Today's thoughts are almost like a question/answer editorial.
This last week I got an email from my sweet cousin serving a mission in Russia.THE QUESTION:"My dearest Monica,As thou art so wise and fabulous, I just wanted to ask you a quick question: what kept you moving forward on your mission? All of your emails were so incredible and inspiring every week! What gave you faith? and hope? I'm not saying I am having terrible experiences every day, but I was just curious.You are such an inspiration to me, and you were so successful (I am not talking numbers successul). When and how did you find your faith, if that makes sense? I love you so much, and wish you the best!
THE ANSWER:Sister Davis,
I've been thinking all week as to how to respond to your email. You raise such a good question.
I feel like calling me wise is like looking at my life in a vacuum. You really can't discount how much I have struggled and how much "didn't work out"-- but it's kind of a phenomenon that a grand many of our faith-filled experiences occur due to some sort of perceived failure because of how human we are. But it's funny how in those instances we come to rely the fullest on the Savior and all of a sudden He does something quite merciful to take us off guard and onto our knees: He allows us to see things as they really are. He lets us know that this isn't all on our shoulders. That we don't have to be super-human in order to witness miracles. That not all miracles lead to baptisms or happily-ever-after's but under no circumstance should those miracles we discounted for the worth they truly hold. Because they happened. As Joseph Smith once said about the miracle of the first vision, "I knew it, and God knew it, and I could not deny it."
I first want to commend you for understanding that success is more than it seems. Success is such a word that gives the connotation of number. And at many times, that's exactly what it means. But you would be surprised how much I realized how successful my mission had been AFTER the fact, as I have seen the ripple-effect of smaller efforts. Again, in the Savior's mercy and with the aid of technology, I've been allowed to see what has happened since. And of course none of those things can be directly pinpointed at me and my specific effort to produce those miracles. But I glory in the merciful idea that my hours on the hot roads with sweat dripping down my neck were not spent in vain, regardless of how fruitless some days appeared.
There is never an effort wasted.
So your question. Faith. Where does it come from. Such a grand question. Do me a favor and take some of these scriptures to a personal study with real intent for Heavenly Father to shed some light:
1. Faith in the Bible Dictionary. All of it, thoroughly.
2. Ether 6:1-12 (Think Allegorically and Symbolically)
3. Watch Because of Him and He Lives - the Mormon messages, once each. Pray first.
I highly suggest reading about Paul in the New Testament as well as your study day times permit. It's in Acts.
Honestly Sara, if I were to boil it down to the stock pot broth of why I was able to gain faith is because I was looking.
There is scripture after scripture about seeking and knocking. I never realized exactly how true that was until just now as I wrote that last sentence.
Faith is one of my most favorite topics and the thing I came to understand possibly the best of all the other lessons I learned.
It is potentially the thing that so easily besets us the fastest. When the tide rolls in high and things aren't going as hunky-dory as one would hope, it seems to be the first thing cast off in the ship of confidence that Elder Holland always talks about is faith.
Sometimes we want miracles and success to be the measures of the reasoning for us to have hope. As the Bible Dictionary says, "Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith."
To me it seems that the most common recognition of a miracle is after the fact. Because we looked, we understood. Had we not looked with spiritual eyes we would have never seen the beauty of it nor understood the depth of it-- and most of all, we would not have found meaning in it as God's hand was apparent.
To do this, one must seek out the divine help to gain true "spiritual sight":
"The Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls” (Jacob 4:13; see also D&C 93:24).
My friend, "Forever Fan the Flame of Your Faith."