by Randall Thacker
Recently, thirty LGBTQ Mormons met virtually to discuss the topic of “Increasing our Faith.” Participants included members of the Affirmation Family from Mexico, Chile, and the United States. Here are some of the experiences and suggestions shared by participants:
Practice gratitude every single day. Each morning or night take the time to write down or mentally or verbally recognize all the blessings of the day. These may include even just the basics of health, shelter, food, and air to breathe.
Remember that in James 5:1 it says that God will give wisdom to ALL of us – that includes LGBTQ people! It also says that God will give it “liberally” or in Spanish “abundantly.” It’s ours for the taking! Ask and ye shall receive!
Meditate regularly by finding that place and moment of time each day or week when you can fully detach yourself from the world and technology. Sit in the silence and just allow yourself to be present.
Spend time in creation – in nature. There’s so much majesty and beauty to behold, that its strength can fill us with spiritual peace.
Read from the best books words of wisdom, be it from the Bible, Book of Mormon, or other spiritual and secular readings that are uplifting and open our hearts and minds. “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
Look for truth wherever you may find it, even from “professed infidels”. Brigham Young said, “It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, … to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion (Discourses of Brigham Young, 248).
Take time for periods of discernment. When you feel uncertain of the path ahead of you, be patient with yourself, and pay close attention to what you are feeling and experiencing. Remember that discernment is “the ability to see things for what they REALLY are and not for what you WANT them to be.” Sometimes this requires us to be honest with ourselves about our relationships with other people, institutions, and ourselves.
Overcome the “longing” within you for the Church to fully accept you. We learn from Buddha and psychology that it is the “longing” that causes the suffering. Once we are able to let go of the desired outcome and focus instead on our faith as an independent relationship with the Divine and not the Church, we free ourselves from that suffering of “longing for acceptance.” The Church as an institution is one vehicle for increasing faith, but not the only one.
Listen to the “still small voice” as mentioned in 1 Kings 19:11-12. “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
Love others unconditionally and look for ways to serve others daily. When we lose ourselves in the service of others we see miracles happen all around us.
No matter what you may or may not believe, faith is not as much about belief as it is about attitude and strength of mind and heart to move our lives forward in the direction that leads to light and joy. We wish you the best in your journey to increase your faith!