This essay is part of an 8-minute memoir challenge hosted by Ann Dee Ellis.
I’m skipping Day 9: Write about the year you were 8 years old. I have no idea why, but that topic brings nothing to mind from my own life. But I did once write about my daughter’s 8th birthday and why Mormons are baptized at age 8. So it’s covered.
And now on to Day 10: Messes. Big messes. Small messes. Emotional messes. Physical messes. Spiritual messes. Relationship messes. Scheduling messes. Take your messy pick. 8 minutes. Let it be messy.
My spiritual life was simple for a long time. Routine, even. I believed what I had been taught, but not just because someone told me these things were true. I soaked in information as I grew up, and then I took it piece by piece to God, and said, “Is this true?”
And He often told me it was.
“But what about this part?” I’d ask later.
Sometimes He wouldn’t answer, and I knew it was time to work. I would pull out my scriptures and search for answers. And as I read about the topic that was on my mind, I would get new feelings — sometimes the feeling was simply peace; sometimes it was another question that led to another question until I had a handful of puzzle pieces to put together. Sometimes it was, “Get some more experience, and ask again.”
This worked well for me. It was private, individual, and understood by me.
And then social media came along.
I began to read about the spiritual journeys of other people. Sometimes their journeys were similar to mine. Sometimes they were so vastly different I wondered if we could possibly be pondering over the same questions.
People also shared their spiritual anguish. Walking a spiritual road is not as easy as popular media would have you believe. Those who dedicate their lives to the spiritual are committing to always be thirsty and searching. If you’re really digging in until you’re satisfied, you are the furthest thing from a blind follower — you are on a quest, and you always seek for more… more knowledge, more truth, more joy.
It can be messy.
As I’ve read the stories of those who open their hearts, my questions have grown deeper. And my own spirituality has grown messier.
My answers sometimes take longer as I puzzle over another’s interpretation of a principle. And sometimes my answers come rapid fire as I see my thoughts played out through another person’s words.
Sometimes I get too involved — too wrapped up in the spiritual quests of others — that I have to step completely back. When I step back, I avoid articles that share opinions on spiritual matters. Instead, I look for answers from the scriptures and prayer alone.
And then I come back stronger — knowing new truths, and understanding new concepts.
The internet, and all its voices, has opened my spiritual eyes while also shutting them. People’s experiences create a rich fabric for me to study, but they also pull me away from stitching my own fabric of strength.
Having access to so many experiences is a balance — A tug. A war. A thing of peace and beauty.
I love what others have done to strengthen me. I love the questions I have been confronted with. I even love that they make my spirituality messy.
Messy is often my favorite way to learn.
But I know that while elements of truth are found everywhere, the greatest truth is found by accessing the source. My messy spirituality has taught me to not fear the mess. But it has also taught me that if I hope to continue growing, I need to always focus on the truth:
“Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.”