In his book "Doubt Your Doubts", Chad P. Conrad breaks down what he feels are the vital components of a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ - Experience, Reason, the Spirit, and Choice. I was excited to come across this as I have been thinking for a while about the place choice plays in testimony and conversion.
Conrad states, "When my experience, my intellect, or the Spirit failed to solve my problems the way I want now, I have the choice of believing and living the life of a faithful Saint anyway."
Why is choosing to believe so important?
As long as we live in this mortal world there will never be conclusive evidence that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. We can feel the Spirit, we can have miraculous experiences, we can be exposed to evidence that could be interpreted as proof, we could even have God appear to us in a dream, but we still need to choose to believe.
Are there elements of the gospel I do not understand? Are there events in church history that confuse me? Have church leaders made statements that do are not conducive with how I see the gospel? Are there decisions the church makes I don't agree with? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
But, I believe strongly that there is a god and he is my Heavenly Father. I believe that the Bible and Book of Mormon are inspired writings. I believe that despite being imperfect the leaders of our church only have our best interests at heart. And I believe with all my heart that living the principles Jesus Christ and his church teach make my life better. Because I believe all of these things I can choose to believe that those pieces of the puzzle I cannot currently find a fit for will one day make sense.
I recognize that this choice to believe is easier for some than for others, but ultimately all those who wish to follow Jesus must make the choice to believe.
"Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision."
"...Now as to this thing I do not know; but this much I do know, that the Lord God hath power to do all things which are according to his word."
- Alma 7:8