I just finished reading a book by Adam Miller. It is called Letters to a Young Mormon. Others have written books in this format, but this one struck me and I wanted to tell you about it…in a letter.
Adam talks about two stories. The story that we want our lives to tell and the story of God’s work in your life. The more we try to tell our own story, the more we resist Him. When we do this we are sinning.
Todd, I admit…I sometimes try to influence the story of your life. I should not do this. But our stories are not what is important. It is what God has in store for us.
This is hard, because I really like my story. Okay, maybe not so much. But that might be the problem. Maybe the story I wanted my life to tell was not the story that should have been told at all. This might explain a lot.
I am glad you are part of this strange story.
One of the things I loved about Adam’s book it was that his reflections made me stretch. Not in my understanding of the words, but in my faith and desire to become closer to God.
His letter on scripture impressed me as we head into the Old Testament year in Sunday School. I am not always comfortable with how others use the scriptures, but I have always found great value in engaging scripture. It is why I want our family scripture study to be more than just something we do as part of the process of wrapping up the day before bedtime.
Here is something that struck me from his letter on the scriptures:
You and I must translate these books again. Word by word, line by line, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, God wants the whole thing translated once more, and this time he wants it translated into your native tongue, inflicted by your native concerns, and written in your native flesh. To be a Mormon is to do once more, on your own scale, the same kind of work that Joseph did.
His letter on science will be interesting to you, particularly as your contemplate a career in technology.
His letter about faith stands out to me in particular, because faith is a concept I love. I love faith. But it is something that is often portrayed as either silly (by those that do not value religion) or as something that is important…but not all that interesting (as given by the standard treatment of faith at church).
Faith is something that you hope for and believe in, but which you cannot see. This is what you are told in Church and later when you get to seminary. It is correct in part, but it does not tell us a whole lot about why that faith matters or why faith in Jesus Christ is needed for salvation.
“Faith is more like being faithful to your husband or wife than it is like believing in magic,” writes Adam. “Fidelity is the key. You may fall in love with someone because of how well they complement your story, but you’ll prove yourself faithful to them only when you care more for the flawed, difficult, and unplotted life you end up sharing with them.”
Being faithful to the gospel or having faith in The Savior, is about a long difficult relationship. This is not because Jesus is a difficult person to have a relationship with, but because any serious relationship is difficult. He wants to have an eternal relationship with me. He wants to have an eternal relationship with you.
Part of why faith is hard for me, is that having a relationship with me is not easy.
Todd, you will have doubts.
“Repurpose them for the sake of faith,” Adam writes.
“When your faith falters and you’re tempted to run, stand up and bear testimony.” Adam writes. “A testimony is a promise to stay.”
This is why I bear my testimony. I am in the Church to stay, even if I am a little weird.
…bearing testimony is like saying “I love you.” A testimony doesn’t just reflect what someone else has already decided, it is a declaration that, in the face of uncertainty, you have made a decision. Saying “I love you” or “I know the church is true” commits you to living in such a way as to make that love true.
As I read this passage late last night, I cried. I am crying now as I share it here. It is a good thing that you are at school. You get uncomfortable when I cry in front of you.
But the idea of a testimony as shared by Adam spoke to my heart and mind in a way that few things have in a long time.
Reading this book has helped build up my testimony. I am pretty sure that I do not count as a young Mormon anymore. But I am young in learning. Especially compared to God.
Todd, the church is true. I love the church. I love you.
UPDATE: Letters to a Young Mormon is now available on Kindle: