This month’s First Presidency Message in the Ensign is an instructional essay by Eyring on remaining faithful and spiritually strong.
I struggle with this narrative because it… isn’t true. At least, not for me.
I did all of these things. I was the Molliest of Mormons. I had some unorthodox beliefs, for sure. I have for a long time. But those beliefs were shelved most of the time, and to combat them I dug into the Mormon life with gusto. I didn’t watch TV on Sundays, and I only read church books. I journaled and focused on magnifying my callings while listening to Kenneth Cope and Janice Kapp Perry. I never missed church, ever. Even when I was ill. Taking the sacrament was too important. I was obsessed with knowing the Lord’s will for me and whether I was doing it. I took constant inventory of the ways I messed up and prayed about them all. I wanted to be better. Before I was endowed, I did weekly baptisms in the temple, and after I was endowed, I did weekly sessions and went through initiatory at least once a month. I took constant inventory of the ways I messed up and prayed about them all. I wanted to be better. I bore my testimony every Fast Sunday. If not in sacrament meeting, then in Relief Society. I read my scriptures *at least* half an hour a day, and I read every book about the scriptures and the gospel that I could get my hands on.
Eyring says all this should have armed me with righteousness. And maybe it did. But, it was while I was doing all of this that my faith in the church fell apart. None of those behaviors protected me from that.
The thing that changed was that I took my unorthodox beliefs off of the shelf. The shelf was heavy with inauthenticity, and I couldn’t hold it up anymore. I started to think about these unorthodox beliefs and talk about them and share them with others. And it was in doing this that I realized that church is not a welcome place for people with unorthodox beliefs. Even though I was doing all of the other things right, it didn’t matter if I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my authenticity by leaving those things on that shelf any longer.
After this realization, even if I had wanted to put those things back on the shelf, I could not have. It was too late, and they didn’t fit anymore. Because the truth is that *my* problem was never those unorthodox beliefs. My problem was that I was trying to squeeze into a mold that wasn’t made for me.
Maybe doing these things did keep me spiritually strong. But my outcome is not what Eyring predicts.