Monday, September 28, 2015

Kid's Stories

Mister Twister's song he made up this week:

A quesadilla could talk.
A quesadilla could talk.
I couldn't believe it
so I punched it in the guts.

This is sung to the tune of Hi Ho the Dairy-o

This is his second version

A quesadilla could talk.
A quesadilla could talk.
I couldn't believe it
so I socked it in the block.

He is so playful and fun.  We enjoy him so much.

Miss R's experience to remember for the week:

There was some drama in the first grade this week.  On the playground the boys were chasing the girls.  They were pulling their arms and trapping them.  Rachel got mad because she thought they were playing too rough.  So, she told the boys, "Stop! You could break their arm and if it breaks it all the way to their back it could break the spinal cord and they wouldn't be able to walk."  Somedays she tells us she wants to be a doctor and other days she wants to be a mother.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Women In the Scriptures

Dear Sherrie – I promised you that I was going to reply to the comment you left on my blog with an additional posting. There was too much that I wanted to say. I couldn't seem to condense my thoughts into a brief comment.

You shared with me the ninth article of faith and your belief that God will continue to reveal things. I share that belief with you. I recently wrote a post on the ninth article of faith. In that post I tried to express that I think the way we can be ready for new revelation and stay faithful to the old  is to have our minds and hearts filled with things God is currently revealing and comforted by things that he revealed in days that are past. I think it is vital that we feel the Holy Ghost every day.

I also wanted to share some thoughts that I had about your comment about women and the Scriptures. You shared your perspective that women have been "whitewashed from the Scriptures." I wasn't exactly sure what you meant by the term whitewashed. You may feel that women’s  stories were once there, but have been removed by people who didn't want them there. Or you may feel simply disappointed that there aren't more stories of the lives of women that we can feast upon.

There was a time in my life that I too was disturbed by the fact that there were so few stories of women in the Scriptures. At this time I had a conversation with a family member that helped me. I shared my concern with him and then he asked me some questions that helped me to further understand myself. He asked, "Do you feel the Holy Ghost when you read the Scriptures and get revelation for your life?" I responded that I did. Then he asked, "Do you feel that you can apply the Scriptures to your life regardless of the gender of the person in the stories or who is teaching the doctrines?"  I responded that I did. Then he asked, "Why do you care about how many stories are about men then?"

As I thought about that question I realized it was because I wondered if God loved women as much as men if they were not equally represented in the Scriptures. Because we weren’t equally represented, I wondered if He really considered us equal.  That was my true concern. I got a lot out of the Scriptures. Plenty. My real concern wasn't about the amount of airtime women got in the Scriptures. My question was did God see me as equally important as a man and of equal value.

That little conversation was a piece of  the revelation that I earnestly yearned for.

The interesting thing to me is that I  regard the Scriptures very differently in my life now than I did then. I don't feel like the Scriptures are whitewashed of women.  I can't get away from reading about women. I just finished reading the writings of Isaiah. It seemed that every chapter had references to women, counsel specific to women, feminine imagery, and validation for the typical life of a woman.

Before studying the writings of Isaiah I was reading The New Testament record of the apostles establishing the Church after Jesus Christ's atonement. I saw so many pieces that I had never seen before about the role of women within that church. I understood Paul's writings in a way that I had never before. Again it seemed like every chapter I was learning more about women.

In the past year I've done a lot of topical study about Adam and Eve and the choices made in the garden of Eden. I learned so much about women’s essential role in God’s plan.

I am so deeply grateful to be able to feel the spirit as I read the Scriptures and I treasure the revelation I receive through the gentle teaching of the Holy Ghost. So, I don't want to sound ungrateful, but sometimes I think, "Enough about the women already. I'm done thinking about that." Apparently, I am not. I still have much more to learn, and for some reason God wants to teach me about it.

Do I find women in the Scriptures because I am seeing references I never saw before? Is it because I  have studied more and know the scriptures better?  Or am I finding them because God is speaking to me about women as I read scriptures? Is it because the scriptures are living and reading them can be a conversation with God about the subjects He wishes to teach us about?  Probably all these answers are true.

I simply wanted to share my perspective and how it has changed over the years.  I love you, Sherrie.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Our Questions and Beliefs That We Put on our Shelves

Camilla Kimball once said,  “I’ve always had an inquiring mind. I’m not satisfied just to accept things. I like to follow through and study things out. I learned early to put aside those gospel questions that I couldn’t answer. I had a shelf of things I didn’t understand, but as I’ve grown older and studied and prayed and thought about each problem, one by one I’ve been able to better understand them.”
She twinkles, “I still have some questions on that shelf, but I’ve come to understand so many other things in my life that I’m willing to bide my time for the rest of the answers.” (
My brother in law once pointed out to me that he liked to use that shelf analogy for the 9th article of faith.

"We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

There are three things in that verse that we believe in.  Jared likes to think of them as three shelves in our mind. 

The first shelf is filled with our belief in all that God has revealed.  Imagine it, a shelf lined with these pots of testimony.  Each canister is labeled with a truth that you have come to have a testimony of--the atonement, the truth of The Book of Mormon, the goodness of God and His great love for us as our Father.

Upon that shelf is balanced another shelf.  That shelf is full of containers that represent belief in all that He does now reveal. That shelf is also full, but it is full with all that God is revealing to you today. There is a container with the the truths that you learned in your scripture study that morning, another for the spirit that you felt for when you explained your believes with your friend not of your faith.  There also canisters filled with the peace that you felt when you repented today, the assurance of truths that you pondered as you were going about the business of your life, and another for the growing testimony that came as a result of chipping away at your responsibilities from Church, and reaching out in love and service to your fellowman.  

  And upon that second shelf is balanced the third shelf.  It is filled with containers representing questions that we have about those things that God will yet reveal.  That can be mysteries of the Kingdom of God, or things that can just be mysteries to us, while those around us seem to understand.  It is a part of life to have this shelf.  It is not wrong or bad.

Problems arise when the first and second shelves are sparse,  while we spend our time and efforts with what is on the third shelf.  Excessive weight or energy spent on this shelf can topple all three shelves.  Sometimes when we are in this state we are more desirous to follow the Facebook buzz about  current religious issues rather than studying General Conference.  We might be more interested in other's writings and opinions about the prophets, rather than reading the words of the prophets themselves. We pour over comments left on internet pages, but no longer pour over our scriptures. Our problem isn't that we don't have answers, it is that we don't have faith.

I don't think answers to Gospel questions don't  come in the scenario I described.  I have had times when I had  questions that seemed to halt my spiritual progress. Sometimes those questions have been doctrinal and other times they have just been confusion about why God would allow me to go through a particularly difficult experience.  Answers have seemed to come to me as I have done the following: 

 1. Been honest about the fact that I have a question. 
2. Asked my question to God. 
3. Spent some time studying and thinking about it. 
4. Spent the majority of my time doing the things that God has asked me to do.  Serve in my family, in my church callings, and to reach out in love to those around me.

We can not let the presence of our Gospel questions hijack all of the doctrine we can be learning, and the rich spiritual experiences we can be having. I think the bottom line is that every day we do all that we can to feel the Holy Ghost that day.  While some of that time is spent alone in private study and contemplation, much of it is spent as we do the work of our day.  The Lord taught the doctrine that if we lose our life, then we would find it (Matthew 10:39).  God seems to be more willing, or maybe more able to give us or spiritual answers when our lives are filled with service.  The answers come gently,  distilling upon our souls as gently and imperceptibly as  the dews from heaven.  And the best news is that the process was lovely.  It was filled with giving love to others, lifting those around us, filling the Spirit in our scripture study, and privately promising to God our faith and trust in Him.  

From Elder Cook's Oct. 2012 conference address, "Can Ye Feel So Now?"

"In one of the most profound verses in all of scripture, Alma proclaims, 'If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?'
It is not surprising that some in the Church believe they can’t answer Alma’s question with a resounding yes. They do not 'feel so now.' They feel they are in a spiritual drought. Others are angry, hurt, or disillusioned. If these descriptions apply to you,7 it is important to evaluate why you cannot “feel so now.”
Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.
Immersion in the scriptures is essential for spiritual nourishment.8 The word of God inspires commitment and acts as a healing balm for hurt feelings, anger, or disillusionment.9 When our commitment is diminished for any reason, part of the solution is repentance.10"

On Being Pruned

"Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."  John 15:2
God has made no secret of His intent to prune us--to have us suffer in the short term, that we might be more productive in the long term. 
Regardless of his stated intent, I have been surprised by these chastening experiences.  I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that my attempts to live a holy, consecrated life merited the reward of living  a happy life. 
As I scratched my head in confusion with why God would allow or even desire for me to have such painful experiences, it was suggested to me that we are given trials so that we can have compassion for others in their suffering.
I was grasping for a strong answer that I could hold on to, that I might steady myself.  And that explanation didn't feel strong.  It felt very flimsy.  I imagined myself, after years of suffering, having a 10 minute conversation with someone going through similar difficulties.  In that conversation I would have that promised compassion that came at the price of having gone through similar trials.  I thought to myself, "No, thank you.  I'll fake having the compassion instead."  My heartache seemed to be such an exquisitely high price to pay for compassion for  the suffering of others.  And I was dubious that my imagined, future suffering friend would notice or even care significantly about my increase in compassion to merit such a price. 
I don't feel this way anymore.
I had an exquisite day yesterday.  I felt joy.  I believe that joy came from an increase in compassion.  Maybe the joyful life that is a reward of righteousness comes more from the attributes we acquire, rather than the circumstances we find ourselves in.  
My service was so simple. I rearranged my morning to be able to go to the park with Master I before his school to play basketball with him.  I cleaned my house the rest of the morning.  I tried to make it fun for Twister by chasing him with the vacuum, helping him to earn quarters by doing jobs with me, and letting him play with his toys as long as his attention would permit.  We actually had quite a fun morning.  We tried to help a girl that had just moved here from New Jersey to make friend and fit in by having a party for her at the pool.  Then we gathered all the 11 year old boys to play basketball to burn of the stress of the first week of middle school with some intense exercise and wholesome fun with their friends.
What a simple day, what a joyful day. To look on others, contemplate their troubles, to have our hearts break for them, to search our minds with what we might do to help, and then to reach out in our very simple way to show love... this is compassion.  This is what I paid such a high price for.  And it was worth it.With an increase in compassion, I increase in my ability to experience the joyful, abundant life. 
I am learning that the amount of joy we feel in this life is directly proportionate to the amount of love we feel for others. And so we can find a  joy that no man  can take  from us.
It is experiences like these that make me trust God more and trust myself less.  Whenever I scratch my head or raise my eyebrow, at something the Lord taught, in time I learn He really was right.  I have had this experience enough times that I recognize the pattern.  I believe that God will eventually answer my other questions that I have in the same way He has in the past.  This is faith.
 John 15:8 "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

Friday, August 7, 2015

Eve's Mandate to Mother

The first woman on the Earth was given a name signifying that she was the "mother of all living" Genesis 3:20. What does that teach us?   Was it a hint of her past premortal contribution or of her divine destiny to bring life to the Earth?   Was that title teaching that all living things would come forth, at least in part, from her creative contribution and sanctified sacrifice? Did it mean that all that continued to have life would be a result of her nurturing way? When Adam called his his wife "the mother of all living," was he recognizing that without her life-giving influence he would die, not to mention all of civilization?

I sincerely don't know the answer to my musings. But, I sense that  there was something grand and sweeping in that declaration that Eve was "the mother of all living."  

Not only was Eve's name prophetic of the life she would lead, the consequences given to her in the Garden were indicative that motherhood would be her sacred responsibility and role. The scriptures teach that By her great sacrifice would she bring forth children.  

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children."  (Genesis 3:16)

 I suspect part of that  there are some sorrows that last longer than labor, and that no epidural can ease. Those sorrows can come even after a child has left the home and all that is left for the mother to do is to hope and pray; to love and to sorrow. These sorrows, inherent to motherhood, are part of the refining role God gave to us in Eden. Perhaps the joys and sorrows of motherhood can be felt by all women who embrace who God intended them to become, regardless of their situation in life. 

I have a friend who was promised in a blessing that she would be a mother in Israel. Yet, it appears she will not bare children in this life. This has led her to wonder that there might be a more expansive meaning than she originally thought. Maybe it was not so much a prophesy  of her reproductive capability as it was a description of the life she would lead. 

She loved and believed in the goodness of her husband, almost to a fault. While all others around her gave up on him, with what can be described only as a mother's love, she continued to hope and believe that he was better than the mistakes he had made. 

Her experiences in her marriage drove her to fight those influences that had so harmed her and help her fellow travelers that had been similarly wounded in life's journey.  

Teaching was her profession.  As one of her students, I can say that she not only encouraged me intellectually, she nurtured my confidence in myself as well.

I knew her when her life was busy teaching and  writing a dissertation.  But, she still found time to be a Nursery Leader and to love those children in her no nonsense sort of way. After she served in that calling that is so typically shunned, she became the young women's president. I was not able to see her serve in that calling, but I heard her speak of those young women with such understanding, such love, and such desire to protect them that I am sure that those girls were similarly blessed by her service. 

When it became evident that she would not have the blessing of being able to spend her life devoted to raising her own children, she sought to live next to her parents so that she could spend her life caring for them. What more apt description of this woman can there be other than a mother to all living? 

Sherri Dew taught, "Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve “the mother of all living” 3 —and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, 4righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. 5 Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us."

“Motherhood is more than bearing children. … It is the essence of who we are as women.”

 When my sister Emily looks at pictures of herself as a missionary  in France and reflects on the great love she had for those she taught and the great sacrifice she was willing to pay to help them, she says that she sees the face of a mother.

Margaret Thatcher was a leader of a nation, incredibly iron willed and she has been described as a mother to that nation.  

Ann Sullivan, teacher of Helen Keller, shared her feelings about her profession in words that sound like that of a mother,  “For years I have know the teacher’s one supreme reward, that of seeing the child she has taught grow into a living force in the world.”

She also said, “I know that the education of this child will be the distinguishing event of my life, if I have the brains and perseverance to accomplish it.”
(Helen’s Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller’s Teacher by Marfie Ferguson Delano).

I have a friend that devoted her life to both being a part-time Doctor and a mother.  Her perspective on life was lived seamlesly with one purpose- to love and nurture, to heal and facilitate progress, as a mother.  She did this for her children and her patients.

Nancy Grace Roman is a noted astrophysicist and was one of the first female executives at NASA. The pinnacle of her career was her work in the creation of the Hubble Telescope. She earned the title "Mother of the Hubble" for her creative contribution to that scientific feat.

Florence Nightingale is known as the mother of nursing.

These are examples of strong, vibrant women who contributed much to society.  If we tried to search for one word to describe their attributes, their aim, and their accomplishments-- the word could be MOTHER.

A most beloved leader from my youth went through some very trying experiences in the years when her nest was emptying out.  Her husband lost his faith and somewhere in that process, lost his admiration for who she was and what she had given her life to.  Undergoing such a seismic blow to her family structure and reality, she sought professional counseling.  I was so disappointed to hear some of the counsel the therapist gave to help my cherished leader.  She would say things to her like, "There you go again. You have to be everyone’s mother."  The therapist would demean the choices that my friend made to care for her sisters, parents, and others around her.  She criticized the way she was always looking towards everyone else’s needs.  This therapist used the word “mother” and the desire to be a mother to others in a derogatory way.  It was a bad thing to be.  To use such a holy word, then to make it into a negative swear word, I think that is blasphemy. 

I was not only sad that this therapist desecrated the word mother, I was sad because she criticized the great gift that woman gave to me. The truth is that I became who I am today much because of what this woman did for me. She was one of my leaders in my youth. The Gospel was the center of her life and permeated everything that she did. She was my early morning seminary teacher Monday through Friday. She formed a youth chorus that taught to to worship through singing. We met every Sunday evening to practice. Because she was my best friend's mother, I spent nearly every weekend at her house. When I contemplate the amount of food I ate at her home, I am ashamed. Many of the dishes I make for my own family are foods that I ate in her home. She was always conscious of my needs and frequently bought me a new outfit. Of all that she gave me, I think most of all I am grateful that she loved me and saw the good in me. I felt that love constantly. What other word could be used to explain what she gave me, who she was to me, other than mother?

When I am my truest self, I am the mother of all living.  I am a mother to children in primary, to my parents,  to my fellow sisters in Relief Society, preparing meals for someone that has just had a baby or another who lost a family member.

Sherri Dew taught the expansive meaning of what it means to be a mother in these words, “Loving and leading—these words summarize not only the all-consuming work of the Father and the Son, but the essence of our labor, for our work is to help the Lord with His work.”

Being a mother is not just the highest, noblest calling. It is the highest gift we can receive--the gift of Eternal Life.

In the Broadway musical Les Miserables, the character Jean Valjean reflects on his identity asking, "Who am I?" After his considerations he determines that he must never forget his roots and thunders the answer that he was once the prisoner known as 24601. When I consider my past, who I really am, and who I am destined to become, I want to thunder my own answer: I am a mother!

When Man Was Given the Commandment To Preside

In recent years the movement to “ordain women” has caused us to reflect on the origin and the rightness of a man presiding.   This movement presupposes that the practice of only men holding the priesthood is based on cultural traditions rather than on doctrinal truth.  In recent generations, many cultural ideas about women have been triumphantly overturned in our society such as: women were not as capable as men to hold certain positions in the workforce or that women weren’t as intelligent as men and should not vote, etc.  Those cultural ideas have been  disproven and now as some feminists look to the next victory to win they see a church with male leadership.  They view their current religious experience through that lens of cultural gender paradigms.  Their conclusion is that the doctrine that men are given the priesthood and women are not is a mistake, an antiquated teaching that needs updating.  They cite other instances where changes have been made--women praying in church or speaking in general conference.  While I empathize with the pain of wondering if you are valued less than a man, I do not believe that it is a cultural mistake that men hold the priesthood  because The Garden of Eden predates culture and it is there that we find the origin of “presiding”.

The Fall

Before culture existed, before man’s faulty ideas were presented as truth, God himself gave man the mandate to preside. President Hunter references the Garden of Eden as the time when the divine appointment was given to men. After Adam and Eve partook of the fruit they were given consequences.  As Latter-day Saints, we are unique in our belief that the fall was a part of God’s great plan.  The Fall was a step down, but also a step forward. Because we understand the Fall to be a good thing, we understand that the consequences given as a result were not a vengeful God trying to exact a punishment to fit the crime, but rather a loving Father who gave us exactly what we would need in order to overcome the effects of the Fall and return to His presence.  Interestingly, He gave gender specific consequences.
Speaking to Eve He said, Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee (Moses 4:22).”
To Adam he said, “Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.  Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.  By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return (Moses 4:24-25).”
In the New Testament Paul teaches about the fall saying that there would be something exalting for a women in facing the challenges that were unique to her. “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”  “Saved” in this context means saved from her transgression, exalted, not saved in a sense of surviving the childbearing process.  While some women do not get the opportunity to bear children in this life, I believe in the truth explained by Sherri Dew that motherhood is the essence of who we are as women regardless of whether or not we have our own children.  Seeking and yearning for the opportunity, and embracing this God given responsibility to be a “mother” is woman’s greatest opportunity to develop the God-like qualities that this consequence intended. I feel that motherhood has been a very refining and ennobling experience for me and I rejoice that I can be “saved in childbearing.”  When I am my truest, best self the word I would use to describe myself in relation to my fellow man is mother.
I cannot speak for a man and how exalting the Fall’s consequence was for Adam and his posterity, but as I have seen family, friends, and church members become fathers as well as leaders of wards and stakes I have seen men develop those same God-like qualities that motherhood brings out in women.   I have dad and I’ve watched him.  When I reflect on who I saw him become as a father of 10 kids or presiding over a ward or a stake, I believe man needed that presiding role in order for him to become who God wanted him to be.  I believe that there was something exalting and ennobling about the consequences of the Fall for him just as there was for Eve.

Doctrinally speaking, we see that Adam and Eve experienced a fall and were given consequences as a result.  As Latter-day Saints we believe the Fall was good and so the consequences would be for our benefit as well as Adam’s and Eve’s.  While what happened in the Garden of Eden cannot be influenced by culture, our interpretation of these scriptures can and has been.  As we grow in understanding, we begin  to examine the words there and contemplate what they mean.

The consequences of the fall were given to us as a way for us to become who we are intended to become.  The thorns and the weeds aren’t to hurt or just annoy us.  There is something essential to us having them there for us to learn what we need to learn.  Men need to be the leaders of their families.  We need to nurture them along in this responsibility.  

Receiving answers to gospel questions

I read a lot when I had the luxury of time as a teenager.  In an effort to stay way from the filth of teenage romance novels, I turned to church fiction books.  In many of the historical fiction books that I read I began to contemplate and feel very uncomfortable with the idea of polygamy.  Perhaps because of my youth, I was uninhibited by social restraints.  Every seminary teacher, Young Women’s leader, Sunday School teacher, and parent in my realm was aware of my concerns.  I was looking more to argue and express my hurt, than get answers.  I prayed about it, but my prayers were telling God why I disagreed with Him.  I was hurt for the women that lived polygamy, and feared what it said about a God that would ask women to live this law.  At the heart of my questions where how a God could both love me and be equally fair to both men and women and have this law.  I regret to say that I terrorized my teachers with my belligerent questioning.  I was informed by one adult that I was right and that I could start praying to Heavenly Mother and giving blessings to children.  This time was a dark time of sadness for me.  But it didn’t last, light came.
My questions were only resolved many months later as  I decided to trust God again.  I tired from feeling estranged from Him.  In the very immature language of a 17 year old I told Him in prayer, “If you want me to be me to be barefoot and pregnant (paradoxically, there would be nothing more wonderful to me than this)  and beat by my husband (yeah, I never wanted that and luckily it never happened), then that is what I want too.  Because I know that thou lovest me and I trust thee more than I trust myself. But, wilt thou teach me, in thy time, about these principles.  I do not understand them and I want to.”  What relief that prayer brought! I still remember the great peace I felt.  Interestingly that peace didn’t come with all the answers, it came with faith.   Many answers have come since then.  This paper contains part of them.  When the answers have come sometimes I turn heavenward and I gratefully ask, “What was that for? What did I do to deserve that?”   The answer comes in the image of a seventeen year old girl, on her knees in her prayer, offering up her heart, in a very inarticulate prayer.
A major turning point for me in deciding to change my hurt, oppositional stance  with God to a trusting, submissive one was remembering lessons from my childhood.  My mom died of leukemia when I was 6.  I grieved much longer than anyone around me ever realized .  Yet somehow out of that mess I saw God make something beautiful.  I saw Him make me and my siblings into the people we became as a result of that trial.  Even as an aching teenager I recognized that if I had the power to change my life and life and somehow magically not have my mother die, I wouldn’t do it.  I think it is interesting that the very first requirement in Moroni’s challenge is to “Remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.”
 Questions come.  They are not a sign of unrighteousness.  As Elder Holland said in speaking of Lehi’s dream, “It is imperative to note that this mist of darkness descends on all the travelers—the faithful and the determined ones (the elect, we might even say) as well as the weaker and ungrounded ones. The principal point of the story is that the successful travelers resist all distractions, including the lure of forbidden paths and jeering taunts from the vain and proud who have taken those paths.”  Many talks have been given in conference to comfort those with questions,  guide them, and to reassure them that having doubts and questions does not make you evil.  
What defines our righteousness is how we respond when we are confronted with questions.  I find it interesting to contrast the questions that Nephi had to the questions that his less faithful older brothers had in response the the vision of the Tree of Life that their father Lehi presented to them.  Their questions were exactly the same. “What meaneth the tree which he saw? “What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?” “What meaneth the river of water which our father saw?”  The great difference between Nephi and his brothers were how they approached God when the questions came.  Laman and Lemuel, not understanding the dream of their father, disputed with each other in an effort to figure it out.  When Nephi asked them if they had inquired of the Lord, they responded, “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.”  Somehow they felt that the blame of the lack of revelations to them was the Lord’s.  Nephi wanted a deeper understanding of the dream.  His attitude was in stark contrast to his brothers as is seen in his words, “I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord.”  The difference was not the presence of questions, it was the presence of faith.

I believe that we can have answers to difficult Gospel questions.  But that the very most essential first step is if we have faith in God and in his prophets.  Do we believe as Isaiah taught of God? “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  
Do we follow the proverb’s counsel?  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  It has been my experience that this deep humility, love and trust in the Lord proceed answers to questions, but that answers come!
Perhaps the very best illustration I have ever seen of the deep humility and trust in God that we must have in the face of difficult questions comes from the life of Brother Johnson. He was a pastor who desperately wanted to enjoy the blessing of Church membership, but was denied that blessing because he was black.  When asked if he ever got mad at God he laughed at such a ludicrous thought and responded that no, God was too good to him to ever get mad at Him.  Their stories are so inspiring it is worth watching them share their faith and trust in their own words. We can have this kind of faith and humility. We must have it.

I believe that getting the answers to our questions doesn’t resolve our concerns.  Only faith resolves the concern.  Answers can and will come, but we must first have the experience of submitting yourself to God, trusting him, having faith in Him.

Unfortunately, the questions I faced as a teenager were not the last Gospel questions that I have grappled with.  But, I hope that they were the last questions that I will ever face where my faith, trust, and allegiance to God were not firmly planted.

When question come to me now, I hear the scriptural question in my mind, "Will ye also turn away?" And my answer to him is, "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."