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How do you deal with doubt? Jon Schmidt, Robert Millet respond

As long as we are able to think, we will probably have questions, whether about climate change or about the restored gospel. But what about doubts? To doubt is to waver or fluctuate, to fear, to be apprehensive of, to distrust. Doubt is clearly a more serious form of questioning, a potentially more harmful one. In recent years, it has become quite popular for people to celebrate doubt, encourage it, even suggest that we must pass through doubt before we can come to faith. This point of view is foreign to the teachings of the prophets. In scripture, doubt is something to deal with, to resolve, to overcome, even avoid (see Matthew 14:31; 21:21; Luke 12:29; Alma 57:26; Helaman 5:49; Mormon 9:21; Doctrine and Covenants 6:36; 58:29).

If I have doubts about some Church historical or doctrinal matter, what should I do? First, the Latter-day Saints have been charged to “search diligently, pray always, and be believing” (Doctrine and Covenants 90:24) — to do our homework, to take the matter to our Heavenly Father in prayer and to view our problem through the eyes of faith rather than the eyes of doubt. The “Gospel Topics” essays at lds.org might be especially helpful.

Second, never hesitate to consult faithful members of the Church who have expertise in doctrine or history. Ask them your questions. Never assume that because you don’t understand, no one does.

Finally, let memory be your friend: reflect on those moments that mattered, on meaningful spiritual experiences that have, through the years, grounded and shaped you. If the restored gospel was true then, it is true today. Hold on, exercise “patience and faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:5), and in time the voice of the Spirit will reaffirm “This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

­— Robert L. Millet is professor emeritus of religious education at Brigham Young University.

(My wife) Michelle and I have experienced so many miracles, and when you go through stuff that makes you doubt, or when you encounter things that really challenge you and bring doubts to the surface, it’s been really important for us to focus on the evidences and the miracles in our family and the answered prayers. In times when you feel like your prayers aren’t being answered or heard, it’s really good to remember times when you felt like they were. … I’ve had several (experiences) that are just undeniable; where you know the Lord reached out to you. … And whenever you have a miracle, or whenever you feel like you got a special answer to a prayer, it’s important to write it down and record it.

— Jon Schmidt is a musician, composer and member of The Piano Guys.

The words of the apostle Paul mirror my own spiritual journey: “I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13).

I, too, do not comprehend all things. But when doubt looms, I lean upon my anchors — those simple moments when the Spirit has borne witness of a truth or of God’s all-encompassing love. These moments steady me. And sometimes the “one thing I do” is to just keep leaning forward.

— Julie Dockstader Heaps, a former Church News staff writer, is a full-time mother.

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