I've had this thought running around in my mind since Sunday's RS lesson and thought it might help to write it out.
When Rita asked us what things we do to block spiritual learning the first thing that came to mind was denial. I'm talking in terms of believers, not those who just out and out reject or deny anything religious.
What struck me is that we often try our best to follow most of the commandments and laws of God but we all seem to have at least one thing that gets a "yeah, I believe that, but..." response. I think that these are often our weakest areas and the points where we should try to focus some of our energy on in our spiritual learning and development.
Have you ever heard a talk or lesson in church and immediately had the thought "I totally agree with that, but..." and you find yourself making some sort of excuse or finding a reason why it really doesn't apply to you, especially right now, with your circumstances?
I have. It used to happen a lot. I once had so little understanding of the gospel that I would find excuses for every time I thought I couldn't live God's laws. I've now come to realize that every law and commandment applies to me just as equally as to everyone else. There isn't a single person on this earth who can fight against God's laws and win.
I still catch myself saying "yeah, but..." but not as often. I usually try to stop myself and remember that if I'm not living a particular law to the fullest right now it's not because God doesn't want me to; it's because I've let something else become more important, or because I need to recognize my weakness in this area and be humble enough to ask for my Savior's help in learning to live it more fully.
One of the greatest examples of this in my life is my inability (still) to speak in front of large groups (like Sacrament Meeting.) I've heard and understand all the scriptures about not fearing and I understand that fear doesn't come from God, etc. I have no doubt that this is true. None. Unfortunately, somewhere in my brain (the area that causes heart palpitations and fainting!) I'm still not able to push past this. It's my big "yeah, but..." Because Heavenly Father knows what a hard thing this is to ask of me surely He wouldn't require THAT. Right? I've struggled to overcome depression, social anxiety and a multitude of problems in my life so that should be good enough, right? Other people can do the public speaking but not me, because it's such a big, scary thing to even think of. I know that I need to and I know that it's what Heavenly Father wants. Yeah, but... I'm just not a good speaker, I find it hard to say things verbally, I freeze up and rush and feel stupid and, and, and.
All excuses. I know it and Heavenly Father knows it. I can't escape from the need to work on this just because it doesn't fit into my life comfortably. I can't say that it's okay for everyone else but not for me. Because I know that Heavenly Father will help me to get past this. He will help me to someday make it up to the podium and be able to speak. It may be awhile yet, but at least I'm making progress. And I'm so thankful for the learning experiences he gives me. What mercy and kindness to have me grow in this by making me get up in front of the sisters I dearly love and trust! I couldn't ask for a better audience to "practice" on and learn from!
We've all met people who find every reason in the world not to live a certain commandment. It may be paying tithing or attending church or giving up coffee or any number of things we've been counseled to do or not to do. It doesn't really matter what it is. What matters is where our hearts are when we hear the counsel. Do we still automatically say "yeah, I believe that but... that can't really apply to me" or do we humble ourselves and say "yeah, I believe that and I'm going to work on that." Isn't that what we are striving for? To be able to hear and understand and then really learn and apply it in our lives. That takes courage and humility and lots of perseverance. But that's the response God is looking for in our lives. He's heard enough excuses. He knows each of our situations, personalities and struggles. And He still expects us to learn and obey. No matter how hard or painful it is. Because He also knows that He can give us strength beyond our own. He will be there to help us defeat our weaknesses. But it has to start with a willingness to say "yeah, I believe that... and I will do it."