One day I read an article by a college freshman who bragged about having become an atheist that year. Her reasons seemed to have more to do with wanting to rebel against her parents than with any carefully thought out reasoning, but one aspect of her article stood out to me. She said she was the highest power in the universe and she liked that idea. If she was the highest power, she didn’t have to follow anyone else’s rules or make any sacrifices she didn’t want to make.
Of course, she was too young to realize no one is the highest power in the universe, even if you take God out of the picture. She still had to answer to the university she was attending and had to follow their rules. She had to obey government laws.
When she got a job she had to answer to her boss. If her parents were paying her tuition, she had to answer to them. Very few people really have absolute control over every aspect of life without consequences. There are always consequences.
That said, there is a God. I suspected she had enjoyed an easy and maybe even pampered life to that point. She’d never had any big problems her parents couldn’t fix for her. Now, though, she was an adult (more or less) and her parents would not be able to fix everything. Life would eventually send big trials her way.
How would she handle it when she first encountered a problem that was bigger than she was? What would she do when something happened she couldn’t fix herself? If she got cancer or found herself unemployed with bills to pay or she had a child who was struggling with a seemingly unfix-able problem, would she still be comforted to know she was the highest power in the universe?
I have been thinking about this girl lately because I realized that sometimes, even though I know God is real, I act just like her. I act as though I am the highest power in the universe.
One day, many years ago, I was struggling with a problem I’d been trying to resolve for two months. It was a big problem, but I stubbornly went at it on my own, trying one solution after another and not asking for help from anyone in Heaven or on Earth. Finally, I gave up.
I admitted to God I couldn’t fix the problem on my own. I’d tried everything I knew how to do and nothing was better. In fact, I’d only made things worse. Instantly, the impression came to my mind that God was putting the resolution into place at that very moment. He did and things were soon taken care of.
As I thought about this, and as I came to realize that the resolution required solutions I could not have obtained on my own, I thought I was a lot like this college girl. I had been acting as if I was the highest power in the universe.
I had acted like God wasn’t there. I knew that if He could start the solution in motion the very moment I asked, He had only been waiting for me to ask. The whole problem could have been resolved two months ago if I’d humbled myself from the start and asked for help.
Believing in God is not helpful if we treat Him like He isn’t there. I learned from that trial that when my problems are bigger than me, I need to turn them over to a higher power—God. I am grateful every day of my life now that I am not the highest power in the universe.
I’ve lived long enough to know there is no comfort in such a thought and so, I thank my Heavenly Father for His very existence, and for being there when I need Him.
Questions: How do you decide when your problem is too big for you to handle alone? Do you find you’re good at taking it to God or do you find it challenging to let go of the controls?
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.