As I mentioned in A Journey to Submission: Part One, I received many e-mails and comments on my article Don’t Face the World Alone asking for more details about the process of laying ourselves on the altar and giving ourselves totally to the Savior.
This is not a one time commitment. It is one that we must make over and over in our lives. As I said before, the model for this is given in the first principles and ordinances of the gospel which dovetail together in a divine manner to provide us with what we need to know about submission to the Savior and our Heavenly Father’s will for us.
In my life, I discovered a finer shade to the doctrine of repentance in 2004. For two years I had been living in a state of rebellion in my heart. I was rebelling in anger against the Lord for an affliction which made no sense to me. I was told in my patriarchal blessing and in other revelation, too sacred to recount, what my mission on this earth was, what the Lord expected me to consecrate to him. And yet, because of my ever-worsening genetic mental illness, over which I had no control, I was not able to even attempt to accomplish that mission. I tried and tried and failed over and over. I felt this to be grossly unfair. How could I be held accountable for completing my foreordained mission when I was being prevented by an illness which I had also brought with me into this life?
In my anger at this unfairness, I sought distraction and some kind of comfort. If I had not still chosen to obey the word of wisdom, I might have turned to drugs or alcohol to mellow my anger and distract me. But I became addicted to something else: romances! Steamy or otherwise. I consumed them at the rate of one per day, over a period of two years. I knew it was wrong, but I was lashing out in my anger. And the romances soothed me, making me believe that there would be a happy ending in my life.
Then came Spring Conference of 2004, and another conference talk that changed my life. I commend all of it to you, as it is indeed a life changer. It is all about the finer shades of the second principle of the gospel.
Elder Bruce R. Hafen gave a landmark talk entitled, “The Atonement: All for All.” (Ensign, May, 2004)
He said these words which struck me in my unrepentant heart:
We need grace both to overcome sinful weeds and to grow divine flowers. We can do neither one fully by ourselves. But grace is not cheap. It is very expensive, even very dear. How much does this grace cost? Is it enough simply to believe in Christ? The man who found the pearl of great price gave “all that he had” for it. If we desire “all that [the] Father hath,” God asks all that we have. To qualify for such exquisite treasure, in whatever way is ours, we must give the way Christ gave-every drop He had: “How exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.” Paul said, “If so be that we suffer with him,” we are “joint-heirs with Christ.” All of His heart, all of our hearts.
In those words, I comprehended that I was not going to attain the ability to accomplish the mission the Lord had for me, until I gained this intimate knowledge of Him, through the process of repentance. And the only way for me to repent, to attain His grace in my life, was to offer him ALL. Elder Hafen made the further statement which has remained in my heart as a guideline for my behavior:
If we must give all that we have, then our giving only almost everything is not enough. If we almost keep the commandments, we almost receive the blessings. For example, some young people assume they can romp in sinful mud until taking a shower of repentance just before being interviewed for a mission or the temple. In the very act of transgression, some plan to repent. They mock the gift of mercy that true repentance allows.
Some people want to keep one hand on the wall of the temple while touching the world’s “unclean things” with the other hand. We must put both hands on the temple and hold on for dear life. One hand is not evenalmost enough.
I boxed up my romances and gave them to the library (I should have taken them to the dump!). From that time forth, I sought other ways to soothe and comfort myself. I worked two shifts as an ordinance worker and volunteered at the MTC. I worked in the Family History Name Extraction Program. During all this time I was still ill, but I was being prepared and sanctified for my mission. Two years later, I had learned what I needed to know to be forgiven and to be blessed. When the Lord sent me the miracle I needed to overcome my depression, I was ready to proceed.
I did proceed, with a heart full of the Spirit, giving my All for His All. I cannot complete my mission without the enabling power of the atonement to crown my efforts. And I cannot have that gift without giving my “All” for His “All.”
G.G. Vandagriff is the author of twelve books, including the award-winning The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War. Visit her at her website