Asking Big Questions: How Do I Help Those Going through a Faith Crisis While Staying Strong in My Testimony?
by Lyndie Jackson
This article first appeared on www.fairlatterdaysaints.org
Isaiah foresaw a time when good would be called evil and evil would be called good (Isaiah 5:20). We live in the time he saw—a time when noisy opinions conflict with what we know to be true. Most of us know someone who currently struggles or has struggled with these conflicting ideas, and as disciples of Jesus Christ, we can help them.
President Dallin H. Oaks said, “We must stand fast against the values and practices that draw us away from the Lord’s teachings and our covenants, privileges, and obligations. We can do this with love.”1
Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–43 helps us understand how to help and influence others, which is “only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved.” We can help our friends and family working through a faith crisis as we show unconditional love, invite them to come unto Christ, and focus on eternity.
Show Unconditional Love
It all begins with love. Mormon’s description of charity perfectly illustrates how we can show love to those who are struggling with their faith. “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (Moroni 7:45).
When someone we love is struggling or does something contrary to what we believe, we should show love through patience, kindness, and humility. We should not be easily offended, and we should hold to the truth.
Wilford Woodruff counseled, “Remembering always the reason for the hope within you, make the love of God and of your fellows the foundation of your work; and moving forward steadily and prayerfully and earnestly, you cannot fail in accomplishing that which brings peace, happiness and salvation.”2
As we remember the hope of the gospel within us and show an outpouring of love to those around us, we can be strengthened as we strengthen others through our love.
Invite Them to Come unto Christ
Christ should be at the center of everything we do. Our actions should be guided by His actions, and our thoughts should be focused on Him. When we strive for this reality, we can act as He would when those around us struggle with their faith.
Every Knee Shall Bow by Dan Wilson
When we think of Christ in the New Testament, we see someone who taught by example, who lovingly corrected those He taught, and who was ready to help those who turned to Him. We can point those we love to Jesus Christ by acting as He did.
In addition to being an example, we should always be ready to testify of Christ and His gospel. Elder Clark G. Gilbert said, “Rather than condemning others, we should simply proclaim what we know and what we believe and invite others to follow the Savior. It is their opportunity to choose truth, not ours to compel.”3
The conversations we have with those who are experiencing a faith crisis should be Christlike in nature. We are not meant to change the hearts of those we love; only the Spirit can do that. What we are meant to do is lovingly invite them to come unto Christ by being an example and by testifying of truth. The Holy Ghost will always accompany a sincere testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Focus on Eternity
Finally, remember that eternal life is the goal. Ultimately, the best way to help a loved one on their journey of faith is to live gospel principles and remember our covenants. Keep in mind that change usually happens over time. It is not our place to rush someone on their faith journey or pressure them to make changes at our pace.
In her recent conference address, Sister Tamara W. Runia shared an experience she had with her parents during a rough patch in high school. She said she saw her mom crying, and at the time, she thought that meant her mom had lost hope that Tamara could change. On the other hand, her father exhibited love and hope for her future.
She said, “He’d learned from experience that worry feels a lot like love, but it’s not the same. He used the eye of faith to see that everything would work out, and his hopeful approach changed me.” She continued, “Everybody needs a cheerleader—someone who isn’t telling you, ‘You’re not running fast enough’; they’re lovingly reminding you that you can.”4
We can be the cheerleader for our loved ones who are going through a faith crisis as we focus on eternity. Always exhibit hope for the future. Let people change and support them as they do.
Stay Strong in the Faith
As you show unconditional love, invite others to come unto Christ, and focus on eternity, you will help those you love while strengthening your own faith. It is never necessary or helpful to sacrifice your own beliefs to help someone who is experiencing a faith crisis. Do everything that you can to strengthen your faith.
In a letter to his daughter Emma, Wilford Woodruff counseled her to focus on scripture study to bless and strengthen her family. He wrote, “What leisure time you have to read, devote it to reading the Bible, Book of Mormon and Covenants, and you will there find those principles and knowledge that you will need to sustain you through and will help you to lead your children in the principles of virtue, righteousness & truth.”5
As we strive to help others, we will receive inspiration and guidance from a loving Father in Heaven by strengthening our own faith in and connection with Him. He will bless us and those we love, and we will lift and strengthen one another.
Lyndie is working toward a degree in Public Relations at Brigham Young University. Originally from Idaho Falls, Idaho, she enjoys running, spending time with her husband and family, and reading. Lyndie served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hermosillo, Mexico, where she developed a love for the Spanish language and the people there. She was drawn to the Wilford Woodruff Papers out of a desire to learn more about Church history and enjoys being part of the organization’s efforts to touch lives with Wilford Woodruff’s words.