So, for me, as for many, Sunday is a day for contemplation (at least during established hours of worship) and yesterday during Sacrament meeting I mused philosophy for a while while half listening to the speakers.
The first speaker is the one that caused me to think the most, because he spoke about aspects of faith in general and in the Church that I am personally more hazy on, namely the meaning and power of testimonies.
I feel it important here to also, at this point, explain a little about what my particular faith is and my views on Wayism so that my musings can be better understood.
Wayism: Seeking the ultimate good through actions/thoughts/intentions in life, to do so is considered "the Way"
-Key points to my concept of Wayism:
- Every good person (so nearly everyone who has ever lived) is/was/will be a Wayist since there is no real conversion to Wayism, people are simply opened to the fact that they are indeed Wayists (meaning that they do and seek to do good in their lives)
- Wayism does not exclude any person based on race, ethnicity, religion, or political belief
- Each person's Path is individual, even if they follow a religion, since no 2 people have had the exact same circumstances
- Organized religion is simply considered a possible Path to reach the ultimate good that may or may not be followed.
- Just because you are a part of a religion does not mean you are on a good Path if your actions are not supportive of goodness
Here is my dilemma with the way that testimony was described in the Sacrament meeting on Sunday with the knowledge of how I view Wayism, which is and has been a major aspect of my life for many years: Testimonies are the end all of faith and are all inclusive. This particular man, and many others I have heard in the past, have made it clear that they believe that a testimony is the end of faith, a molded rock at the foundation of your being.
That particular notion in and of itself I agree with. There is no way for a person to take back any true belief that they have, especially not one that is involved in a true Testimony of God. It is of course the last aspect of the statement that causes problems. In the Church, there is rarely a separation between a testimony of God, Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith and by extension the Church itself. There is the assumption that if you have a firm belief in one aspect, you must have a testimony of the others (at least if you are a member).
I, however, do not have a testimony of Joseph Smith, not in the way that the other members of my Church do. Nor do I have a testimony of my Church the way that others expect as a necessity in order to qualify as having a "testimony". Despite these "failings" I am still a mostly active member of my religion. I attend most Sunday meetings on a regular basis, I follow the dress and dietary standards expressed by the Church, I know all of the "Sunday School" answers to questions and know the proper language to use and can name scriptures easily. I have read all of the books and can find answers and comfort in their words. I, however, do not have a testimony of Joseph Smith, nor solely of the Church itself.
I am not going into boring details quite yet, but I will stress here that it is not black and white. I believe in God, in my own way, and in Jesus Christ his son and the Holy Ghost. I have faith and a testimony that is strong within me, it just isn't what I was told my entire life that it needed to be. I grew up thinking that I had no testimony, even though I believed in God and always turned toward Him. I believed this because others had influenced me into believing that my testimony must look a certain way in order to be considered, it is reinforced every Fast and Testimony Sunday.
I have accepted my testimony, even though it meant acknowledging that, by many's accounts, I am not a tried and true member of my Church.