If I were to try to explain succinctly how I have gained peace and joy and growth in the Church while seeing many things differently than many of the people around me, I think I would say that I determined to craft "my own faith" within my "faith community".
I decided CONSCIOUSLY that my faith is my faith - and that there is so much good and right and true and inspiring and ennobling and empowering within what I came to call "pure Mormonism". Frankly, I made that conscious decision much earlier in life than most people do - simply because I recognized much earlier in life than most people do that the way I read and saw things was quite different than most of the people around me. (Seriously, when you are 7 years old, are a natural parser and realize that you believe the Book of Mormon and Bible you are reading really don't say what your Bishop and parents think they say in some cases . . . When you can't discuss Talmage's "Jesus, the Christ" with the other Deacons . . .)
One of the things that helped me is that I am drawn more to the "big picture" than to the "details". I'm a philosopher more than an engineer. Those who obsess over the details struggle more when they are faced with being different, I believe. Also, I'm not an angry person, by nature. I was raised in a peaceful and accepting home, generally, and that has helped tremendously.
Also, in the name of total openness, my personality lends itself more to not caring what others think about me than many others' personalities do for them. In other words, it's easier for me to say, "This is MY faith, and I don't care what you say or do. Nobody can make me leave." With that foundational decision, I have spent decades honing my heterodox orthopraxy - figuring out CONSCIOUSLY what I can and can't say and do and retain equilibrium within the community - and, just as importantly, how to be a visible leader there. It also helps to find obvious role models, who are there at all levels - like Joseph B. Wirthlin over the last decade or so.
I guess my attempt at being concise would be to emphasize that I made a conscious decision - and that decision involved a serious pursuit of charity and an intentional focus on principles and ideas over obsession about humans and their foibles and follies. It wasn't instantaneous, but it now is deeply ingrained and essentially natural - in that my first response to most things now leans toward charity, even though I'm still working on it in many ways and situations.
A letter from a Gadianton Robber
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