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Op-ed: To avoid pain, Kirby, don’t confuse faith and religion

By Ashley Morales

First Published Jul 18 2014 04:26 pm • Last Updated Jul 18 2014 04:26 pm

Oh, darn. You caught me ("Kirby: How much pain does your faith cause?" July 12). I’m among your target audience. Thanks for calling me an idiot, by the way. You sure showed me a thing or two about compassion.

Mind if my idiotic self gives her two cents, or shall I tell my sense of reason to "shut up and sit in the back"?

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You referred to "faith" as a synonym for "religion," but I will refer to it as the belief that God knows what He’s doing.

I have faith that a loving Heavenly Father has a beautiful plan that He wants us to follow because it will make Him happy to see us as happy as He is. If being a good person were enough to get there, we would have no need for our church. It’s like women explaining that being a "nice guy" is a prerequisite for dating, not a special characteristic that should seal the deal. Of course you’re expected to be a good person, but is that it? I don’t apologize for believing that there’s a purpose for goodness that is only fully realized through diligent adherence to commandments and ordinances given to us by God specifically to help us reach our huge potential and discover the amazing, eternal context into which we can put our hard-earned goodness.

I also have faith that the Lord will judge us according to what we did with what we genuinely understood. As Stephen Robison said in Believing Christ, the Lord measures growth, not height. So I also have faith that some people who reject or leave the church will still have eternal families and celestial glory. If they can prove in mortality that they are capable of progressing at all, then they’ll probably be able to accept the gospel eventually. The Lord is very merciful.

But some people just won’t accept it. Ever. I have no idea how the Lord will know the difference between these people, but I have faith that He will.

So yes, I try not to worry about which category my loved ones fall into because I believe that there is hope and the Lord will make sure everything works out.

I also believe that my baby daughter will not die of SIDS. That doesn’t stop me from getting up once or twice in the night and during her naps just to check that she’s still breathing.

I also believe that my husband will come home from work in one piece every day. That doesn’t stop me from praying for his safe return.

My beliefs don’t stop me from worrying about the people I love who don’t believe that God has something more in mind for them than just being wonderful.

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Sometimes my beliefs indirectly cause me pain in that sense, but that’s not faith. It’s fear. Faith is that warm feeling in my heart that tells me everything will be OK. Yes, my worry has sometimes caused pain for my loved ones, too. But we realize that we are different. Both my faith and my worry come from love, and their forgiveness for my shortcomings comes from love because, yes, they are wonderful. Our love for each other helps us to forgive, accept, and keep hoping for something better.

My loved ones don’t think I’m an idiot. They believe that I am better than my flaws. I believe the same of them.

This is love.

And this is real faith —the thing that heals and liberates us from pain, not the thing that causes it.

And don’t you ever call me or others like me an idiot again. You have no right.

Ashley Morales is a lifelong Mormon living in Spokane, Wash.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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