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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Got Questions? 9 Ways to Get Answers to Your Toughest Questions.

Face it, learning is a part of life.  True, many of the lessons we learn come more easily than others, but sometimes we come upon situations or circumstances that cause us to seriously consider life's deepest and most meaningful questions.  I think it's safe to say that everyone, at some point, questions things like the existence of God, the role and validity of Jesus Christ, the role religion and family play in society, what constitutes good and bad and more.

Here are 9 things I have noticed about the process of finding answers that has always worked for me and I can personally guarantee will work for anyone with an open mind, based on my own experience.

1. Pray.  God is the source of all truth.  To the majority of all religious or otherwise spiritual individuals today, this isn't an issue up for debate.  We know from whom all truth comes to us; and our Father in Heaven loves us and is only waiting for us to ask and ready our hearts for the love and truth. He so eagerly seeks to give us, to teach, show and help us comprehend the truth piece by piece.  Keep in mind the critical nature of the triality (see ending note) of that statement.  He wants truth to be a part of our understanding as well as the very core of our being, our very nature.  Never feel that God is not interesting in showing and revealing all truth to you as you are ready to receive it.  All we need is to ask for it and He will prepare us to receive it if we don't resist Him.

2. Meditate.  Why else would the Savior command His people to "...ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand..."?  Our mortal minds are so weak compared to His.  He understands that many things He teaches us will take some time for us to wrap our minds around.  As we make a habit on consistently focusing our thoughts on His gospel and how we can better live and understand it our comprehension of the love and truth of it all will come, in our mind and hearts.

3. Stay humble.  I don't care whether someone is completely incapable of speaking, reading, writing or communicating audibly or visually with another human being or on the other end of the spectrum, a genius, a member of Mensa or something to that effect.  There is always something about which each human being, on an individual and collective basis, understands little to nothing.  There is always some area of life that someone is going to understand exponentially better than you.  In the case of God, He understands EVERYTHING so much better than us that it surpasses our capacity to fathom just how far ahead of us He is.  There are many things that, from a mortal perspective, we just are not going to understand, period.  But isn't that the beauty of it, that even at the level He is, He still remembers and perfectly comprehends what it's like to be in our circumstances and lovingly wishes to bless us in our efforts to come to know Him?  He doesn't look at us from an attitude selfish of "man you people are so ignorant and far below me, you have no clue how much you are missing", but rather, a loving and kind "I'm not nearly as concerned with how far you have to go as much as I am with how far you want to go and what I want to give you whenever you are ready for it." As long as we keep that in mind and acknowledge how little we really know compared to Him and keep our hearts tuned to Him, our potential will remain limitless.

4. Seek with intent.  If someone were to ask a psychologist how to have a successful relationship and then choose not to follow their advice, there wasn't a point in asking the question in the first place was there?  (I'll get to the idea of not following opinions blindly later)  The same applies to asking God, or anyone far that matter, for answers.  If you want to know the truth about something but are not willing to let that truth effect your perceptions or behavior, maybe you weren't ready for the answer in the first place.  So if you want to know truth, you'd better be prepared to accept it when it comes and live by it, no matter how it may contradict what you thought was right.  The process of trial and error will always eventually get you where you need to be so long as you are perfectly honest with yourself.

5. Get facts from the source.  I've said this many times before in different places, but if you wanted to know about black history, should you go to the KKK to find out?  If you wanted to learn to play the piano, should you go to a school of business to learn?  Should you go to a Pentecostal church to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?  Should you go to someone who is not God or sent by God to learn about Him?  Obviously not in all cases.  If you want to learn about black history, ask a professor of the subject.  If you want to learn about how to play piano, go to a school of music.  If you want accurate information about the LDS church ask the LDS church!  If you want to learn about God, ask Him and search His words via prophets, ancient and modern!  It's really not any more complicated than that.

6. Use reasoning.  God has counselled us to use our minds and powers of reasoning and not just accept one mans opinion of something because it sounds legitimate.  He has given us the ability to seek out all perceptions or perspectives of a subject matter, test them and reason through them in our minds and then, when we have come to the best answer we can find, take it up with Him and ask.

I remember a very effective illustration of this point made, possibly unintentionally, by W. Cleon Skousen in this talk:

"...in Sunday School they talked about the terrible suffering of Jesus on the cross, I would say to my teacher, "Who wanted that anyway? Who was all that suffering for? Who is it to satisfy?" And my teacher would reply, "Well, it was to satisfy Heavenly Father." That didn’t answer my question. It seemed that if Heavenly Father wanted us to come to the earth, after we repented, all he would have to say was, "Come on back. You did the best you could." Why do we weed all this suffering? And all my life, at least until I went on my mission, I asked those questions.

So one day I was riding along with President Widstoe, who was in charge of all the European Mission. I was only 17 when I was called on my mission, and I thought that this was my chance to ask Brother Widstoe all these questions that had been on my mind since I was a little boy and so I asked him. "Who told you to ask me that question?" And I said, "It’s my question. Nobody told me to ask it."

So he said, "This is the most profound question of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it shouldn’t be answered until people are at first capable of wondering about it so they can understand the answer. So I’ll share the answer with you over a period of time." (And if you’ve never wondered, you can stop reading right here.)

"That’s great!" I said and started getting out a pen and paper. "If you’ll just give me the scriptures, I’ll write them down." He started to tell me, "One scripture is in the [Doctrine and Covenants], another is in the Book of Mormon." "Aren’t you going to give me the chapter and verse?" "I wouldn’t deprive you of the pleasure of finding them yourself." "

He nailed it right there!  Is it not such an incredible feeling when you struggle to find an answer to something for a considerable amount of time and finally find it in it's purest form, or work on something really difficult and you finish it to find it's perfectly done, just the way you intended it?  I would rather have the deep satisfaction of knowing that I worked my heart out or put every bit of my heart and soul into finding an answer and then finally see things clearly from a divine perspective than having something spoon fed to me on a silver platter and having nothing to show for it.  What a waste!  I want the pure joy of having my heart and soul transformed from my search for truth.

7. Test the truth.  How can you more effectively and surely know what is true than to see the effects of it first hand in your own life?  I can't even begin to know the truth of what it feels like that have cancer, how to win an international competition, manage a large company, to suffer the loss of a child.  I may be able to understand these things from a second hand perspective, from careful tutelage, but that's where my perspective ends unless I experience it first hand.  I still don't comprehend truths of these things fully and can't claim to until I've experienced it myself.

What I can say, absolutely, that I know from first had experience is the benefits and blessings of paying tithing in the Lord's church, the joys of pure honesty, the validity of the healing and transforming effects of the Atonement of Christ, the joys in the process of mastering an advanced piano piece, getting a complex segment of Javascript to work perfectly, just to name a few.  Why?  Because I tested these things myself, of my own will and choice, and I've got something to show for it.  There's really no feeling in the world quite like that.

8. Learn to recognize the Holy Ghost.  One person may feel it differently from another, but truth is only fully understood when it is known first hand in the mind and heart.  It takes practice over a lifetime to truly understand the language of the Spirit, but always remember that The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) "bears witness of the truth... so deeply that no earthly power or authority can separate him[ or her] from that knowledge" (President James E. Faust, April 1996).  Another way to look at it is that truth not only seems and appears correct, it feels correct and is eternally and constantly provable.

I know, from the power of the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is our personal loving Savior, that God loves us, that His plan for us is perfect, and that the Book of Mormon is true, that it's truly another testament of Jesus Christ, that I have a responsibility to spread goodness with my gifts in music and that honesty is always the best policy no matter what among other things.  It's harder to forget or be complacent with truth as long as it's a part of who you are in your heart.

9. Want it.  If you really want to know the truth, not only will it be sweeter to you, you will be more likely to get it.  As we seek for knowledge with a humble heart and desire to have it and use it for good God will engineer our circumstances to bring that truth to us in it's purest form.  He has told me that, through the exercise of my faith, I would receive good answers to questions and problems that need solutions throughout my life.  I want it.  He knows it.

I will forever seek His help and counsel to me in all things.

After all, He is the source of all truth.

Notes:
Triality definition: a union or junction of three; threeness; a word invented after the model of duality.

visit the link, search for "triality" and click the JPEG link next to "Century Dictionary"