Inspired is a funny word. It's a word I've always associated with religion and with revelation. Recently I've seen it being thrown about as a word to describe the color of paint in a living room, or the way that a chef used the mint in a particular dish. It's also something I've really been missing.
I was in a pretty hard place this time a couple of years ago. You can read a really vague and kind of depressing reference to it here if you want. It was the kind of experience that I think for most people would result in a "crisis of faith." Somehow my convictions got through it pretty unscathed and I came out of it pretty proud of how well I'd handled things spiritually. Things improved and we all went on our merry way. And then the crisis of faith came back and hit me full force -- almost like a delayed reaction. The questions about my childhood faith in no way relate to the events of two years ago ... they center on completely different topics and issues than what I battled through. But somehow I can't disconnect the two. It's like what happened woke me up and forced me out of my secure world. A harsh reminder that the "fairy tale" version of the gospel isn't the real version and that a testimony and a desire to remain active, like anything worth having, was going to take some real, hard work for the first time in a long time. There was a lot of good that came out of those trials -- not the least of which was a fresh pair of eyes and perspective. And since the Church is such a big part of my life, it got a fresh new look as well.
That was just the beginning. Then came a life-changing feminist legal theory class, the finding of an amazing community of non-conventional LDS women, and more academic and scholarly reading than I care to show here. My childhood faith was no longer enough for me, nor was my missionary zeal. I'm no longer a child and I'm no longer a missionary. It is time for me to find a new way of viewing and thinking about my faith that meets the needs of my new phase in life. It may take a lifetime, maybe only a couple years. If the latter, I have no doubt the "faith of my late 20s" will be insufficient for the life I will have in my mid-30s and I will shortly find myself revisiting this process all over again. It was a good and peaceful realization for me that it's OK if my faith changes since my life has, too.
I've felt lost and in transition at times. But I've also had some wonderful experiences. All through it, though, the thing I craved the most was inspiration. That feeling of light and truth that comes directly into your soul. I missed it desperately when I first began this journey. I just couldn't seem to find answers anywhere. Everything just seemed to lead to more questions. It's one of the reasons I had no desire to write. I didn't want to list a bunch of unanswerable questions. Slowly, the inspiration has returned. And with it, lots and lots of hope. None of my doctrinal questions have been concretely answered. But feelings of inspiration have been present nonetheless. Some questions have gone unanswered, but I have received little insights in how to deal with all the inconsistency I see and ways to cope on a daily basis. Following through on those little promptings have been life-savers and I've found myself less and less frustrated or angry. I'm not sure what's coming, but based on the last couple of weeks I'm liking what I'm seeing. It's exhilarating, actually. I always wondered what it would be like to come into and accept the Church as a convert. I think this is the closest chance I'm going to get and I'm eating it up. Though it doesn't mean I don't still have a right to mourn the security and certainty that has been lost as my view has been expanded. I don't regret losing the narrow-mindedness--but can we all be OK with fact it sure made things simpler?
On a lighter note, "inspiration" has had some pretty practical impacts on my life recently. More on that in the forthcoming "D" post.