I’ve struggled all my life with relying on Heavenly Father to help me with my problems. Soul searching over the years has enlightened me on why I have this problem, but the struggle continues.
I was a sickly child, and I think I got through it by sheer willpower and drawing on that pure spiritual strength of a child. As an adult, subconsciously, I think I should have that same strength to do anything life throws at me. So, I developed the attitude, “I can do it myself.” Obviously that’s a bad attitude, and it’s not conducive to spiritual growth. In an attempt to be spiritually self-reliant, I’ve often managed to deny myself of the blessings of personal revelation.
Reviewing my notes from April 2018 LDS General Conference, I saw something about being spiritually self-reliant, so I went back and read the transcript.
[W]e might ask, “Lord, what do I need to do to be part of the solution?” Instead of just listing our problems in prayer and asking the Lord to solve them, we ought to be seeking more proactive ways of receiving the Lord’s help and committing to act according to the Spirit’s guidance. … The arrival of a typhoon is no time to dust off the gift of the Holy Ghost and figure out how to use it. … We need the Holy Spirit as our guide in calm waters so His voice will be unmistakable to us in the fiercest storm (Elder Larry Y. Wilson, “Take the Holy Spirit as Your Guide,” Apr. 2018 General Conference).
What I believe Elder Wilson is telling me is that I need to change my attitude of “I can do it myself” to “I can do it if Thou wilt show me how.” I actually think I might be able to handle that! All these years, I’ve felt that if I couldn’t do something myself, I was a failure. My prayers have in so many words said, “Hey, I messed up, I failed, wilt Thou fix it for me? Wilt Thou clean up my mess?” This is not an effective way to try to receive personal revelation, nor is it conducive to spiritual learning and growth.
I am not a failure. I am not a klutz in the dance of life because I have to ask for help maneuvering the dance floor. Every good dancer is willing to listen to instruction from a good dance teacher. Listening is the key. The instructor can talk all he wants, but until the dancer listens, her feet continue to trip over each other.
If the dancer is hiring a dance teacher, she might say, “I love to dance. I want to be good at it. I know I can, if you will show me how. Will you show me the proper steps and the proper technique?” The same is true while dancing through life’s struggles. It is acceptable for me to have confidence in my own abilities, but I must also acknowledge that I can’t do it alone. I must ask Heavenly Father to show me the way. I must ask Him to teach me how to do it right. Without the proper technique, I will only be an average dancer. With Heavenly Father’s help, I can be a prima ballerina in the dance of life.
Therefore, spiritual self-reliance is acknowledging God’s hand in all things. Spiritual self-reliance is asking His help to do what I know I am capable of if I have His help. He is not only willing, but anxious to help. I just have to come to Him and ask.
Going back to the quote by Elder Wilson, above, I can’t wait until my biggest earthly dance performance before asking the dance teacher for proper technical instruction. I need time to practice before the performance of my life. My dance career will only be as good as the number of hours I practice. I need to learn by experience to ask for help, listen to instruction, and practice the dance. No prima ballerina is made without practice, and even bloody feet. I must be willing to work, sacrifice, and even wrap my bloody wounds from the attempts.
Spiritual self-reliance is simple—so simple that I completely missed the point. Spiritual self-reliance is being humble enough to let Heavenly Father help me. It is acknowledging my strengths, but also my weaknesses. Spiritual self-reliance happens when I acknowledge that I can do hard things if I have God’s help. It is being open to listen to His guidance through the Holy Ghost. It is taking that personal revelation with continual practice in following it. I can’t try to teach the instructor and expect to become the prima ballerina in the dance of my eternal progression.
Maybe, just maybe, I finally get it.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.