Shalissa Lindsay writes stories, analogies, and ideas that have helped ground her faith.
I can’t possibly write an unbiased review of the brilliant little bookAnswers Will Come: Trusting the Lord in the Meantime, since its author Shalissa Lindsay has been one of my dearest friends since we were freshman roommates. I can have four hour long conversations with her and still feel like I’m not finished talking yet. I had the great opportunity of giving her feedback on it during an early drafting stage as well–I love her honesty, her insights, and her perspectives on trusting the Lord. She is particularly effective at creating analogies to help illuminate challenging ideas. But so that you don’t have to take my word for it, I’m linking to this review by Daniel Petersen, found here.
Go read his review! We’ll wait. And now, a little bit about Answers Will Come from the perspective of its author, Shalissa Lindsay:
Why did you decide to write this book? Who is its intended audience?
Anyone who asks enough gospel questions will eventually reach doctrinal or historical spots where we just don’t have answers yet. Those revelations are still pending. And frankly, that’s the point of Earth life—to spend some time learning to walk in the dark (by the light of faith). So the question is: when you hit an area of faith that just doesn’t make sense, how do you find intellectual breathing space? How do you help your intellect learn to trust? That’s what this book is about.
When I was preparing for a mission as a young adult, I spent some long, tearful, distrustful months grappling with hard gospel questions. I know that dark, lonely place where you keep banging on heaven’s door and hearing nothing. But I’ve also come through on the other side—to years filled with incredible conviction and peace and joy in the gospel.
It’s not because God gave me all the answers. In fact, I have more questions than ever! It’s because He’s been teaching me to trust.
I wrote this book to encourage others with questions to hold on until you feel the trust creep in—because it is totally worth it!
I tried to write this book simply enough that every Latter-day Saint would be uplifted, from age 10 to age 110. It’s not in scholarly language. If you’ve had tough doctrinal questions, you’ll see immediately how my ideas apply to those. But if you don’t have those type of questions, this book won’t create them for you. I don’t go deep into any of the specific questions that caused my original testimony crisis many years ago.
What makes Answers Will Come different from other similar books of Mormon apologetics?
I call my insights “in-the-meantime-answers” from God. My intellectual breakthroughs didn’t come from history books or scholarly essays. They came as the Spirit worked on me through simple everyday things: pancake griddles, Amazon purchase receipts, new house inspections, embryos that can’t eat salsa, leftovers in the fridge, babysitter rules; things like that.
I don’t try to explain why a certain prophet did this specific thing, or why God did that specific thing. I just share ideas that helped me take courage, helped me trust, helped me hold on to my testimony, until the joy of the gospel started flowing again.
Why did you decide on the specific format of the book?
This book could have been renamed, “The 62 simplest ideas that helped me keep trusting God—each limited to a single page.” You can read it in a single sitting, snuggled on the couch. Or you can read like me, snatching a page here and there in the bathroom. There’s enough story line to connect the pages, but each key idea is packaged so that it only takes 1 minute to read and can be easily shared with your friends or family all by itself—without reading the whole book.
What has been the response from friends or family members to it? Which stories or experiences resonated the most with people?
Almost everybody can think of someone they love and want to share the book with. I’ve been surprised at how many readers describe the book comforting them after the death of a loved one. One reader lost her fiancée to a car accident and said this book was really helpful to her. Another family said it helped them through the grieving period after their father’s suicide. I think they’re referring mostly to the section in which I talk about the Savior sharing our individual pains, an excerpt of which can be read online here. (The title to that article doesn’t come from the book; it was added by the LDS Living Staff.)
Was it challenging to write so honestly about your own crisis of faith? What made you decide to do that?
Yes. I had two conflicting desires. I wanted to share enough personal stuff that those with deep struggles would know that I really get where they’re coming from. But I also didn’t want to leave any reader with new questions or doubts that they didn’t have before. (Who needs that, right?) I wanted the book to be full of empathy for those hurting, but full of light too so that every reader could come away happier and stronger, even after just a couple of pages. I hope I was able to do that.
Tell people a little bit about yourself–what do you enjoy doing, how did you find time to write when you have eight children, etc.
I did a LOT of writing between 2:00-6:00 AM, on nights when I couldn’t sleep. You can imagine how many rewrites that needed, so the whole project took about two years, even though it’s less than 100 pages of text. My kids were thrilled when the book was finished because I started having time for new recipes and projects!
My life revolves around my kids, ages 16 to 2. They’re all girls except for 6 of them. I’m a minimalist when it comes to organized sports and lessons, but on one unavoidable day last month my big van had to make 17 kid stops between the hours of 3:30 and 7:00 pm. We’ve eaten way too many cold cereal dinners, and I sort laundry by kid, not by color. I’ve decided I can’t even consider another book until I’ve gone on 100 fun outings with my kids, read 100 books, and watched 100 TED talks.
?Are you working on a new project right now?
Writing ideas pester me like mosquitos. I work hard to swat most of them down, but every now and then one lands anyway—and then I have to write a couple of pages until the itch goes away. Purely as a hobby (not paid), I write an article every couple of months for Meridian Magazine online. My favorites are “Defending Motherhood Just Takes 3 Words” and “Spiritual Secret-Ops Agents: Is Your Neighbor One? Are you?”
Shalissa, thank you so much for your thoughtful answers! Everyone, go check out Answers Will Come: Trusting the Lord in the Meantime. It would be a great gift for yourself or for someone you care about. If you’ve already read Answers Will Come, I’d love to hear your thoughts.