I would like to start by quoting some of the quotes in the handbook that are inspiring and sum up what step three is all about.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “as one’s will is increasingly submissive to the will of God, he can receive inspiration and revelation so much needed to help meet the trials of life . . . Progression toward submission confers another blessing: an enhanced capacity for joy . . The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar.” I also love how he explains spiritual submissiveness because I know sometimes my expectations are too much and I get discouraged. He said, “spiritual submissiveness is not accomplished in an instant, but by the incremental improvements and by the successive use of stepping stones. Stepping stones are meant to be taken one at a time anyway.”
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “trust in God . . . No matter how challenging the circumstance . . . Your peace of mind, your assurance of answers to vexing problems, your ultimate joy depend upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.”. (I love the word “depend” here). He also said, “the inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, or fear.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “just be faithful. God is in charge. He knows your name and he knows your need.” When we learn to place our complete trust in God’s will, we will not necessarily have fewer trials, but we will always receive an endowment of spiritual strength, comfort and guidance to help us.
I love these quotes! I think of the “stepping stones” frequently. This does not just apply to step three or any step in particular for that matter. It applies to all things in life. I can’t become perfect all at once, I can’t forgive all at once, I can’t be healed and full of happiness all at once. I can’t overcome all my weaknesses and challenges all at once. In fact, I will spend my lifetime overcoming various things and there will always be room for more improvement. So this has been very comforting for me to be able say I have made one step forward, I’m moving in the right direction and keep working toward moving toward to the next stepping stone and that is how it is meant to be. I have found as I have went through the steps multiple times now, the first time I go through a step I have certain feelings or responses and then when I do that step again a few months later I realize I have grown a lot and my perspective has changed and what I get out of a step is different than the first time around. This is the same with scriptures, depending on where I am in my life, I get something different out of them that will help me at that particular time.
So turning my will over to God’s is no exception, it too comes in steps just like Elder Maxwell said. In the beginning I thought I was following the Lord, I was going to the 12 step meetings, I was keeping my covenants and staying with my husband, I was praying, reading the scriptures, trying to forgive even though I didn’t think it was possible but moving forward with faith anyway. It took me months of getting my emotional butt kicked before I opened my eyes and seen there was more to it than that for me. I was trying to logically think through my husband’s addiction to try to justify it, or explain it, or whatever it took to come to terms with it. I finally realized this was MY way of healing. I was trying to comes to terms with the addiction and soothe myself and it was like beating my head against the wall. The truth of the matter was, all I was doing was forcing myself to dwell on the addiction and it was and will be a horrible thing that I can’t rationalize away. I ultimately had to turn it over to the Lord and allow him to literally take the hurt away – I couldn’t remove it myself. It took a lot of prayer and letting go of my way and diligent effort to not entertain the thoughts of my husbands addiction when they came. But it was all worth the effort and once I allowed myself to let go, the healing has come much faster and much better than it had for all those earlier months. At times I wish I had figured it out sooner but I also think this was part of the Lord’s plan for me.
The struggles that I have went through, the emotional aches and torture has taught me a lot. I have learned a lot about the power of prayer, I have learned first hand how much better the Lord can heal than any human being. I have learned more about the atonement in a few months than all the other time of my life up to this point combined. I have learned patience. I have spent many hours pondering the plan of salvation, agency, endurance, the promises of eternal life, etc. Had I not gone through this trial I would never have spent the time and energy, my entire soul, into feasting on these gospel principles. Being taught these things in Sunday school is one thing, but going through things in life where you rely upon the teachings and strength of Christ is entirely something different. Living it brings the teachings alive. I have also recognized some of my weaknesses that I would not have seen or acknowledged any other way. I know that because of my personality, my history, my weaknesses, this trial is exactly what I needed to make the most of this probationary period. It is what I need for the Lord to further me along my pathway to the eternal life that I am striving for. I have gained a testimony that each of our trials are meant to be ours. I am not meant to have someone else’s. My trial may have come about because of my husband’s choices but that is no accident either, I was meant to go through this trial with him.
As my husband and I have worked through these trials we have had the opportunity to work on our marriage and fix things I never knew were broken. I have come to know that we love each other and will stand by each other through everything. I have seen our trials make us stronger not weaker and because of that I know we will make it through anything. Yes, there is still trust issues and it is still a journey but even though it is not easy our marriage is great and I know it is actually a gift from my Heavenly Father because he is fixing things that were broken that we wouldn’t have fixed on our own.
What I am trying to say is, I believe and have a testimony of what is taught in Step three. I know the Lord knows me, I know Jesus Christ suffered for me. I know He knows how to help me, heal me, soothe me and I know my trials and struggles are exactly what I need to make me the best person possible. However, I must submit my will to his plan, I must endure the trials and make stepping stones out of them instead of stumbling blocks. I am grateful to be learning this and I know it will be a life long effort to submit my will to the Lord’s. It’s so hard to acknowledge sometimes that He knows things I don’t and my way and my plans are not the best when from my view there is no better option. In truth, it often feels like the Lord’s way is the harder way initially but in the end the reward is sooo worth it. I compare it to a hike. I can drive on a road and see some great things and it’s easy and not very challenging but if I get out and hike, I see things even greater. Often times the best views are at the top of really steep climbs but I would never miss the opportunity. I also compare it to physical fitness. I can go for casual walks and my muscles will only be somewhat strengthened. Running, biking, swimming, weight lifting, etc will strengthen those muscles even more and allow me to do more with them and have greater endurance. The harder the activity, the greater the strength that comes from it. So when the Lord gives me a hard trial I try to tell myself the view at the end of the hike will be worth it (the lesson learned at the end will be worth it), the strength I get will be worth it (the spiritual strength and ability to endure is priceless). Those thoughts help me get through moments when I would rather give up. But I also can’t run faster than I have strength and thus the stepping stones and little bit at a time – and that is okay.