Apr 6, 2006

The role Faith plays

I have a friend who is going through a very difficult time right now, being that she just broke up with her boyfriend. Anyone who is reading this knows how painful breakups are. Anyway...over the past day and a half I've been doing what I can to comfort her, advise her, and console her. I truly believe that if she just lets him be for while he'll come back...if she wants him to. However, I'm afraid she might not be able to do this. Why? Her actions today have given me reason to actually believe some of the things her ex has accused her of.

I know she is hurt and angry, but in the midst of me trying to comfort her, she invalidated me, all of my past relationships, and the feelings that go along with those heartbreaks. In my attempt to make her feel better (but not sugar coat anything) I was told that I had no idea how she could feel...because her relationship was "real". In her eyes, my relationships were never valid, and therefore, I guess, she feels the feelings that went along with those relationships were invalid as well. She truly believes that I cannot understand how she feels. And if she continues to believe that...she will be left all alone. I'm the not the first friend whose feelings she has invalidated simply because she did not recognize the relationship as "valid". I hope I'm the last.

Anyway, this is cause for concern, yes...but she had to take it a step further. I pointed out that her invalidating me as a person hurt me, and I reminded her of something she said a few months back. Well, she retorted that she did in fact believe I am crazy; that my RELIGION only makes me unhappy and crazier...and that I see what I want to see and call it revelation.

This is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, I'm accused of such. Anyone who is religious...and especially any other Latter-Day Saints who truly adhere to their religion know what I'm talking about. Our religion is constantly criticized and ridiculed because we DO believe in modern prophets..we DO believe that God speaks to His children today just as He did back in the day...we DO believe that He directs the paths of His children if they are willing to heed to that still small voice and listen to the Spirit. For these and many other reasons, Mormons are ridiculed, and we are often told we aren't Christians.

I deal with this and expect it. Every person on this earth has the moral agency to choose for him or herself what they do with their life and what they believe. Beliefs should never be forced upon someone; and we should never think less of someone just because they don't believe what we do. But this is the age-old problem; the one that has caused the vast majority of wars in the past AND the present..the question of religion...of who is right and who is wrong. And it causes contention between family members and friends as well.

Why? Because no one wants to feel invalidated. And there are some of us who experience such joy and peace from what we believe, we truly want to share it with others. As for me, the knowledge and faith I have is who I am; it makes me and completes me in every way. To me it is truth....to me, listening to the Spirit is a sixth sense...and it's one I trust far more than any of my five other senses. While I do not expect everyone to accept this or believe it...I DO expect them to RESPECT it. And to be told that I'm crazy, because I trust that 6th sense..is like someone telling you that you are crazy because of something you see, or something you touch, or something you hear.

And to have a best friend tell you this makes your heart plummet. It negates every positive experience and feeling you ever had with that person. Negating a part of someone which is at the core of who they are is esentially telling them they don't measure up as a human being. No wonder it was so easy for her to invalidate my feelings.

I'm sorry, but while I expect such attitude from the outside world; and I face it almost on a day-to-day basis, I simply cannot tolerate such from a supposed best friend. When my ex-fiance said similar words to me, well, at that moment I fell out of love with him. I knew I could never spend eternity with someone who did not feel that what was at the core of my being was valid and real. And the same goes for friendships. I have friends of all different religions, I have friends who are agnostic and Atheist. Sure, I don't agree with some of the stuff they believe...or even most of it when it comes to Atheism, but I never think they are crazy. I never invalidate their humanity and the moral agency they have to choose such.

I have suffered from depression for over 10 years. My "friend" believes that my religion is at the cause of this. It is not. If it wasn't for my religion and my beliefs, I would have killed myself about 11 years ago. I was at that point. But I knew deep down, because of what I believe and what I know to be true, that doing such a thing would be cowardly and would NOT solve my problem...and not to mention it being one of the most selfish things anyone could do. No...I felt utterly alone...a I have many a time since....and the only thing that keeps my head up and keeps me going is my faith in God and my knowledge of His Son's Atonement. When I am at my lowest, that voice inside of me tells me to keep getting up; keep plugging along...because I know that when I feel my best is when I am living righteously, when I'm serving others, and when I'm grateful for everything that God has given me in this life.

Without my faith; without my creed, without my religion, I would be nothing. True religion is NOT a crutch; nor is it a way to make us "see" what we want to see. Who on earth would naturally want to live the life I choose to live?? My "natural" self would deny it. But that's the whole damn point. Do you have any idea what strength of character and perseverence it takes to stand up for one's beliefs..to hold firm and steadfast...to not give in even when one's own body is screaming for release?? But I believe in personal progression. Nothing worth learning and worth mastering was EVER easy...and the same goes for life. I believe we are on this earth to learn, to progress, and to become better people. Giving in to the natural man does NOT equate with progress. What we learn forms the people we become....and from making wrong decisions, yes we learn, but learning to make better and righteous decisions teaches us all the more.

No, living the way I do is NOT the easy way out. It's tough...yet, for some miraculous reason, it is truly what gives me the peace and joy I crave, the balance I need, and the support to help me endure to the end.

Call me what you want. But weak I never have been, and I never will be.

I wish my "friend" well. I do want her to be happy. But I cannot allow such people in my life. I need people who uplift and support me; not bring me down and invalidate me. Because I'm only human, and people DO affect one another.

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