By Jodi Drake
The Gospel Doctrine lesson 25 manual objective is “to strengthen class members’ testimonies that they can receive forgiveness, peace, and eternal life because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
To explore our resistance to submission and to discuss the difference between submitting to God than to mankind.
Throughout my life, I have often been called stubborn. There are all sorts of titles people will assign to those of us who hate conforming to the expectations of others:
Insubordinate. Uncooperative. Difficult. Uncompromising. Opinionated. Proud. Obstinate.
These words grate against my vision of myself. I see independence and capability – resolution and determination.
The problem is, all these words are synonyms.
And in my defiance of the adjectives that some would place upon me, I found myself, at certain times in my life, becoming the very things others suggested. I have been defiant for defiance’s sake more times than I’d like to count.
My parents used to tell me to be home by midnight. So, I’d walk in at 12:03, almost daring them to confront me.
Once, in grade school, my teacher told me I couldn’t go to lunch until I finished a particular assignment. This failed to motivate me. As she walked the others to the lunch, I was left in the room alone for a short moment. When the last person exited, I immediately jumped to my feet, threw my arms high, with my little fingers pointing to the sky. I stuck one foot out, and I wiggled my whole body in a dance of delight. After a whole 5 seconds, I sat down and finished my work on my own terms.
Sometimes, I fought smarter battles, and my strong traits aided my progress. However, too often, I have found myself choosing things I felt were wrong just to prove that I lived outside expectations and to prove that I was the one in control.
Believe me, I now see the irony in this.
I’ve often thought of a great war we once fought long before we came to this earth. We battled for agency—the ability to make our own choices and accept their consequences. We revolted against anything that might suppress or control. Our spirits are still fighting that same battle. We resist any attempt of mankind to limit our gift of agency. I think it is natural to resent forced compliance.
We were created with the intent to live according to the higher law of self-governance.
I’ve thought about this often, and recently, a good friend asked me an interesting question about the idea of submission: “How is submitting our will to God different than submitting it to men?”
I was comforted through the instruction I received in the New Testament, when Jesus works through his process of submitting His will to the Father’s. It wasn’t necessarily easy for him, just as it may not be easy for us.
During Jesus’ time in the garden of Gethsemane, He experienced the opposite of peace; suffering so that he could complete his earthly mission as he promised us he would, extending to us the comfort that comes through his atoning gift, providing our only path back to our Father in Heaven. To me, it seems like there could have been a lot of pressure on him to do the right thing. Literally the entirety of humanity depended on him doing what he said he would do.
An account in Matthew chapter 26 teaches us that, three times, our Savior prayed, asking if there wasn’t some way for this cup to pass from him (verses 39, 42, and 44). A loving Father probably practiced much restraint to allow his Son to endure these painful moments, without telling him one way or the other what he should do. The Father didn’t need to tell his Son what to do because He had already taught Christ his role in the plan. And Christ had accepted it long before the pains of that moment.
Fueled by compassion, the Father sent angelic help to strengthen Christ (Luke 22:43). And, “…being in agony [Jesus] prayed more earnestly…” (Luke 22:44). Following this prayer, he willingly submitted to the only plan that would allow him the power to succor us in our moments of discouragement.
I don’t know what type of comfort the angel brought the Savoir in his most difficult moment, but perhaps a comforting message is, “You don’t have to do this.” Obviously, we needed him to complete the atonement, but never once was he compelled to.
While men may try to coerce us to action, God, our Father, never forces our submission to his will. He merely asks us to trust him enough to align our will with his. He doesn’t ask us to give up our will; he asks us to become educated enough to want the things that he wants. He encourages our agency and our self-development the whole way, and he never withdraws his love based upon our cooperation.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
A Grief Observed, Julie Hall
I’ve always had a strong testimony, I’ve always believed in God, but prior to this experience I thought I would try to make the best choices and follow the commandments, and then God would keep me from experiencing pain, you know? I don’t think it registered that I was thinking that way until I had to shift it, until that paradigm didn’t work anymore. After Jonah died, the Young Women’s theme kept coming to my mind: “I’m a daughter of my Heavenly Father, who loves me and I love Him.” That became my new focus to understanding God. I believe that God is all-powerful, but I don’t believe that He will prevent difficult things from happening in our life; doing so would rob us of our mortal experience and agency.
Nothing is Impossible, Dee Dee Shipley
That first Sunday after I was baptized, I bore my testimony and I started crying. And I thought, “Why am I crying?” I thought it was so odd. But even at that time, I felt so strong about the Gospel that I knew it was true. Ever since that time I have never doubted or waivered in my trust of the Lord. Sometimes I don’t always submit my will to Him, but now that I am as old as I am, I try to do that all the time because He has much better plans for me than I would have for myself. His road is much smoother and easier than taking the rocky road and doing things the hard way.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Agency-A Blessing and a Burden, Sharon G. Larsen
Because our purpose here on earth has not changed, nor will it ever, our Father steadily and regularly supplies additional gifts to make our world safe and strengthen our wise use of agency. Think about the gift of prayer—opportunities to be heard and understood. Think about the gift of the Holy Ghost, who will show us all the things that we should do (see 2 Ne. 32:5 ). Think about sacred covenants we have made, the scriptures, priesthood and patriarchal blessings. Think about the ultimate gift of the Atonement and its reminder in the sacrament that blankets us with love and hope and grace. These gifts help us use our agency wisely to return back to our heavenly home, where “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” ( 1 Cor. 2:9).
Raised in Hope, Chieko N. Okazaki
Hope is one of the three great Christian virtues because Christ Himself is the master of life and therefore the master of hope. We are free to choose because we were made free from the beginning, and He honors our agency and our right and ability to choose. The choice He offers is life, and life offers hope. Any other choice is a choice of spiritual death that will bring us into the power of the devil.