Hope–A Breathtaking Virtue

god

Three Years ago, I KNEW that God existed.  Today, it’s a beautiful hope.  No longer do I KNOW with certainty.  Fortunately, I have some backup from the Apostle Paul who said, “Whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”

He followed that up with, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Over the past few years, I have been in the process of putting away childish things.  And embracing that which Paul said will abide, rather than vanish away.

Paul’s three great & enduring virtues are faith, hope, and charity.  Here’s my current interpretation:

Faith

I have placed my faith in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.   I don’t KNOW if Jesus is real.  But, I do KNOW that the teachings and example ascribed to him are the “way, the truth, and the life.”  In other words, it is true that they provide a way to live a good, productive and fulfilling life.  The very kind of life to which I aspire.

When I speak of faith in the religious sense, I only place it in Jesus Christ.  I have 64 years of experience to KNOW that His teachings and example contain the truth for how to conduct my life.

Hope

I hope that Jesus is real in every aspect.

I hope there is a God.

I hope that there is a life after this.

I hope to be with my family and other loved ones in the next life.

Regardless of whether or not the things I hope for are real, I will pursue what I KNOW to be true…the teachings and example of Jesus.

Charity

According to Paul, this is the greatest of the three abiding virtues.

I am working towards having charity for ALL.  Perhaps it’s the greatest virtue because it requires the most conscious effort.  It may be easy for others…good for you.  For me, I learn to love one group and then I realize I’ve started to love another group less.  It’s a work in progress.

Charity never faileth.  Often mine does.  When it doesn’t, I witness marvelous and majestic things happen.

Why I am I writing this today?  A video.

For my family and most of my friends, the concept of not KNOWING that God exists is startling, weird, and frequently off-putting.  I had similar reactions…to myself, as I felt my knowledge “vanish away.”

But, something beautiful has now happened on two occasions.  These occurences would have been impossible if I had not stumbled into Paul’s footsteps.  These two transcendent experiences would not have occurred if my knowledge had not vanished.  If I had not put away my childish things.

A couple of months ago, my wife and I saw the movie ‘Dr. Strange.’  One of the main characters had lived for centuries.  A pivotal scene arrived where she was about to finally leave her earthly existence.  It was poignant.  Tears came.  Then the thought, “How beautiful is the idea that there is a God.”  More tears.

Today, a son-in-law shared a video.  It was a compilation of family events from the past few months.  The center piece being the birth of their third child.  As I watched, tears flowed.  Then the thought, “How beautiful is the idea that there is a God.”  More tears.

All my life, I have taken for granted the existence of God.  My former KNOWLEDGE was a gorgeous childlike belief.  But never once had I experienced the overwhelming awe and wonder of the thrilling possibility that there is a God.  Now that my knowledge has vanished…Now that I have put away childish things…Now that I’ve become a man…It really is breathtaking to experience the abiding virtue of hope.  Time & time again.

15 thoughts on “Hope–A Breathtaking Virtue

  1. Beautiful words Sam, and even more beautiful what they represent going on inside you.

    I too once felt that I “knew”. Since I no longer “know”, now I don’t have a real clue how I might “know” much of anything as I was wrong about SO MUCH.

    Just like a new pair of shoes, the not knowing was uncomfortable (understatement), but after a while the shoes feel better now. And I too have noticed many things that are much more profound to me now. I went to wake up my teenage son the other day. I opened the door and he didn’t stir. I just looked at him, felt immense love for him, and tears just flowed. More than ever I stop while I am walking and just look at the clouds or the moon and I am filled with emotions.

    I am taking my new shoes and continuing on my path, but now I am not so much looking for what is coming in the eternities, but the joy I have today – right now. I have hope there is a God and I feel that God knows my heart, so I don’t worry about what is after this life as I enjoy each day more and nothing brings more joy than helping others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I finally understand how you could give up your temple recommendation. If you don’t have a testimony of God and Jesus Christ, why would you want to go there. It all makes sense now. I hope you are able to one day have the faith of a little child and know that they have recently come from their Heavenly Parents. SD that time has taken that from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re confusing intellectual honesty and integrity with a lack of faith. Sam has faith as he beautifully expressed above, in that he hopes for things which HE HAS NO CERTAINTY ABOUT. As Paul stated, faith is exactly that hope that lacks “the evidence of things…seen”.

      That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a testimony – he’s made it clear exactly what he knows and doesn’t know. Perhaps it is we members who don’t deserve the temple recommends for being dishonest in our dealings with our testimonies, even if we’re doing it ignorantly by stating knowledge of things we really DON’T KNOW, but rather believe strongly. Not trying to pick a fight, but perhaps it’s worth considering before attempting to make him feel guilty or less worth of the temple because he’s attempting to be accurate and honest.

      I welcome Sam’s kind of honesty and integrity in more of our sacrament meetings.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sam is a dear friend and I have read everything he has written. I know that for many years he knew that God lived and that Jesus Christ is his son. I also knew that he had given his Temple Recommend back to his Bishop. I really didn’t understand why he would do that when I know he is a good member of the Church. This blog cleared that up for me. I now understand that he can’t say he knows those to things to be true. I was not passing judgement and I know that Sam knows that and is capable of understanding what I meant.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Janice,

      Yikes! If faith, hope and charity are not good enough for God, the apostle Paul has some splainin’ to do.

      I love you Janice. Thanks for continuing to be engaged in our gospel conversations.

      -Sam

      Like

  3. Beautiful words reflecting a beautiful heart, Sam.

    You have graduated yourself from The Plan of Eternal Stagnation to The Plan of Never Ending Discovery.

    What if . . . just what if . . . one fine day we come to the startling and overwhelming realization that the separation we have felt from God all of our lives (like God is “up there” somewhere), is . . . truly and very literally . . . an ILLUSION? As in . . . that alleged separation does not exist.

    What if God is right now … as we speak … completely flooding and filling all of the allegedly empty space between the molecules, atoms and subatomic particles of every fiber of your being? What God is the primal creation source from which all that is has emerged?

    One ball and chain that many who unlock their hearts and minds from Canned Correlated Conformity is to lose the infantile need to think you KNOW everything worth knowing, when in reality you are worse than clueless.

    Mark Twain wrote wisdom: “It’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.”

    Being fiercely clueless that you are indeed clueless may not kill you, but it will certainly stunt your alleged spiritual growth and prevent you from ever meeting, let alone getting to know, the astoundingly awesome being that is YOU.

    Embracing the Grand Mystery opens the door to Unlimited Discovery. Acknowledging that maybe we don’t even have the cognitive capacity yet to grasp more than a faint glimpse of the totality of creation is maybe a good start. If the more you learn, the more you comprehend that you do NOT know, you might be pointed in a positive direction.

    Thank you again, Sam. YOU ARE an awesome being!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like where you are coming from, Gary. It’s what I’m coming to discover on my journey, too. That everything we “know” about God may be wrong. That we literally are one with God, the creator, the Source of all. That it is the height of hubris to say that we know all there is to know about a particular subject, let alone God.

      My wife and I attended one of Sam’s talkerias and it was quite refreshing to be able to talk about my new-found beliefs without concern that they would be rejected out of hand.

      I believe I would enjoy talking with you, too, Gary.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I appreciate your thoughtful comments, debatesx.

        One of the pure joys of living without the Correlated Culture is giving yourself permission to have your own thoughts, do you own explorations and experience your own personal Life on your own personal terms … as opposed to serving as an obedient, programmed cog in a giant machine with its own purpose and objectives that have little in common with your own core values.

        I just had the beautiful experience of listening to John Dehlin interview his amazing wife, Margi Dehlin, on a Mormon Stories podcast. Margi is clearly a very “old soul” and delighted me nonstop with her deep insights and eloquence as she shared intimate details of her inner life while an active member, during hers and John’s transition, and now as very happy post-Mormon.

        The three podcasts total 4-1/2 hours, but are worth every minute … no contest. I strongly recommend that everyone who reads this follow this link and prepare to experience a depth of warm and loving kindness in a fellow human being that is truly awe inspiring.

        http://www.mormonstories.org/margi-dehlin/

        I would love to meet the Talkeria crowd sometime. There is a nonzero chance that I might have other business in Houston (Katy) later this spring.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Gary,

    “Never ending discovery.” Well that pretty much sums up the journey I’ve been on the past 2 1/2 years. Marvelous & gut-wrenching. Exhilarating & heart rending. Joy & tears. —and lot’s of new friends along the way. Your a certainly one of them, Gary. Thanks for sharing your story the other day. Thanks for your support and understanding.

    One day we’ll have to meet more than just digitally. What a delight you would be at a Talkeria. Last week I took it on the road. It was so wonderful that I hope to do it when I travel next. Who knows, it could make a stop in the neighborhood of my good friend Gary.

    Best Wishes, Sam

    Like

    1. Thanks for your comments, Sam.

      Yes, I really do feel like you and I have become friends. Birds of a feather draws us together. Ain’t it just magical how real, authentic friendships just sprout naturally and organically when authentic seeds are planted and natural conditions are supportive? Isn’t THAT how Life is supposed to play out?

      Contrast this with your typical TBM “friendships” where the only reason you even know the person is an accident of geography and Sunday meeting schedules. Is it not a bit like dating someone you met at AA? Could work out, right?

      I am always amazed and pleased when I hear about people leaving the Church in the rear view mirror, and having a friendship with a still-TBM endure and survive. That reality that few friendships survive a faith crisis is very telling, and not a happy story about Correlated Culture. (I like that terminology, which I will take credit for spawning. It’s not openly pejorative, but truth insinuating nonetheless. Lotsa meaning condensed into just two words.)

      As I mentioned on another reply, I may be heading to Katy later in the spring. Kind of a long shot at this point, but it could happen. I will be sure and get together with you, Sam, if the cookie crumbles right.

      All the Best is what you deserve, Sam!

      -GaryC

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The final nail in my membership with the LDS church wasn’t for the myriad historical issues or the lies or any of that; it was because I no longer believed that God – as explained to me by Mormonism – existed.

    I went through years of agnosticism before stumbling into a series of events that led to me reading Aquinas and his arguments for God, and surprisingly found myself agreeing with the possibility that God might exist. When I stripped away Elohim and Kolob and the handshakes and the polygamy and the Book of Abraham and the “exalted man” whose revelations and doctrine suspiciously appeared like the evolving tastes of the men in control of the church, I found He Who Said “I Am.”

    Some of the less-self-aware TBMs who comment on your blog see this post as the evidence for why you shouldn’t hold a temple recommend, because you don’t “know” – but fail to really understand where you’re coming from. What about all the other things you used to “know” thanks to Mormonism, such as the doctrine that blacks were inferior due to being less valiant in the pre-existence? They themselves certainly “know” things are aren’t correct, but trying to convince them otherwise is an exercise in utter futility.

    Sam, I’d be a liar if I told you that I knew for a certainty that God existed after my faith transition – but I can honestly tell you that for the first time that I truly think and hope He does.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t a Temple Recommend a reward for saying:

      “Yes, Bishop. I am continuing to drink the Kool-Aid, and I must say that it still tastes red and delightsome.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Gary, it absolutely is, and I love how you’ve described it.

        The temple recommend is evidence of how the church conflates belief in the principles of Jesus Christ with obedience to LDS church policies. If a member publicly announced that they believed that polygamy was not the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and that blacks were not spiritually inferior to whites, they would have been denied a temple recommend in the early LDS church – and depending on how much they objected to polygamy, deemed an anti-Mormon apostate.

        Sam, contrary to what Janice and believers like her will claim, the temple recommend isn’t a measure of your belief in Christ or your desire to follow Him – it’s a litmus of how willing you are to do what the Mormon leadership tell you to do.

        Liked by 1 person

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