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Reluctant Disciple

I will be the last person on the earth to claim that my will is identical to the Lord’s. I am very often what I’d call a reluctant disciple. When God speaks through his prophets, I have sometimes been angry, annoyed, bugged, disappointed, argumentative, fill in the blank with the negative emotion of your choosing. I’m more of a thy-will-be-done-because-I-know-I’m-cursed-otherwise-but-I’d-really-like-thy-will-to-be-like-mine-if-you-can-manage-it than anything.

I’m not promoting that, nor proud of it. But it’s true. I’m no Neal Maxwell. (Yea, a shocker, I know.)

But I have learned (the hard way?) that obedience is vital. Obedience trumps my feelings, my notion of fairness, my needs, my anything. I have found that God knows best even though I’m still often a stubborn idiot without much perspective.

As the debate over how binding direct, prophetic counsel is rages on the boards (particularly in reference to repeated counsel for mothers to try to stay home with their children), I am reminded of the danger of making yourself an exception to the “rules.”

Granted, there are exceptions. Very often these are addressed by the prophets themselves at the very time the counsel is set forth. But sometimes we want so much to do our own thing, that we look like politicians on the stump or CPAs weedling out an extra buck on the tax return. We deny clear language and find all the reasons why it doesn’t apply to us anyway.

In high school, my best friend and I sneaked into an R-rated movie. We didn’t so much make a careful movie selection as we did just try to see if we could get away with it. We watched the classic, romantic comedy Cheech and Chongs Nice Dreams. It was a raunchy disappointment at best. But it didn’t stop me from doing it again.

Yea, I’d heard the talk about avoiding bad movies. Good counsel, too. Especially for all those really impressionable people out there. And I really considered it. Honest. But as long as I analyzed the problematic scenes and their implications, intellectually understanding what they were, I could avoid the downfall of so many.

Truth is, I’m not markedly different from the mass of humanity. And making myself an exception to one rule, makes it easier to rationalize being an exception to another. That, I suppose, isn’t so hard to fathom. But what really surprised me is that the further you travel down that road, it isn’t just the rules that your mind makes you an exception to. It also becomes the rewards.

If I don’t have to follow God’s counsel, then maybe his promises don’t apply to me either. I can see how all of you can access the atonement, but I think I’m just too far gone.

It was Stephen Robinson’s article, (that later became the book) “Believing Christ,” that brought this so clearly to me. I had long since stopped the movies and other questionable behavior, had married in the temple, and actively serving all over the place. But in the back of my mind, I still felt that I couldn’t really see myself as “making it.”

I had, however, learned well that “exceptional” living needs to be carefully reserved for the exceptions. And thinking that being smart or clever or righteous or careful moves us to the realm of the exception is really none of the above.

So, when the prophet said, “Come home, wives, to your children, born and unborn.” I didn’t say, “God, I will stay home when you change all my feelings and confirm the blessedness of your counsel.” or “I will come home when Sam graduates from college and we are financially comfortable.” I said, “Heavenly Father, I will stay home, even though I don’t want to, because you said so. And you can’t let me be miserable.” (That is an exact quote, by the way, although it included a lot more angst and sputtering than I can type.)

As usual, I tried to obey the counsel, but it didn’t come without my own preferences and desires getting in the way.

Yes, I did gain a testimony of the counsel in time. But not immediately. Not coincidentally, I think, the first moment that was truly revelatory came exactly six weeks and one day after my daughter was born. The day I would have missed being back at work had I not obeyed the counsel.

When the prophet speaks, it is the word of God. We can follow or not. In my experience it works best to do the former even if we go kicking and screaming than not.

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • kiar February 22, 2008, 1:17 pm

    I love this article! you totally nailed it! We follow counsel, reluctantly, until we realize how much it applies, and how it has blessed us!!!

  • spande2 February 22, 2008, 1:42 pm

    Well said, Alison. I can’t really relate because all I ever wanted was to be a stay-at-home mom. I do remember noting, as a 19-20 year old, that a busy day for the mom of one of my boyfriends was a trip to the store and picking someone up from school. I told my mom at that point that I didn’t want to be “that” kind of stay-at-home mom. But, the older I get, the more like that mom I want to become. I often find that, as a “stay-at-home mom”, I spend two-thirds of my life in the car. It is so exhausting, fracturing and aggravating. I hate the car. I used to love driving–not anymore.

    I read a really great book awhile ago and keep re-reading it. It is called “Hearth and Home”, by Karey Swan. Ooooh! I love it. She talks about real home-making, not just laundry and dishes, but real home-style hospitality and beauty.

    My dream life right now is to be home with or without my kids, painting pictures, painting walls, watching my ducks, gathering eggs, cooking, baking, gardening and reading. I think it is good for kids to have some extra-curricular activities, but I think we (and when I say “we” I really mean “I”) are way too obsessed with running. I need to “be still” more.

  • kiar February 22, 2008, 2:07 pm

    I love taking my kids places, but hate my van! I secretly covet my friend’s van that has the wonderful sliding doors on BOTH sides of the vehicle. I have actually been known to think “do I really need to go pick up the kids from school? its just raining cats and dogs, they won’t melt” because I didn’t want to load the two little ones in the car! The 3 year old has made it a little easier on me, since he has learned how to buckle his car seat up himself.
    I also would love to be the perfect “SAHM” but I have come to terms, and my husband has too, that it just ain’t gonna happen! (I am not his mom, who is a great homemaker, and its been a struggle for him) The laundry will always be there, and if the dishes don’t get done immediatly, oh well! The kids are happy, and that’s what matters. (the little one is going through a “you must hold me at all times” stage right now. Fun since we are moving next week, and I need to be packing stuff.)
    I think that as long as our kids are happy, educated, and well loved, we can overlook the mounds of laundry, and put down the dusting cloth every now and then to just play with them.
    Being “still” is a wonderful thought. I think if we can do that, even for 10-15 minutes, it’s like recharging our batteries, which helps us continue with our day!(and keeps us sane)

  • spande2 February 22, 2008, 6:22 pm

    I rarely pick up the dusting cloth, kiar, so I’m impressed that you need to put it down. I actually dusted (helped the kids dust) before my 18 year old’s birthday party last Saturday. I can’t remember when I dusted before that. It just isn’t very high on my priority list. I’d much rather bake cookies.

  • davidson February 22, 2008, 7:17 pm

    Erma Bombeck said dust was a way to measure time.

  • kiar February 22, 2008, 7:43 pm

    oh, I don’t dust, its against my religion! I was merely speaking to those fabulous “real housewives” my husband claims exist. Personally I think that they are like elves, or fairies. For the love people, put the cloths down, and back away slowly… no one gets hurt!

  • davidson February 22, 2008, 8:44 pm

    Alison, BTW, I loved this article. I hope the Lord will greatly bless you for your faith and sacrifice. It creates a stronger testimony, doesn’t it, when we have to change our very desires in order to obey. My sister likes to tell the story of a little boy who walked many miles to give his beloved teacher a beautiful shell. The teacher was surprised and pleased, but felt anguish over the distance the boy had traveled to give it to her. When she expressed this anguish, the boy said to her, “Long walk part of gift.” I know the Lord saw and appreciated the long walk you made to lay your obedience at His feet. I do love you, Alison.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 23, 2008, 12:40 am

    Wow, that was so very nice. Thank you.

    But please, I hope this wasn’t seen as self-promoting. Honestly, too often I do NOT “change my desires” I just go along with it so I won’t get struck by lightening. I’m working on that other part. Neal Maxwell was such an example of the complete submission of self, just looking at him made me feel guilty.

    Anyway, thank you. I love that story.

  • spitfire February 24, 2008, 3:55 pm

    Great article…I find I can be “obedient” to most things but it’s things like reading the scriptures & daily prayer that I struggle with. What is it about those 2 that are so hard?

  • davidson February 24, 2008, 11:25 pm

    Those two are the hardest because those two are the things that will bring you the closest to God. God knows that, but Satan knows it, too. You already sound like a person of influence and ability, and it would be a real feather in his cap if he could bring you down. I heard this cute little saying once: “So live that when you get up in the morning, Satan will say, ‘OH NO! She’s awake!” If you have real difficulty with kneeling in formal prayer, start with praying in the car (or when you’re in the bathroom.) Almost anywhere can be a place of prayer. And you can tell Him ANYTHING! He won’t think less of you. He is the president of your fan club.

  • jendoop February 25, 2008, 9:19 am

    Amen! That was so great, similar to my own situation. You put it into words well.

    My sister and I were discussing obedience. She said I was less rebellious than her, I said I’m rebellious, I’ve just learned that what God tells me to do is better for me. The experiences of my life and watching others, has taught me that I want to obey because God gives me commandments because he loves me and wants to help me.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 25, 2008, 1:51 pm

    Posted By: jendoopI’m rebellious, I’ve just learned that what God tells me to do is better for me.

    Well said.

  • naomlette February 27, 2008, 12:10 am

    I’m rebellious, I’ve just learned that what God tells me to do is better for me.

    Good for you! Too bad I have yet to learn that!:wink:

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