Monday, July 7, 2008

Obedience: What does it mean? and what does it entail?

I have slowly been trying to work my way back into the blog world and in my attempts, have revisited a handful of blogs I follow. In my rekindling of blog activity, I came across a post that piqued my interest. I followed some linkage and visited another forum where a certain conversation was taking place. The thought that entered my mind was one my old stake president always said to the youth: "Garbage in, garbage out." Controversial at best, my heart was heavy laden and since then, I've maintained an ongoing conversation with dh to come to terms with my own beliefs and ideals. And now, I present to you a topic for discussion that will hopefully illuminate and provide clarity to my own understanding.

(Plus, its the Ch. 13 topic I am lucky enough to get to teach in RS in two weeks. So help me out here, ladies!!)

Obedience. When I think of this word, I immediately conjure up an image of my own children and my pleading with them to obey and ___ (fill in the blank) do as I ask. Ideally, I would love it if my children did not ask "but why" in response to my requests. After all, I was raised to be obedient in this same manner.

Over the years, I have asked my father about Church doctrine and questioned him about matters with little significance in my own eternal salvation. "But why is this so?" I have queried. My dad's response was that it is not necessary for me to always understand the Lord's motives and rationale for extending commandments; that the importance lies with whether or not I am an obedient child.

So in my studying for my upcoming lesson, I found this paragraph (Ch. 13, p. 161) which was taken from the History of the Church, 6:223; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on 2-21-1844:

"To get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded. Men may preach and practice everything except those things which God commands us to do, and will be damned at last. We may tithe mint and rue, and all manner of herbs, and still not obey the commandments fo God. [see Luke 11:42]. The object with me is to obey and teach others to obey God in just what He tells us to do. It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it."

So, taken from this year's RS manual, I present to you these three questions for discussion:

1. Why do we sometimes have to 'stand alone' to 'maintain a true principle'?
2. In what ways are we not alone at such times?
3. How can we help children and youth (and each other) stay true to gospel principles even when it is unpopular to do so?


heather said...

warning: this comment may make you ask yourself, who is this heather person and why does she talk so much?
I am so not an expert on obedience, but I sure do think and read about this stuff a lot.
I think I'll pick the kids question, even though once again, I'm a novice...
All I can figure is that it took me far too long to truly grasp the reason for the rules. Just to be different? Set apart? Better somehow?
I don't think that's it. Maybe it's part of it, but that in itself doesn't speak enough of God's love.
When I ask my kids to obey, I don't want them to follow through simply because "I said so." I don't want them to listen just because that's what you do, with no heart attachment to the purpose behind it. That being that they know whole-heartedly that I love them and know how to keep them safe and lead them in a way that will bring them happiness.
I suppose the parent heart of God is like that. He doesn't tell us to obey for kicks. He knows exactly what will bring us the most joy and fulfillment and asks us to obey because he knows we will find the most comfort and joy in doing things the way He designed them to be done.
Living outside of that can bring so much pain, I know that first-hand. Not obeying leads to a snowball effect of yuckiness.
I want my kids to know that too. That God and I both love them so much and our direction is meant to keep them within a perfect call for their lives, not just to have rules and regs for the sake of rules and regs.
Sometimes I ramble until I think I'm making sense and never really do, so I'll stop now.
I don't think comments are supposed to be this long. There may be an unwritten rule about that. If so, let me know and I will start to obey! :)
oh shoot, one more thingy-if you're totally bored, I wrote about this subject, maybe just in a different way recently on my 'if life is a highway' blog which you can find in my profile. if you're bored...

Nichole said...

hayngrl, this has been on my mind a lot (as you know). I've thought a lot about it and talked it to death with M.

Last night for FHE, we studied Elder Packer's talk in the Worldwide Leadership Training.

I got to the point where he said "there is only one place on this earth where the family can be fully protected, and that’s within the ordinances and the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Live the gospel, and you’re going to be all right" and I started crying and M had to read.

We are NEVER alone when we do what's right, even if we're the only person doing what's right for miles around - because our Father is right there with us. He'll never forsake us for following him. We'll not get that same promise from any mortal man or woman.

He also said "There are times when we are accused of being intolerant because we won’t accept and do the things that are supposed to be the norm in society. Well, the things we won’t do, we won’t do. And the things we won’t do, we can’t do, because the standard we follow is given of Him."

When I run up against persons, even of our own faith, who question those standards, I begin to fear. I have no wish to follow them. I only wish to follow Him. I run to Him as a child who feels unsafe or frightened would run to a parent, and I cling to Him. And I try to obey what He tells me because I love Him and TRUST Him. That's it: I TRUST HIM.

Thanks hayngrl. This type of discussion in the wake of so much trouble and strife is cathartic in its own right.

jess said...

funny thing, my husband and i were just talking about this last night. we came to the conclusion (since we are new parents) that we really want to teach our kids the "whys" of the gospel. of course there are things that we don't always know the answers to, and there are some things that we are simply commanded to obey without knowing the meaning behind it all. however, i really feel like those who truly understand why our heavenly father commands what he commands (mostly out of love for us and to keep us safe) will in the end choose the right because they understand the commandment. it won't be seen as a restriction or a rule to be broken, but instead as a cheat sheet to win the game of life.

Nichole said...

P.S. Best luck on your lesson! I have #14 to teach very soon. . .

Kimberly said...

I can't help pondering on the fact that we have only one thing that is truly ours in this life. Everything else can be taken away from us except this one thing; our agency. I think we're here to learn how to give it back. To say not our will, but His be done. That is one of the greatest examples our Savior set for us. The greatest sacrifice mankind has ever witnesses.

Obedience through love is what we're striving for most, I think. When we can love and trust in our Father enough to put our agency into His hands, I think then...we're ready to go home.