Guest Post: Things Which are Not Seen, Which are True

By Olivia Meikle

As a graduate student studying English literature, I enjoy taking words and phrases apart to find the hidden meanings inside. A few years ago I was reading a scripture very familiar to many of us and had a startling experience. In Alma 32:21 we are taught that “if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” Throughout my life I’ve taken that line to mean that people with faith HOPE for things THAT ARE DEFINITELY TRUE, but which they can’t see. Frankly, this scripture has always bothered me. If people who have faith hope for things that are true, that’s great, but how do you know which things are true that you should have faith in? It’s a circular logic pattern that has always left me frustrated. But a few years ago as I was deconstructing that sentence another possible meaning suddenly struck me. What if having faith can mean that you hope that there ARE things that are true, that we cannot see? What if faith can be based just on the belief that there is more truth yet to come?

This idea blew that verse wide open for me, leaving so much more space for a hopeful faith, which doesn’t have to know, and doesn’t even really have to know exactly what it hopes for. Because the very basis of faith, of course, is in uncertainty. You can’t have faith in something that you know for sure. If faith can be based on a hope that something more is yet to come, then faith is much more accessible. Faith really can become a choice. I can CHOOSE to believe that there is something to believe in. And I can leave space for others to have a different experience than I do.

This reading makes that scripture so much more meaningful for me. A faith that believes in more to come, in continuing and eternal progress and revelation, is one that I connect to very deeply. I might struggle with many aspects of church doctrine or policy, but my faith can remain grounded in the belief that God is not finished with us yet. Our Heavenly Parents are always waiting, ready to give us all more light, more truth, more knowledge, whenever we are ready for it, and my faith will remain firm in the hope that there are many beautiful things which are not seen, which are true.

Olivia Meikle is a graduate student in English and Women’s Studies. She is a writer, reader, mother and wife, and author of Around the World in 80 Diapers, a website devoted to encouraging parents to travel the world with their children.

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9 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    “What if having faith can mean that you hope that there ARE things that are true, that we cannot see? What if faith can be based just on the belief that there is more truth yet to come?”

    I love this. I agree that the standard reading of the verse is circular and frustrating. But your interpretation makes more sense to me, and resonates too. I like the idea of faith being open ended like this. This reading of the verse makes faith more accessible to me. And I love your vision of Heavenly Parents waiting to rain down light and truth on us. Thank you!

  2. spunky says:

    Yes! I have always found that they key ingredient of “hope” within that verse to be the thing that it all hinged upon. I love that you have brought to light that it is a choice to have faith– that is true for me in many ways. Thanks for this lovely post!

  3. Jolie Griffin says:

    I had a similar experience a few years ago, and have found that the idea that I choose faith gives me strength. I was made Primary President this past year, and we are now preparing for the next year. The theme is Choose the Right, and we are adding a little subtitle for our ward. Our theme will be Choose the Right: Choose Faith. I want to plant the little seed in these minds that testimony doesn’t descend upon us passively, nor will it remain unchallenged. But we can choose faith, if we want faith.

  4. Heather says:

    So beautiful. Thank you.

  5. Cruelest Month says:

    Your post has me thinking on what it means to belong to a “faith community” -particularly if I substitute hope for faith. Hope community. I like the idea of my faith community being the people with which I share hope in common.

  6. Olea says:

    Yes, I love this. When faith means “agreeing with these specific ideas”, it can feel stultifying. When faith means “listening with hope”, it’s so elevating and refreshing and full of love.

    I will choose faith today 🙂

  7. M says:

    Just what I needed. Thanks Olivia, I love this!

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