Often, when seated in my office with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I hear questions and statements such as: “Why doesn’t God love me? Why do I not receive the blessings that are promised when I strive so hard to be obedient? Why does it feel like I am being punished when others are blessed? I try so hard to do what I know is right, and yet nothing seems to change; why? Why can’t I get past or over these feelings of depression and/or anxiety? Is there something wrong with me? Why does it feel like God is not listening when I have done all that I know how to do? Why, if God is so powerful, does He not bring the changes into my life that I desire and so desperately need?” With each of these heartfelt questions expressed in desperation and defeat, the next phrase I hear, more often than not, is this: “I must be doing something wrong. I am just not good enough.” It is as if this anguished response expresses a logical answer to their questions.
Such questions bring tears to my eyes when they are answered with the concluding statement “something must be wrong; I am just not good enough.” As I listen and seek to empathize with those experiencing years or months of penetrating hurt, my spirit is saddened hearing such defeating conclusions. There are many heartaches and disappointments in the lives of members of the Church that have left them feeling lost, alone, misunderstood, confused, and pleading for answers.
Together, as we take time to talk about the deep-seated disappointments of life, it becomes clear that there is a misunderstanding regarding when and how gospel blessings are received in this life. This misunderstanding contributes to feelings of loneliness, confusion, desperation, insecurity, and hopelessness. For example, on occasion those clarifying their hurts to me will quote the scripture, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say there is no promise.” Intently focused on the concluding line of that scripture, they might offer an interpretation saying something like, “See, right there it proves it. If I was good enough then the Lord would bless me.” To this interpretation I respond, “No, I am not sure that’s what it says, but I do think that together we can perhaps discover what is intended by this scripture, while working toward a deeper understanding of what is good enough.” While it is true God is bound to us through covenants and promises, nowhere does that scripture mention a time frame of promised blessings or what package they might appear in. In addition, God could be filling our lives with promised blessings that we have yet to recognize.
I next encourage the person in my office to join me in a discussion on the gospel topic of God’s great merciful love. God’s love applies to the concept of agency because it lifts burdens while magnifying the power of truth and self-acceptance. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it is possible for the person in my office to gain the understanding that when they are striving to do all that they can, then they are trusted and they are good enough. Feeling good enough can be realized, regardless of whether sought-after and prayed-for blessings are not received.
In truth, being good enough does not mathematically equate to daily direct deposits in the form of financial gain, direct healing from physical ailments, or limited emotional struggle. In fact, some of these wishes may never be granted in this life. An answer to a pleading prayer may come in the form of the ability to continue the journey with trust that, in God’s due time, all will be right. In our Heavenly Father’s ever watchful eyes, all is noted and all will be in order over the years and eternities to come. We may never be rich, or trouble free, or look a certain way, hold certain callings, or be released from certain physical and/or emotional ailments. All of these experiences are part of this mortal life.