Putting Things on the Shelf
Part of a series about My Faith Journey.
Like many true-believing members of the LDS church, I occasionally encountered things that would challenge my faith: apparent conflicts between Mormonism and science, claims by Christians that Mormons weren't Christian, or teachings that didn't quite match my lived experience. When I encountered these, I often wondered what to do with them.
Camilla Kimball, wife of LDS prophet/president Spencer Kimball, gave this useful metaphor:
“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.”
I found this to be a handy way to delay thinking about troubling topics. Here are some examples of things I put on the shelf:
My family life and church callings kept me plenty busy, so I really didn't have time to think about all this stuff that was on the shelf.
I saw a number of people leave the church, which also added weight to my shelf. They included: a prominent member of my home ward (he got silenced in a testimony meeting once), several relatives (family reunions were a little strained afterward), a guy my age that I grew up with, and a coworker. In all of these cases, I was reluctant to learn too many of the details as to why they left. I abided by the church teaching of not listening to apostates or any "anti-mormon" stuff they might have to say. Just seeing these people leave added weight to my shelf, so I didn't want the additional weight that would come from hearing what they had to say.
As the years wore on, I found my shelf was getting heavier and heavier, but no cracks (yet).