From Bruce C. and Marie K. Hafen and their book ‘Faith is Not Blind.”

When we are young, we tend to think in terms of black or white—there is very little gray in our perspective. And many youth and young adults have a childlike optimism and loyalty that make them wonderfully teachable. They typically trust their teachers, believe what they read, and respond eagerly to invitations for Church service. New adult converts have similar attitudes. Their cheerful spirit and outlook make a refreshing contribution to their wards and branches.

As time goes on, however, our experience with real life often introduces a new dimension—a growing awareness of a gap between the real and the ideal, between what is and what ought to be: . . .  “A distant star, /but not too far / to lure us out into the firmament./ And tho we ne’er may reach it, / we have tried / and in the trying / have learned, perchance / to make an orbit of our own.”4 We stand on the earthly surface of reality, stretching upward toward our lofty ideals. Let’s call the distance between where we are and where we want to be “the gap.”

We first see the gap when we realize that some things about ourselves or about other people are not what we thought they were. For example, even in a Church university that one might expect to be warm and homey, a brand-new student can feel lost and intimidated. Or maybe she brushes up against a faculty member whose attitudes about the Church are more liberal—or more conservative—than she expected.

And when we become acquainted at an adult level with those who have been our heroes, we might begin to see their human limitations. For instance, maybe one of our parents disappoints us in some way. . . . Perhaps we . . . try hard to be obedient and pray for needed help, but the answer doesn’t come in the ways the scriptures seem to promise. As a new missionary we might experience a jarring surprise when moving from exhilarating idealism of the Missionary Training Center to the sometimes perplexing realities of daily life in the mission field. . .

Such experiences can produce an unsettling sense of uncertainty, and we might understandably yearn for simpler, easier times. We might find ourselves becoming a little skeptical, or we may begin to ask questions that haven’t occurred to us before. Not everyone will encounter these things in the same way, but as we grow and increase in our awareness, most of us do run into some uncertainty and opposition.

The fundamental teachings of the restored gospel are potent, clear, and unambiguous. However, even the scriptures contain some ambiguity. Consider, for example the story of Nephi, who was directed to slay Laban in order to obtain a critically important spiritual record. This situation is charged with uncertainty until we realize that God Himself, who gave Moses the commandment not to kill, was also the source of the instruction to Nephi.

Also, the Savior once said,”Do not your alms before men, to be seen of them” (Matthew 6:1). But he also said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works” (Matthew 5:16). Another example—the Lord said He can’t look upon sin with the least degree of allowance (See Doctrine & Covenants 1:31). Yet elsewhere He said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). Justice is indeed a divine law, but so is the law of mercy. At times these two concepts can seem inconsistent, until reconciled by the higher doctrine of the Savior’s Atonement.

God has given us correct principles by which we may govern ourselves, but these very principles may at times seem to be in conflict. Choosing between two principled alternatives (two “goods”) is more difficult than when we see an obvious contrast between good and evil. But learning to make such choices is essential to our spiritual maturity.

Moreover, today’s society is filled with increasing dissonance and conflict on a host of political, cultural, and social issues. People on the extreme sides of questions seem very certain about the right answer. But some people would rather be certain than be right. ~Bruce C. and Marie K. Hafen: Faith is Not Blind (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018), 8-10

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