My Relief Society president (women's ministry chair) asked me to write down some thoughts on how my faith has grown this year. Here's what I wrote:
In the past few years, I have sometimes found my mind and heart churning over doctrinal questions or what I perceived as wrongs in church culture and practice. I started writing down questions one Sunday in March when I woke up. Before church began, I was set apart as a counselor in the Stake Primary, and I wrote: “God wants me to shepherd Primary children and Primary leaders to the temple. How do I reconcile my questions/concerns with that charge?” Ben Francisco was conducting Fast and Testimony Meeting that day. He talked about losing the study cards for his medical exams that he had been preparing for three years, doing everything he could to find them to no avail, and then getting the feeling that this was an opportunity to practice his faith. This was an answer to my question, that the right thing to do was not to quit going to the temple or studying scriptures, but to be faithful and consistent in doing those things.
In May, I began a monthly Saturday shift in the temple laundry. It has been like a soothing balm for my spirit and helps me feel happy in the temple. There are few people and few words in laundry. There are laundry baskets, piled heavy and high with dripping white jumpsuits, towels, socks and sports bras, while enormous whirring machines wash and dry. It’s a race, a game, to empty the baskets, fold everything, put it away. The physicality of the work is somehow liberating and rejuvenating. It clears my mind and settles my spirit. Thanks in part to my laundry shifts, the temple and I are on good terms.
I had a close friend and confidante leave the church in October. I missed her at church (I still miss her), cried for weeks, as much for me as for her. Such is the power of the Atonement that out of sadness blessings can come; her absence on Sundays has made it clear to me that I am in the right place, and I want to be there. I felt that strongly in a recent Fast and Testimony Meeting. I had been feeling tired that morning and wished I could stay in bed all day. When I arrived at church, President Packer was in our meeting to release Brother Francisco and call Brother Mati to the bishopric. My heart was full to overflowing with happiness to be there.
The moments described here have helped me feel more peaceful and confident in my faith. For now, I feel grounded in the personal knowledge that God is aware of me and that He loves me and He forgives me.