Author Archives: Elisa Parry

The Truth

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What is good? What is beautiful? Is it universal? Or is it relative to the beholder?

I have been given a lot of advice from concerned associates. I believe they are trying to do good. But the good they are doing creates pressure. It makes me ask questions of myself: am I trying hard enough? Have I overlooked something? Am I beyond redemption? I think those are mostly constructive questions, but I do not think most people know how every amount of spare energy I have is already devoted to finding those answers.

People want to fix me. They want there to be an easy solution. So do I. I have been focusing on the word “hope” for the last while. I can get on board with the principle of hope.

Prayer could help me, reading scriptures could help me, attending the temple could help me, bearing testimony, getting priesthood blessings, serving others, focusing on the things I know, keeping my covenants, following principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, fasting, attending my church meetings could help me. I have hope that centering my family around principles that I feel have served me well in my life is worthwhile. I hope that I will see my dad again. I hope that no matter how lost I may feel that there might still be something to find. Maybe those things will help me feel the spirit again. Maybe they will make me feel justified in my efforts. I hope they will bring the faith or confidence that my hope is in the right place. I hope that I can discern that they are true.

These days I feel like I have a new brain and new eyes and everything is unfamiliar. I feel like I am an infant in this world. Everything I have known seems to be floating away, like dandelion clocks floating in the breeze. It seems so easy to retrieve them before they are gone forever. Just as I reach my hands out to grab one they are whooshed away by my act of trying to grasp them. At times it seems like I catch the feathery orbs, only to find that I have crushed them.

My hope lies in my desire for there to be a truth to find. One to be loyal to and to strive for. So what is good? What is beauty? Does it end at that? Is it unique from person to person? Or is there a unknown spiritual element that ultimately guides us to good, to beauty, to the Truth. That is what I am hoping for. I do not know if I can find it. But how can I have faith if I don’t discern Truth?


Brighter days

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A little light seems to be creeping back into my life. When the sun rises earlier and earlier in the mornings and shines bright during the day it gets under my skin and I feel more hopeful. I feel like I could believe again in a God. I can imagine something bigger than this world, orchestrating its grandeur. Perhaps it is because spring feels a little like magic and in the past I have attributed that magic to deity. Then again, maybe it is because I take a white happy pill everyday after being forgetful the few weeks before.

Last night during family scriptures we read Moroni 7 in the Book of Mormon. In my youth that chapter contained what unlocked my understanding of how the spirit spoke to me. Paraphrased: Everything good or enticeth to do good is of Christ everything that leads away from good is of the devil. I forgot that I was left to my own judgment of what was good or bad my whole life. I have always struggled to discern the Spirit in my life. Those scriptures helped me take responsibility for what came into my life regardless of my feeling deaf to the Spirit.

My means for spiritual guidance really hasn’t changed. I still ponder something over and choose what I think leads to the greater good based on principals of growth, kindness, love and hope for a brighter day. But now I lack confidence. I doubt my judgment. I doubt my wisdom. I doubt my purpose. I doubt the brighter day exists.

I am surprised at how easy it is to carry on the same as before. I still use the same gauge for my decisions. I am doing all of the same things I did before when I believed they would strengthen me, heal me, edify me and do the same for those around me. I still believe that the results of the life I have lived and the decisions I have made have been basically good. But the why is different now.

I still live my former beliefs because I think they elicited more help than harm (not the most rave review). I do it because it surrounds me with a supportive community that wants the sames things I do. I live it because I feel the principles taught lead to greater character, success and happiness. I teach it to my children for the same reasons. I strive for it because it promises the things that I long for and hope for. I fight for it because, if it is true, it is worth the fight.

Actually, I guess the why is still about the same. The one difference is that my reasons for continuing on deal more with the present rather than fueling my understanding of life’s purpose or as a means to bring me to the brighter day after my mortal life. It has morphed the gospel into something good for the here and now instead of from the beginning to the end–because I don’t know what that means anymore.

A Pebble of Gravel

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I can’t properly express what has been going on the last few months with me. I’ll try.

I never really reached a comfortable state when we were in London. I always felt unsettled. Sure, it got better after we had been there awhile, but my guard was always up. Church was stressful rather than edifying. I never found a good rhythm for myself. I was troubled about my dad’s health.

With another international move, all the upheaval, all the change, huge life transitions, my dad’s death I have really been put through the ringer. My reserves of strength– emotionally, mentally, spiritually– have all been tapped. I am at the bottom of those reserves. I have been very sensitive, vulnerable, fragile. I am not taking the hits well.

Shortly after we moved to London I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. It’s main theme was tapping into the faith that I knew I once had. I was having a hard time feeling the spirit. I wanted to. I was holding firm to the fact that I had had spiritual experiences in the past that I was then relying on when I felt less connected with heaven. This wasn’t a new experience for me. I have had several times in my life that I had to rely on the fiery testimony I had before but didn’t feel at the time. But more than a year was a long time to feel that distance.

Then I lost my dad and I really had to put that faith to the test. It isn’t testing well. Even Christ said to God, “Why hast Thou forsaken me?” Even Christ felt alone. But I am not a demi-God. Why am I being left alone? The foundations of my faith in heaven and earth have shaken. Have I been telling myself stories my whole life? Were those good feelings just placebo chemical reactions. Did I just want it all to be true so badly that I made it so for myself? Will I ever see my dad again? Is there really a God? Does he really care about me? Because I am being left alone with this more than I can bear. I am tired of just surviving. And I am not even sure I know what the purpose of me surviving is for anymore.

I wonder whether this fantastic story about Joseph Smith is true. And if it isn’t–oh God!- if it isn’t?! then my family was fragmented growing up for nothing. My dad didn’t get to see his sons and daughter get married, one of the most special moments in his life, for nothing. I went far away during his most trying time for NOTHING. How could he possibly know how much I loved him when I chose so many times a faith, that is abandoning me now, over him?! For all I know, this weeping is for nothing. I have found myself contemplating alternatives that never once entered my logical explanation of how things work. Maybe Dad is gone for good. Maybe this life is all there is. Maybe I am alone. Maybe my ‘blessings’ are the result of natural consequences and a imposed frame of reference. Maybe my life has been a calculated sum of the choices I have made, absent of tender mercies and divine intervention.

People who have said the Gospel helps us so much when we face the death of a loved one or other staggering trials have not experienced these depths like I am. Or maybe they have. Maybe the foundation I had built my testimony on, “the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God” is helping me not fall. I am hoping with some time and patience I’ll be able to see that I had to build foundation on that Rock not because house was going to take a hit but because the foundation was. Maybe that foundation needed to be the Rock so that as it chipped away with each blow there could still be something left–even if it was just a pebble of gravel.

I want so much to believe and be strengthened by the faith that supported me for years. We are praying as a family we are doing amazing at reading scriptures as a family. We are attending our meetings and attending the temple. I was doing better at personal prayer and scriptures before (I could always be better) but now I am afraid. Afraid the next time I really pray alone, I’ll find out once and for all that I am alone. And I can’t be alone in this. I CAN’T. My ward knows (I bore my testimony? last month about my desire to believe and my commitment to live the gospel in the hopes I will feel its truth again). I have received a tremendous amount of support. Chad has given me blessings. I just feel so desperate. I will do anything Heavenly Father wants me to. I am trying to. But I am getting so tired. I am grasping at strings. I feel like I can’t trust myself.

Thanks for giving  me a safe place to pour out my tortured thoughts. I apologize for overwhelming you with all of this. Unfortunately, no one can fix this for me. No one can give me answers that I haven’t actively taught others before while I was a missionary. But if you could keep loving me from afar and think of me when you pray I would be grateful and humbled and honored.