“Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.”
Doctrine & Covenants 93:24
Today I want to go back to basics. First, let’s start with “things as they are.” Sounds easy enough, but our brains like to deceive us. Our minds are amazing tools that process and do their best to make sense of information. Often we tell ourselves stories to synthesize observations and fit them into the beliefs and concepts we’ve previously developed.
In regards to having your husband leave the church, I’ve heard many of the following sentences, “My husband doesn’t believe in the church anymore. He doesn’t support me and the kids in the gospel. He’s lost his testimony. Things were so much easier before. This isn’t the life I signed up for.” Our mind tells us these are just observations – that we are only reporting the facts.
What our minds tell us are “just the facts” are, in fact, lots of thoughts. We can examine our “facts” with some clarifying questions. What does it mean to “believe in the church”? How do you know if someone “believes”? To what extent does your spouse have to do what you think is correct to prove that he “believes”? What does it mean to “support” you? When do you know that you’ve received “support”? How does your husband know he’s given “support”? What is a testimony? How do you know when your husband has one or doesn’t? How were things “easier” before? What does it mean to be “easier”? How are things “easier” now? What makes you think things are “harder” now? What life did you sign up for? How do you know? How will you know when you have achieved the “life you signed up for”?
All those questions are just to show that what we think are “just the facts” are, in fact, lots of thoughts. So how do we get to the truth of “things as they are”? I suggest we start by separating the facts from the story. If you break your situation down to the most basic facts, what are they? What are the observations upon which everyone could agree?
I took the sentences from the previous example and created a fact that could be the root of the story you are telling. Yours may be different; these are just examples.
Thought: “My husband doesn’t believe in the church anymore “
Fact: My husband said, “I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet.”
Thought: “He doesn’t support me and the kids in the gospel.”
Fact: My husband no longer chooses to be in the room when I get the children together to study Come Follow Me.
Thought: “He’s lost his testimony.”
Fact: My husband no longer pays tithing.
Thought: “Things were so much easier before.”
Fact: Before my husband stopped getting up for church, he would dress the two youngest on Sunday morning.
Thought: “This isn’t the life I signed up for.”
Fact: I tell my husband at least once a day that I don’t like that he doesn’t go to church with me.
Question the thoughts you think. Consider if they are facts or your “version” of the facts. This week, write your story. Then re-write it using just the facts. Each fact has to be observable by others. Each point will have no adjectives. Your husband is not “a jerk,” or “irresponsible,” or “a slacker.” You can only describe things on which everyone could agree. Once you have the facts, we can deal with things as “they really are.” More on that next week.