Wednesday, November 01, 2006

wrestling with god

i write this post with some hesitancy. partly because i don't want any extra isolation. even more because i don't want extra attention. despite these fears, i feel i need to write it up anyways...

just before my seventeenth birthday i hurt my back. i would eventually discover that i had cracked one of my vertebrae - a fractured spinous process on my fourth lumbar. unfortunately my parents were across the pacific ocean at my maternal grandmother's (my obachan) funeral. my older brother was living in provo going to byu. at home it was just myself and my little brother bobby.

when my parent had left for japan, i was only feeling mild discomfort and believed that i had only strained a muscle in my back. after a couple days i began having difficultly walking. eventually the softest of movements would shoot excruciating pain through my whole body. on sunday, i came home from church early because i could not handle the pain. i sent bobby to his friends so that he would not have to see me in pain. i remember lying in the guestroom bed crying and not knowing what to do. by now, even breathing caused an unbearable amount of pain. as i laid there, my body went into shock. suddenly i found myself shaking and shivering uncontrollably, screaming in agony as each shiver shot a burst of pain into every inch of body.

having nowhere to turn, i remember praying aloud, crying "oh jesus. i need your help. please help me!" as i spoke these words, the shivering stopped. the pain was still there, but it was nulled with an overwhelming warmth and sense of peace. i was calm and relaxed, falling asleep a few minutes later.


just before my twenty-sixth birthday i decided there was no god. i don't know how this happened. it wasn't really sudden, nor did it take long to develop. i just woke up one morning and found myself alone. others have tried to explain it. they were wrong. it wasn't a morality issue. it wasn't my philosophy classes. it wasn't anti-mormonism. it wasn't my frustrations with church. it just was.

i never thought i'd find myself thinking this. i had always been the guy with faith. i loved my mission. i spent two years of my mission sharing something that mean a lot to me. i had felt the spirit over and over again in my life. for some reason, these lost the meaning they once had. i swore to myself that i'd never set foot in a church again.


i haven't been able to get that night out of my mind. the night when god helped me though my pain.


call it god. call it a psychological experience. call it whatever. that night meant something to me and it always will. seven months after my declaration of atheism, i decided that such a hard stance was arrogant and untenable. i soon found myself stepping back into a church meeting. the last half of a year had been one of the saddest and loneliest periods of my life. i wasn't returning as a believer (whatever that means). rather i was a skeptical agnostic seeking for whatever i may find.


for the last year, i have been what one may call active. i've been going to church most every sunday. friends ask why i go. i often ask myself why i go. i really don't have an answer - at least not one i can put into words. friends and others ask if i'm a believer. i don't know how to answer. perhaps i'm not ready to answer. perhaps there is no answer. perhaps i have to much pride to answer. or perhaps i can't put that answer into words, i can only try to show that answer through my actions - as weak as they may be at times.

i love the religious life. i want to participate in it more. like my experience with god eleven years ago, there is a part of my life that can't be explained. sure there may be rational and scientific explanations, but i wasn't experiencing scientific and rational explanations. it was more than a collection of predicates that may or may not be true.

last sunday i sat down and talked with my bishop for over an hour. a month ago, i would have never thought this would have happened. over the last year, i had never even shaken his hand and had little desire to meet with him. however, with a little coincidence (providence?) and some support from a wonderful friend, i found myself in his office having a rather enjoyable discussion. he was far more open to my concerns and issues than i ever would have expected. i left feeling like i had gained a new friend and some much needed support.

i don't know what tomorrow will bring. there are things i want and things that i fear. i guess much of it will take some time. until then, i will continue and enjoy my wrestle with god.


  1. Very interesting journey. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks indeed.

    I hope you find what you're looking for.

  3. Very touching post. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Seriously, thanks for sharing that with us, and thanks for our conversation at UVSC. I also have had a strong spiritual experience that I am very hesitant to let the secular world explain for me. I hope you keep in touch.


  5. ashley of augusta11/02/2006 3:30 PM


    i believe i asked, "so, are you mormon or what?"

    "i enjoyed your post. i'm a philosophy student at uvsc where i am currently copy-editing the proceedings from the first conference for the society for mormon philosophy and theology. i get that question you asked all the time, and i'm not always sure how to answer it. at a recent mission reunion, my mission president said "some philosopher think they become so smart that they think they know more than the men who wrote the scriptures. which kind are you going to be?" i answered, "we'll see." his had a surprised look on his face, as he was obviously not expecting that answer. i told him, "i am going to embrace truth where ever i find it." he gave me a hug and walked away.

    i'm not where i stand right now. as sterling mcmurrin said, "i'm on the knives edge of agnosticism, leaning toward theism."

    Posted by the narrator on Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    i feel you, i'm on the edge too.... i mean, if BYU has a winning season, it may just push me back in the "right" direction : )

  6. I'm going through similar types of wonderings with myself, and I haven't had a forum where I could discuss them. My wife would never hear of it, so I keep it quiet at home. I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in my concerns about theism and religion.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. I have had similiar experiences that just don't seem to be explained well according to metaphysical naturalism. They are like a splinter in my mind that keeps me from having that wonderfully coherent and settling atheistic worldview. I have yet to understand them, and so like you I still crave the religious life. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for sharing.

    As long as you stay honest with yourself and true with your intentions you can't go wrong.

    I still think you are a jerk, but appreciated this article ;)

  9. I don't usually respond to blogs. This one made me feel like I needed to, but I'm not sure what to say. "I understand," or "I relate," seem ridiculously trite. I guess the gist of what I’m thinking is that wrestling, or balancing, or whatever metaphor you use becomes even more difficult when your belly is swollen with another life.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. I wish you the best.

  12. I totally relate to both wrestling with theism and yet having an experience which cannot be easily explained. I had been suffering from major depression for a while, and then one day I got to the point where I felt like I just could not go on. So I started praying, really praying, this time. Over the course of several days, and especially nights, I was on my knees pleading with God to answer me--answer whether He existed, give me comfort and hope, just help me some how. Finally one night I had the most loving feeling, most loving companion, come upon me. It stayed with me the next morning, and in fact stayed with me for several days. I seemed to know that I would not have it for very long, but this feeling seemed to be located in the center of my body. It had all wisdom, and it staved off all negative thoughts and criticisms that normally went through my mind. I was, for the first time, at peace with myself and the world around me. I had compassion for myself and others, and I had hope. Well, that was several years ago, and spiritual experiences does not a permanent testimony make. I still struggle with faith in God and Christ and Joseph Smith, but I cannot give up God for the most profound experience of my life those years ago.


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