Monday, October 3, 2016
Finding My Religious Heritage
I went to BYU's education week on Tuesday this year. Only a week or so after my miscarriage, I was looking for new direction and peace in my life. Almost at once, I recognized a theme. Press Forward. I felt it sinking into my heart, but my mind still questioned how. How could I press forward? What was it that God wanted me to do with my time, with my life, with this unexpected change in my plan? My second class was with Scott Anderson, one of my favorite speakers. The part of his message that stuck with me was a promise that I would learn what I needed to do at the devotional address by Elder Holland.
I sought out a seat as close to Elder Holland as I could get. It was directly behind him, and I was only ten rows or so back. This was close! I could see the hairs on the back of his head! Hope burned inside me. Here. Here I would find my answer to how I was to press on and press forward.
His talk, Bound by Loving Ties, was about religious ties and their threads through our lives and our history. It was a powerful talk. But what did religious freedom have to do with losing a baby? The one section that stuck out to me most was a list of books he'd read while at BYU. Some I had read, but most I had not. I made a mental note that I should one day read those books.
And then it was over. I left the Marriott Center and made my way back to campus. I attended other classes, met other people, learned other things. I wrote notes down, came home, and left them on my nightstand.
In the last weeks, I've felt an almost Divine pull to learn more about social media, how to post powerful, sincere, and spiritual insights, and how to become part of putting a little good back into the world. One particularly frustrating day, I pulled out that notebook and reread over some of my notes. There, standing out on the page, was Scott Anderson's promise.
What was it that I was supposed to do? I'd missed it in Elder Holland's talk, hadn't I? I pulled up the talk to reread it. When I got to the part that had touch my mind before, the list of books he'd read, I realized what God wanted me to do.
He wanted me to undertake a journey, my own path of discovery and awakening. He wanted me to find my religious heritage, the heritage that Elder Holland spoke of with so much love. And He wanted me to share my journey on social media.
So many of the great writers of the world were deeply spiritual men and women. We, in our supposedly "enlightened" times, often diminish their religious faith as a product of their culture and an attempt to explain the stuff science had not yet discovered; a weakness in their otherwise intelligent minds and lives.
But what if their faith wasn't just a product of cultural norms and superstitions? What if it was the very thing that made them great? What if I read those books with the intention of finding the religious heritage they left in them? Could faith like their's change me for better somehow?
I'm a fraction of the way through the first book on Elder Holland's list, Pilgrim's Progress. Written in the 1600's, this book has some how lasted through centuries of changing ideals, governments, and social structures. Maybe there is something in there I should know, something bigger, more profound, or truer than anything I can find on my Facebook feed, than any scientist can prove, than all the voices around me can shout.
What will I find on my search for my religious heritage?
Answers, it seems. For in the beginning of Pilgrim's Progress, I found the quote I posted above. My road as I press forward may be hard, but, oh, how worth it to ascend the difficult way to find it was God's way, God's will, and God's plan for me.