I know people who have literally shed tears over the course of many years of praying for answers to things such as the veracity of the Book of Mormon or simply the existence of God. These people are often blamed for not receiving answers: “Well, they just haven’t prayed long enough” or “they must have some sin or another that prevents them from getting an answer” or “they really have received an answer and just don’t accept it.”
Some of these people eventually choose to leave the church, and may be written off by others as having “given up” on their trial of faith.
I disagree that leaving the church necessarily means they have given up. I think that accusation is disrespectful, dismissive, and invalidating. In fact, leaving may be the opposite. It may take tremendous courage, patience, and dare I say, enduring to the end, especially for those from LDS families if they are not accepted.
We all have our own challenges and opportunities for personal growth whether in the church or out. For those of us in the faith, we should respect those who choose to leave (many of these people go through a great deal of pain along the way), trust that they really did give it all they had, and trust God that He loves them just the same. He will provide the experiences they need in this life, even outside of the church.
For those of us who have received answers, may we minister to others in love and service, regardless of their choice to leave the church, or their lack of belief.