I’ve had a belief that God stops healing/success and hurts us if we don’t repent. Logically I know “he is love”. But what about the Lamenites? And the Egyptians? He loved them equally, yet hurt them. But he also warned them, did he not? It’s just making it a little difficult to want to be human and Mormon if I feel like I can’t even trust my most loving dad. I’ve been working on this emotionally for a long time, but I also purposely sin to see if he’s going to hurt me. It’s eating me up.
When I read your questions, I thought of a talk by Wendy Ulrich, PhD that she gave a a FairMormon conference. She talked about our spiritual blindness and how we all have blindspots, due to past experiences that color how we see the world, the Church, and God. I feel this is likely the case for you. I mean that past experiences are creating the “lens” through which you see God, and that lens is incorrect. in other words, you have a blind spot. You are not alone, we all have blind spots. Sis. Ulrich talks about the the blind spot the Pharisees had. Imagine, they had the PRIVILEGE of being, walking and talking with the Savior while He was on the earth, but they couldn’t see it for the blessing that it was. Instead they saw him as, “A blasphemous, demonic, sabbath-breaker doing magic tricks to mislead people. Their blindness to their blindness led them to condemn and crucify him instead of seek him out for healing and sight. Not being able or willing to see our blindness prevents us from seeking the corrective lenses and healing surgeries we need as well. For example, we might not see how our experience on a high school basketball team , is skewing our view of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Or how our relationship with an emotionally distant mother causes us to misperceive our stake president. We may be blind to the ways we choose the questions we ignore and the questions we think matter, or the options we can think of for answering those questions. Our spiritual and emotional blindness alters our vision of God and affects our relationships with one another.”
I highly recommend her talk to you. You can read it at that link or at the bottom of that page there are links to Youtube.
A couple of my own thoughts on this . . . I don’t know if you are a parent, but even if you are not, you have surely observed other parents and children. Children, like adults, have different personalities and what works for one may not work for another. One of my children was a very sensitive child who needed almost no correction. A stern look was rebuke enough to make him apologize and try harder. Other required more typical types of correction. Some children rebel and resist even the most loving and wise parents, and need the sternest correction of all.
God is the perfect parent. He knows the needs of each of His children. He loves us and wants us to return to Him. So if you are one of His children who needs only a “stern look” to repent and strive to do better, then that is what you will receive. He reserves His serious corrections for those in greatest need, and at those times, only uses it with the goal to help them return to Him.
For the most part, I don’t think He punishes us, He allows natural consequences to do that. For example, if a teenager violates the Law of Chastity and ends up pregnant, is that a punishment or a natural consequence? A child is not a punishment. Getting pregnant is a natural consequence of having sex. I believe some of God’s commandments are intended to help us avoid pain. If we would live the Law of Chastity, we would not have to worry about becoming pregnant outside of marriage and (as long as our spouse is faithful) we never need to worry about sexually transmitted diseases, or the emotional pain of a one-night stand.
When we commit sin the Spirit withdraws from us, but is that a punishment or a natural consequence? Again I think it is a natural consequence. By sinning, we are making the choice to move away from God. He didn’t move away from us, we move away from Him. And like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, He is still there where we left Him, waiting to greet us with open and loving arms when we choose to return to Him.
I wonder also, Shayla, if you are mistaking weakness for sin. Sis. Wendy Ulrich wrote an article (and a book) about this subject as well. She said:
“We cannot simply repent of being weak—nor does weakness itself make us unclean. We cannot grow spiritually unless we reject sin, but we also do not grow spiritually unless we accept our state of human weakness, respond to it with humility and faith, and learn through our weakness to trust in God. When Moroni fretted about the weakness of his writing, God did not tell him to repent. Instead, the Lord taught him to be humble and to have faith in Christ. As we are meek and faithful, God offers grace—not forgiveness—as the remedy for weakness. Grace is an enabling power from God to do what we cannot do on our own (see Bible Dictionary, “Grace”)—the appropriate godly remedy by which He can “make weak things become strong.” It Isn’t a Sin to be Weak
I highly recommend you read that talk as well. Finally, Shayla, I share with you my witness that God loves you with a love that is greater than you can imagine right now. Christ suffered and died because He loves you so much. He didn’t do that just so He could turn around and punish you. He wants to be part of your life, and to fill your heart with peace and joy! He is at the door knocking, but you have to let Him in.