Something has been weighing on my heart. I see it all around me—in my friends, family, neighbors, and many people I respect.
I see people leave their faith.
And perhaps, it stirs within me a similar question: why do I choose to believe?
There are a lot of questions we ask ourselves about our faith when someone we love chooses to leave their faith. Do I belong to my church just because my parents did? Do I keep going just to avoid shame from the community? Do I believe all the doctrines of this church? Can I accept the imperfect past of my religion?
I had a long conversation with some family members through the night about why we believe. (A good, deep conversation keeps you up like nothing else.) Everybody’s reasons were different but each so profound. Answers were these:
I believe because I want to see my friend again—my friend who committed suicide. I want to believe in an afterlife.
I believe because I’ve been an atheist before—I know what it feels like not to believe.
I believe because it feels right.
I believe because it makes me feel happy.
I believe because I choose to.
I believe because I want to be weird.
I believe because of how I feel when I serve other people.
I believe because of how I feel when I teach lessons.
I believe because of the joy I feel when telling others about the gospel.
I believe because of Jesus Christ. When we talk about Him, the Spirit is there. It changes the feeling of conversations when we speak about Him.
I believe because it gives us hope.
I believe because of the Spirit I feel as I read the Scriptures—the peace and hope I feel. When I do things that are right, I feel different.
As I searched my own heart, I wrote down pages and pages of thoughts. Why do I believe?
I believe because I can feel it.
I believe because I want my family to be solid. Because I’ve seen the fruits of what has come before in parents and grandparents whose choices paved the way for a solid foundation.
I believe because I want to be a better person.
I believe because I am human. I know I am nothing—finite.
I believe because I feel there is more to life.
I believe because I see happiness all around. The gospel brings peace.
I believe because of the miracles I see—our body, this earth, our experiences, human connections, and personal revelation.
I believe because I see the beauty of a group of people coming to church and trying to be better.
I believe because religion is an effective vehicle in guiding our return to our beloved Heavenly Father.
I believe because I’ve always believed. Because my parents and teachers taught my heart to be a little more tender.
I believe because my heart knows it. I believe because I can feel the tender tugs of the Spirit that testify of the truth so my soul remembers things it knew before.
Hearts yearn to remember where we came from. We yearn to fulfill our life missions and to feel love and acceptance.
Deep down, we remember we had something great, so pure and happy and wonderful. We can feel it and want it back. We want to return to our Heavenly Father.
There is something within us—powerful, yet still soft at the same time—that tells us there is something more than this life. Unexplainable, and yet, somehow comforting, something that stills the noise of the world and gently reaffirms truths.
As a historian, I studied civilizations that have come before. Every single one had a religion and a way they tried to explain why they were here and what their purpose was.
I find it fascinating: How many billions of souls throughout time have looked heavenward and hoped for something more?
This thing—this one feeling—compels me forward. There is something more.
There is something calling us home.
One final thought on what strengthens our belief—each other.
I believe because of you.
We were put on this earth together. God could have created a world for each of us and tested us in different ways, but we were put here together. Why?
Why are we put in families?
Why do we marry?
Why do we have children?
Why do we do missionary work?
Why do we pray together? Sing together? Worship together?
Why do we come to church together?
Why do we aspire to build Zion, a people of one heart and of one mind?
We came to this earth to experience it together. There is nothing more profound than the connection of one soul to another. We can lift our hearts together. We can be believers together.
To summarize and return to this question, Why do we believe? Why do I choose to stay in this church?
The answer is so personal to each of us. As I’ve read and studied, I found we should search inside ourselves.
That yearning for something more is the gentle way God speaks to us. And that spark can fuel the fire of belief.
That yearning leads us to believe and thus act in ways that will help us return to the embrace of our heavenly parents.
Return to that fire again and again and again to feel the strength and confidence wax strong in your belief.
You do know the truth. You do know your church. You do know your faith. You do know what God wants for your life.
And then you will believe because you know.
The gospel brings peace, love, and purpose. Our lives are better because of it.