My whole life I thought trusting the Lord meant putting my life in His hands and just letting Him take the wheel (JESUS TAKE THE WHEEEEEEEEL). I assumed He would tell me where to go to college…but He didn’t. I hoped He would say, “hey Lisi, I need you to serve a mission,” but that did not happen either. I wish He would send me some sign about when to get married, but I don’t think it works that way. He needs me to act.
So how do we trust in the Lord, while still valuing the greatest gift that He trusts us with—agency?
Basically there are 3 main ways that we can have “more trust in the Lord” and still be agents unto ourselves: choosing to be obedient, doubting our doubts not our faith, and taking the next step even without seeing the finish line.
Choosing to be OBEDIENT
All high school students are likely to complain about curfew at one point or another in their teenage years. Whether their parents say they have to come home at 11 or 8, their best friend, Sally, probably gets to come home an hour later than they do! How mean, Mom and Dad! Stop saying you’re trying to protect us and make us happy, when really you are just ruining our lives!!!! OMG.
Well the reality is…. All parents everywhere are actually protecting their children by establishing rules at home. We don’t always recognize that, because we are rebellious, angsty teens who want to stay out until 3 in the morning ON A SCHOOL NIGHT!
Our Heavenly Father is the same way: He establishes rules—commandments—to help us progress and become who He knows we can become. Some commandments are easy to understand why we should follow them—killing people is obviously bad—but how we react to the commandments we don’t understand shows how much we value our agency.
There are essentially two paths. Jacob in 2 Nephi 10 puts it like this:
“Cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.”
Clear and simple. Using our agency to trust in the commandments will bring us JOY. We will be able to cuddle with our loved ones forever! But choosing to be a rebellious spirit child of our Heavenly Father results in cuddling with a cactus for a long time.
It’s just best to CHOOSE TO BE OBEDIENT
Doubt your doubts
I am really susceptible to succumbing to doubts and letting them eat my toes off, so much so that I always have dreams that my toes keep falling off! So when President Uchtdorf spoke in October 2013, I decided to change some things—and consequently keep my toes and my sanity. He said:
President Uchtdorf alludes to a choice that we can make. We can choose to doubt. Our doubts cripple us. They don’t just eat at our toes; they hold us down and stop us from achieving our dreams. If we don’t choose to trust in God and cast out the doubts, we won’t act. We will never grow. We will never accomplish what God intends for us. Our faith, trust, and agency allow us to receive the blessings God has planned for us.
Take the next step
I am TERRIFIED of making a decision without knowing how it’s all going to turn out in ten months, so generally I just want others to make decisions for me, but that’s not how trust and agency work.
From the beginning, we haven’t known exactly how things would turn out. In the premortal life, we knew that we needed to come to the earth and receive bodies, but we didn’t necessarily know exactly what would happen down here. We didn’t know what our favorite animals would be or who our best friend in kindergarten would be, but we trusted that our Heavenly Father had a plan. So we took a step into the dark.
Now we live in this imperfect place, amongst imperfect people, and we make really imperfect plans that sometimes don’t work out. Life would be so easy if we could just turn over all our decisions to God and say, “JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!” But trust me, that’s not how it works out. I’ve tried. Many times. Instead we have to follow the advice in Doctrine and Covenants 9:
“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”
The Lord is saying that we have our agency, so we must act! We have to make the plans and take the steps. But we are not alone! He promises to guide us, but not take control of our lives. He is the perfect parent. He allows us to choose and trusts that we will come to Him for His approval. He’s not going to let us go down a wrong path, but He’s not going to make all our decisions for us.
Life is a big balancing act between trust and agency, and I find the greatest happiness when I am being an “agent unto (myself)” and “(trusting) in the Lord with all (my) heart” (Doctrine and Covenants 58, Proverbs 3). When I make my own decisions, present them before the Lord, and receive His seal of approval, I feel like He trusts me, which makes me HAPPY. God wants us to be happy, so He gave us our agency. So let’s go out and use it!