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.