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One of my favorite things about these chapters in The Book of Mormon is how easy it is to understand how Moroni is feeling. Just as one example…
Mormon 8:5 Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.
Moroni is running out of room on the plates because he doesn’t have any ore, but he still acknowledges his loneliness and loss.
So if you feel loneliness, from being a single parent or a single adult. If you feel loneliness because you carry a secret or burden that you have not chosen to share with someone else. If you’re feeling lonely because you’ve experienced a trial that many people don’t understand or talk about. If you feel loneliness as a result from a mental illness, I hope that we can pull things out of these chapters that will be comforting to you.
For I am alone
As I mentioned previously, Moroni acknowledged his loneliness despite a dwindling supply of resources. He took the time to talk about the hard situation he was experiencing.
Perhaps you’ve had a hard time acknowledging your loneliness to others or even yourself. Perhaps you feel ungrateful when you acknowledge that loneliness because as a single parent, you’ve also witnessed His hand blessing the lives of your children. Perhaps you hesitate to acknowledge the loneliness because as a single adult, it’s really just too hard to acknowledge. Perhaps you don’t acknowledge the loneliness for fear of rejection which may be even more painful than loneliness. Perhaps you’re in a relationship with a family member that is unfulfilling and difficult. Perhaps you don’t acknowledge the loneliness because your life is incredibly blessed and full, and you feel ungrateful when you acknowledge it.
Acknowledge it even if it’s just in a journal. ESPECIALLY acknowledge it in prayer. I picture Moroni weeping as he wrote about losing his family, his entire people, any system of society he had ever known. I wonder how long it took him to write about losing his loved ones. I wonder how long he carried the plates without being able to write the words because of the grief he was experiencing.
If you can talk about it, you can bear it. Perhaps Moroni sometimes felt that he should have saved the space for “more important things.” Perhaps Moroni sometimes felt like he should be more grateful that he had survived, received visits from the three Nephites, and that he had been given such a sacred responsibility to protect the plates.
Please come to the understanding that you can acknowledge trial, difficulty, and loneliness while remaining grateful and hopeful. In fact, it is usually in the acknowledgement of such things to our Heavenly Father in prayer that we find that relief we’re so desperately wishing for.
Sometimes even in acknowledgement, the pain will remain and feel unbearable, but allow yourself room to feel the bad. Part of experiencing this life was to experience the bad. Don’t withhold that experience from yourself.
I know not
Moroni 8:5 …how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not.
This may not seem like a comforting doctrine at first, but if we examine it further, it is.
Moroni was a good and righteous man, entrusted with important responsibilities. But the Lord did not see fit to give him any reasons or promises answers. Every day, he would need to prepare and hide the plates in case he was killed and every day, he would need to prepare in case he lived for a great many more years. In our world, it would seem like the logical thing to do to give him a heads up.
In all honesty, I don’t know the reason you may have been given specific trials and there is a very high likelihood that you don’t understand either. Perhaps your trial is more final, like the loss of a loved one but the fact remains that you don’t fully understand why they were taken from you. Perhaps your trial is more uncertain like not receiving the blessing of getting married or having a child yet. You don’t know if it will change or if that will be your ultimate lot in life. And even still, there are other trials where you feel a sense of darkness and you only know the next step. You don’t know where He’s leading or whether you’re even following Him right; all you’ve been given is a next tiny step.
Moroni didn’t know, and a great majority of the time, we will not know. That is the doctrine I’m pulling out here. The Lord works in patterns, and one of those patterns is establishing a relationship of trust. Sometimes that trust is brought about because we have no other choice in life but to trust Him.
Learning to trust that He’s leading us along helps us learn to trust the Atonement and its ability to save us. Learning to lean on Him for lack of a better option helps us learn to lean on the Atonement.
It may not seem merciful of Him to keep us in the dark about so many things, but it would be far less merciful to let us think we can be independent of Him. The Atonement is the only way to live with our Father in Heaven again; we might as well be aware of our dependence now.
Moroni was not given knowledge about how long he would live, but he was given other knowledge.
Mormon 8:34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.
You may not receive a direct answer about your trial, but there are many things we can learn from the Lord in the meantime that can help us know we’re still on the right path. When you’ve asked and asked and pleaded with the Lord for answers, and He isn’t giving any, try asking a different question. And I’m not talking about a different question regarding your trial.
Silence from heaven can be a painful trial in and of itself. Moroni was alone without any particular knowledge about his life, but he did have a testimony of the Lord because he was still receiving revelation in other areas. He knew that the Lord still cared even if He had His purposes.
Testimony of Christ
Mormon 9:21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.
It’s interesting to watch Moroni progress over these chapters. He starts with his trials and loneliness, speaks of revelation and prophecies, and then he testifies that God is a God of miracles. Despite the destruction of his people and loss of his family, he is able to testify that God can perform miracles.
And that really is the end-all. When it comes down to it, God is aware of us and loves us. Everything He is moving in your life right now is for you even if it doesn’t feel that way.
To many, those words may seem hollow and insufficient to combat the pain and loneliness they’ve been experiencing. Really, it’s only going to help you if you come to that testimony for yourself.
This past week, I faced a couple of small challenges that always leave a small pit in my stomach. It causes me to question and wonder and ask. As I turned to the scriptures to try and get rid of that small pit in my stomach, I realized that it had been a long time since I had prayed for a testimony regarding the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon, and consequently, its many testimonies of Christ.
Promises of comfort and and soul-sustaining sustenance feel like platitudes until the Spirit tells them to you, and the only way for the Spirit to testify of those things is for you to pray, ask, and invite. Even answers regarding the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon may take time to reveal themselves, but when they do, clinging to those promises will be what sustains you through any loneliness or trial.