Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obedience Can Bring Us Peace and Comfort: Part 1

originally posted at Modern Molly Mormon

"Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest."
-Bruce R. McConkie

Abuse may distort our perceptions about obedience. As victims we may have been taught to obey at all costs. Any mistake may have led to severe physical, emotional or sexual punishment. As adults we may have adopted perfectionist tendencies, or live in fear of punishments that may come if a mistake is made. Sometimes victims of abuse go to the other extreme and rebel against authority and/or God.

Many who have been abused find it difficult to feel the influence of the Holy Ghost as well as to feel answers to prayer. Although we may interpret this as a lack of Heavenly Father's love, there is another explanation. A basic defense children use against sexual abuse is to shut down their feelings, helping them to get through the trauma. Yet this response also cuts them off from positive feelings. As a result, those who have been abused may have difficulty feeling the love of Heavenly Father, His servants, and other nurturing people in their lives.

One of Adam's great religious acts has become the classical illustration of perfect obedience. This first man of all men was commanded by the Lord to offer the firstlings of his flocks as a sacrifice, which he did. "Thereupon an angel appeared to him and asked: 'Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?' and Adam said unto him, 'I know not, save the Lord commanded me.'" Then the angel told him the purpose and significance of sacrifice. (Moses 5:5-8) It should be noted that obedience preceded receipt of the new revelation.

As shown by Adam, obedience requires trust and faith, two attributes that are often damaged by abuse. When we align ourselves with God, everything in our life will either fall into place, or it will fall out of our life.

I have found in my life that I do not feeling as if I am controlled by anyone or anything. This has been a major roadblock in my being obedient--to my parents, my leaders, and even Heavenly Father. I responded to the abuse by rebelling in many ways, which caused a lot of disharmony in my family relationships. Now that I am an adult, I can handle these situations more maturely. But I still don't like feeling as if I am being told to do something. I am continuing to work on the obedience aspect of the gospel.

Almost without exception, we are encouraged to seek answers and healing from scripture reading and prayer. It is almost a cliche and we may fear that as we seek help from a church leader we will be dismissed with an unsympathetic "read your scriptures and pray." Unfortunately, in many cases this is what we may encounter. Yet, as we humble ourselves and turn to the Lord through prayer and scripture study, we can receive help we wouldn't have found otherwise.

President Benson said, "'From a child thou has known the holy scriptures, whicdh are able to make thee wise unto salvation' (2 Timothy 3:14-15). My dear brethren [and sisters], this is an answer to the great challenge of our time. The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life."

I have found in my own experience that my greatest joy comes from doing the things the Lord has asked of me. Lately I have really struggled when it comes to scripture study--and even my own personal prayers. It has been a rough couple of years and my faith has really been tested. It is still being tested. I am making a goal right here, right now, to get myself back on track, to facilitate my continued healing, to progress in my growth as a person, a wife, and a mother, by obeying the Lord's commandments.

"For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven." (D&C 58:2)

I would like to challenge each of you to do your best in keeping the Lord's commandments. We each struggle with something different. For me, it is scripture study and prayer. For someone else, it may be swearing. For another, the word of wisdom, and for another, it may be something very different. I know that the Lord loves all of us. He wants us to be happy. He has told us that happiness comes from obedience. He has given us the way, now we just need to follow it. We are His children, and He wants only the best for us. Let's live up to our potential as His children and work hard to do as He has asked.

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