Right now I’ve left the Church and want to go back but it’s hard for me to read scriptures and understand their meaning. It’s even harder for me to apply the principles in the Book of Mormon. How do I get past this stump? Thanks.
Thank you for your questions. They obviously matter to you on a very personal level so I will do my best to help where I can. First, I commend you for your desire to return to the Church and hope you will continue to cling to the “light” that is currently nurturing that sentiment and not become discouraged with yourself. For many it is human nature when we see very limited or what we perceive as slow progress to throw our arms up in the air and declare ourselves as failures. Please don’t give up. I pray that you will be patient with yourself and give yourself credit for the steps you have already taken so far.
For someone who discovers the Church and decides to follow the gospel for the very first time, there are unique challenges and changes they might face in their life. For members of the Church who have left and decide that they would like to come back, they too may face many of those same challenges and more. For whatever reason a person decides to leave the church, it usually means upon their return, they are typically not a fresh slate, but rather carry with them some form of personal/spiritual baggage that helped lead them away from the church in the first place.
As you look for a way forward might I offer up the following thoughts:
1. Spiritual Muscles: Similar to our physical muscles, for the moment lets say that we also have Spiritual Muscles as well. When it comes to our physical muscles, if we want to increase our strength, size and endurance we must be committed to some type of an exercise routine. Regardless of a strong desire, unless we are willing to put forth an effort to accomplish this goal, we will not see progress. Healthy muscle development takes time, there are no short cuts. There is no substitute for: hard work, endurance and dedication. While perhaps difficult at first, it does become easier. May I suggest that your Spiritual muscles need to be reconditioned again. Start out easy, lift the light spiritual weights for now. Endurance, increased desire and self confidence will fall into place as you stick to a routine.
2. Recently in General Conference President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a wonderful talk entitled: He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home. The heading reads, “Just as the Good Shepherd finds His lost sheep, if you will only lift up your heart to the Savior of the world, He will find you.” Consider yourself as a recently found lost sheep making your way home again. President Uchtdorf shares:
“Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you “E”… He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears. It matters not how you became lost—whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control. What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He loves His children.”
While it is true that you might have some spiritual/personal baggage from your time away, the Savior loves you and delights in your desire to return to him. The Savior extends this simple invitation to you:
“Turn … to me.” Joel 2:12
“Come unto me.” Matthew 11:28
“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” Doctrine and Covenants 88:63
President Uchtdorf continues:
“This is how we show Him that we want to be rescued. It requires a little faith. But do not despair. If you cannot muster faith right now, begin with hope. If you cannot say you know God is there, you can hope that He is. You can desire to believe. That is enough to start.
Then, acting on that hope, reach out to Heavenly Father. God will extend His love toward you, and His work of rescue and transformation will begin. Over time, you will recognize His hand in your life. You will feel His love. And the desire to walk in His light and follow His way will grow with every step of faith you take.
We call these steps of faith “obedience.”
Please be patient with yourself “E.” The Lord is by your side with open arms. While it is true that you may be feeling this temporary weakness, please remember the promise found in Book of Mormon, Ether 12:27
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
Regarding “Weaknesses becoming Strengths”, I have also shared some previous thoughts here:
How Can a Weakness Become a Strength?
You have all the potential to be made spiritually strong and turn this temporary “stump” into a life long strength instead. Have faith in the Savior and in our Father in Heaven. May you be blessed for your efforts and dedication to develop your spiritual muscles yet once again.