I will also warn you, this post is decently longer than most of my posts. I wanted to start with some disclaimers.
- I did not receive an answer right away
- It was not without quite a bit of effort on my part
- This question was not casual or half hearted.
My question was kind of hard to pin point at first. I had grown up all my life in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I knew how to pray, I went to church most every Sunday, I would read my scriptures sometimes, and I even went to most of my church activities without much complaint.
Taking a step back and thinking about this time in my life, I realized that I really didn't care to know if God was real. That is a harsh statement. I don't like to write it, but it's true. I was pretty content with my life, and I really didn't have a burning desire to know God existed. Everyone had told me that He did for so long, and so I just assumed they were right. Either way, it hadn't affected my life and so far things were fine.
Like most times in our lives, we don't really appreciate something until we really need it. It is kind of like when a friend gives us advice, but at the time we disagree, or we think that we have a better solution, so we don't really pay it any heed. Later when things unravel and we desperately need that advice, then we are all ears.
This little phenomenon demonstrates a principle I learned in one of my sociology classes:
Telling isn't teaching, and people learn when they are ready, not when we are ready for them to learn.
So basically, at this point, I didn't even realize I had a question of the soul, much less, know how to go about answering it.
I continued on with my life. I made good and bad choices. I made friends with some people who were not very good influences, and other things in my life started to all come to a head. Life at home got harder, and suddenly all these things that had previously been just fine, all came crashing down. I was really, truly, and totally alone.
My first response was actually anger. I couldn't understand why everything had been just fine, and then all the sudden it was just awful. I did all of things you should not do. I stopped saying my prayers, I stopped doing scripture study, I found really good excuses not to go to church activities, and most of all inside I felt rotten and angry all the time.
In short I really didn't like myself much, and things continued to spiral out of my control.
Well there came a point where I eventually hit rock bottom, and I could only go up. I am not saying you always have to hit rock bottom, there are people who can see when they are starting to spiral downwards and can start to turn it around before it gets very bad. I am just saying for me, it took that long before I made a decision.
The decision I finally made was that I needed to know If God was really there for me. My logic and reasoning told me that if God was really there, and He really cared, none of this would have happened in the first place. However that reasoning didn't make me feel better and it for sure didn't change my situation.
Unsurprisingly, I didn't feel better, and I still didn't feel like God was there or listening. So I decided that I was going to do the things that I had been taught all my life to do. I had done them, but I hadn't put my heart into it. I won't lie. The first couple times I started reading the Book of Mormon, I fell asleep, I got bored, and I was confused. I had to completely relearn how to read scriptures, and more importantly WHY we read scriptures.
It didn't happen all at once. As I started these new patterns, and I was really trying to put my heart into it to know if He was really there, I sometimes got really discouraged. I had to keep trying and getting back on the horse, but I did start to see a difference.
I didn't right away know that God exists, but I started to like my self. I didn't have that awful pit in my stomach that I had for so long. I started to find real joy in my relationships with my family members and friends. I had friends who truly cared about my welfare and loved me.
As these little things started to add up, I started to find real joy in my life. It wasn't temporary, and it didn't come all at once. It took so much work, but I realized, and recognized that God's love for me was in the journey that He had sent me on to find Him. It was not always fun or easy, but it was absolutely worth it, and something that has stayed with me ever since.
It was not the first time I had a question, and it was not the last time either, but it taught me that God does answer prayers, that He sees the whole picture, and that He knows what is best for us and knows how to help us receive the joy we are all searching for.
I know God is real, and I know He loves me.
What is your question of the soul?