Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Step Three: Trust in God

Be thou humble and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to all thy prayers. D&C 112:10
I've written my thoughts on grief and the first steps in a twelve step program in terms of trust in God. In a very real way, they are issues of trust, not merely belief.

In many ways, the third step completes the rift between grief recovery and a twelve-step program. In a twelve-step program, people recognize that life has gone out of control because of things they have done and are doing and that the solution is to let God decide (the famous "I can't, God can, Guess I'll let God" mantra). In grief it is easy to see life being out of control because of the pain caused by things God has allowed to happen.

Alcoholics usually have a trail of jobs lost, lies told, relationships ruined because of the choice to drink and the loss of agency about whether or not to drink. Their own will has led them into the abyss and a twelve-step program offers them a path to let God's will rule their lives and lead them out and into sanity.

But many in grief were earnestly seeking God's will. C. S. Lewis wrote of the death of his wife in that context. Dallin H. Oaks had a similar experience when he came to be a widower. In the death of a child, consider David O McKay's son dying soon after he was called to full time service to God.

In this context, it requires seeking God's will in spite of God's will already having taken one through soul wrenching pain, sometimes more than once. Job's words, how he would trust God, even if God were to slay him, sit in that context. It is the challenge to trust God even though he may do the same thing again, a far different call for trust than a twelve-step program usually calls for. In fact, a common source of humor in twelve-step literature (consider the Joe & Charlie tapes, available free on the web, which contain a good example of this) is the baseless fears that following God would involve any pain.

No one in AA expects life to get worse in the will of God. In grief, it is very possible God has worse in store than one has already faced.

Yet, whether we turn to God, or whether we are holding to God in spite of everything, the key remains to trust in God. If we can do that, in humility, God will take us by the hand and give us answer to our prayers.

May the Holy One answer your prayers.


lochan said...

I think the term "God's will" is tricky. Because God allows us agency and he allows awful things to happen to us. It isn't that he wants awful things to happen to us (but the idea of "will" implies that he does), but it is alright when it does. Not that we are still happy or whole, but that in the end it is alright. Through God's love.

Lovely post.

Stephen said...

Great comment.

Anonymous said...

I think that a mature understanding of faith is tied with trust. We trust in God even when what we consider to be the very worst happens. I know it is easy to loose faith when our prayers are not answered the way that we want them to be answered. If all prayers were answered as we would desire, we would not need faith. For we would know. I don't know what I would do if I ever lost a parent or a child. It is easy to say ahead of time. But as a recent Ensign article spoke of where a young woman lost her father as a missionary that she really had to know at that point in a real way that what she was teaching was true. Faith can seem so abstract when it is someone else's trials.