and cognitive dissonance from causing me to doubt that belief, and the experiences that support it, I have to believe that we don’t have as many answers as we believe we have, even that we might have a few things wrong. I have to be careful about assuming which things we have wrong, but continue to rely on my belief in a loving God, and continue to seek out experiences where I feel His love.
I feel the power of, and want to continue to echo this prayer from a hymn (‘As I Search the Holy Scriptures’).
May my heart be blessed with wisdom, and may knowledge fill my mind
Let me be receptive to knowledge but not limited, distracted, or dissuaded by it. Let me remember the wisdom I’ve gained from what I’ve felt and experienced. Let both my mind and heart be open to knowledge and wisdom, but if the knowledge isn’t lining up for me, let me rely on and be motivated by the wisdom I feel in my heart.