I was invited to express what I believe or know about regarding my spiritual connection with the divine and with the Church.
My personal exposure to intuited knowing has taught me that personal experience, personal encounter and personal relationship with The Divine have always outweighed theology and religious doctrines.
My experience with God has taught me that there is no uniquely potent formula of practice, systems of belief and scriptural writings that hold specific and inerrant keys to the experience that is gained by trusting intuition. The willingness to be led has no worthiness nor belonging requirements that must be honored before one’s labors bear fruit.
This one thing I may boast and I shall: In my own way – and such is not a way of absolutes for anyone else but me – I know and love the Living God as both Father and Mother and the Living God knows and loves me.
I experience God as the source of my spiritual self – a source that desires growth toward knowledge rather than mere obedience to doctrinal notions that bear linear progression towards some sort of abstract perfection.
It is my experience of God that suggests to me that the human will is of itself capable of perceiving – as much as possible – the highest good of all concerned. It is my experience that such “blessedness” need be practiced in order to be experience with frequency and might very well be what human life is all about.
In that regard my experience with prayer and scripture has taught me to lean on the Divine in a manner that seeks communion according to the pattern, or “formula”, if you will, that reads as follows.
“Help me, Lord, to see things as you see them; to know what you know; to be able to experience life as you experienced life”
My relationship with the Church has come to be -as defined by me regardless of how the Church defines it – an interactive relationship of contribution and participation. The LDS Church is the Christian venue for my primary spiritual and social interaction. Though not exclusively limited to Mormons, I spend more time in some form of loving relationship with my LDS brothers and sisters.
I consider myself neither monkish with tendencies toward total solitude and mystic contemplation nor a social extrovert who must always be “doing” Church or religion-based activities in order to feel spiritual.
My respect for the traditions of Mormonism continues to grow at the same time my attitude about correlated doctrines and micromanagement systems, policies and procedures exists in me at an extremely dissenting level.
Having no desires to try to reform the Church, form a dissenting sect, or once again abandoning my culture, I have chosen to live a balancing act that tests my tolerance level almost weekly – so long as I become reactive to other member’s literalized beliefs.
The only other thing about The Church is this:
I voluntarily left the Church.
I voluntarily took upon myself all the real and imagined consequences of leaving the Church and of personal apostate behavior
… and I survived.
I did not die.
I did not suffer a stupor of thought nor a sense of estrangement with the Holy Ghost.
And I came back on my own spiritual terms.
I came to understand that The Church has no power over my serenity and happiness. There is no threat from a spiritual and/or eternal perspective that The Church can assert, exercise or carry out against me.
The Church can threaten, but only God can deliver on their threats
… and the Church God is not THE God of my experience.
The Church can withhold membership participation opportunities from me based on my failure to meet artificial standards of conduct and performance. However, The Church has no ability to ruin my Eternity in even the smallest way.
I cherish that knowledge because it removes the only leverage The Church ever had in my life. Fear, shame and guilt are meaningless as factors in how I choose to respond to what is said and done in Church.
I love my family and I love my people. I would not deliberately spiritually harm anyone in either overlapping category. I have more or less come to terms with keeping my personal spirituality mostly to myself (with exceptions to those who directly ask me what I think and believe.)
I share most of my deepest feelings here with Venerables because from my own religious perspective, The Venerables is my most personal and trusted home ward.
The Venerables are those brothers and sisters who have claim on my spiritual honesty and loyalty along with the idea that my most cherished and expressible inner feelings will be respected and kept within the group unless I indicate otherwise.
If I were to express it as a testimony these are the things I would say.