Faith, grace, love, prayer, strength. I’ve come to better understand these topics over the past year because of a dear friend. A friend who, in fact, is not of my Mormon faith. Her faith has strengthened mine, and I hope mine has strengthened hers in some way.
Several months before meeting her, I had an important, preparatory insight. My husband invited a friend over from school who had recently become a Christian in another faith; this friend had prayed to God to know if Christ was real and received what he felt was an affirmative answer to His prayer. As he explained his experience, I was reminded that God answers everyone’s prayers, no matter the religion.
There are absolute truths that God imparts to our spirits, no matter who we are. God loves all His children and blesses all with spiritual experiences that are intended to help guide each person back home to Him. That love and those spiritual experiences come whether you are Mormon, Catholic, Born-Again Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, etc., or even if you do not claim any faith.
It should be noted that I do believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be God’s true church on the Earth today, restored as the same church Christ established while on the Earth. That belief, however, does not preclude me from gleaning valuable insights from the perspectives of other religious people. I’ll not criticize you for believing differently from me. Rather, I am strengthened as I try to see things from another perspective—in fact, I need that and crave that. Most importantly, I feel strengthened from the support and camaraderie that comes from other people of faith.
I have learned that when we stop contending with other religions about who is “right” and begin building each other up by sharing our faith-filled experiences and working together for the common good, everyone benefits. Society at large benefits. I believe a community of faith, even if diverse, is a force for good and morality in an increasingly hostile world of selfishness, militant atheism, and moral relativism.
Faith is not a crutch to fall back on out of weakness. Instead, faith has been an anchor to me, steadying and strengthening me through life. Faith in God has helped me—among other things—overcome depression, start a family, endure NICU-related sorrow and heartache, pursue intimidating goals in the face of adversity, and look forward with hope to the unknown future.
I am grateful for interfaith efforts such as interfaith dialogues (e.g., a Catholic and Mormon students lunch-n-learn I attended recently, bible studies open to all denominations, the Vatican Summit, etc.), faith-promoting websites like Faith Counts, and faith-based relief and humanitarian agencies. These causes strengthen the faith of all religious people, enabling them to better face the challenges of life and to affect society in positive ways. We have much to learn from each other and much to gain from our ties.
The following quote from the MormonNewsroom.org website summarizes this idea nicely: “The spiritual and physical needs of the world require goodwill and cooperation among different faiths. Each of them makes a valuable contribution to the larger community of believers. In the words of early Church apostle Orson F. Whitney, ‘God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous, for any one people.’ Thus, members of the Church do not view fellow believers around the world as adversaries or competitors, but as partners in the many causes for good in the world…People of good faith do not need to have the exact same beliefs in order to accomplish great things in the service of their fellow human beings.” (For more information, please see this page of the Mormon Newsroom website.)
Some may read this and ask, “So does one need to be a person of faith in order to make a positive difference in the world?” Not necessarily – that is not the point. Rather, the take-away is that people of faith must stick together to support the very existence of faith and religious freedom. Faith is strength, and we are stronger together.