It was your typical Monday night in Provo. Family Home Evening groups from the Provo YSA wards were getting together and getting to know one another. I was chatting with a few guys from my group. Someone asked whether we would rather be trusted or loved. The conversation took an interesting turn and resulted in the following comment,
“God doesn’t trust each of us the same. That’s why He created degrees of glory. You’ll go to the one depending on how much He trusts.”
Upon hearing this comment, my mouth had fallen open. I couldn’t even respond.
It’s interesting the things we hear in our Mormon Culture. Everyone has opinions and interpretations. Often times, comments are made that we don’t exactly agree with. We try to base our interpretations and understanding on doctrine and yet, that doesn’t stop misunderstanding from occurring.
As I pondered on this thought later, I couldn’t help but wonder if others thought this too. Was it just some anomaly in this one individuals thinking or a widespread misunderstanding? Does God really not trust us? I decided to find out.
Does God Really NOT Trust Me?
The first stop on my answer quest was asking others what they thought about God and trust. After discussing the question “Does God trust you?” with 40 individuals of differing ages, backgrounds, and opinions I found the following:
Many Latter-day Saints emphatically answer “Yes! Of course.”
And yet, some people are not so enthusiastic. They respond with “I think..” and “I guess..” and “I would assume so…”
But why the doubt?
“I’ve messed up so many times. I don’t even trust myself.” A young righteous Latter-day Saint woman answered. It lead me to wonder, do we project our feelings of inadequacy on our perfect Father in Heaven?
Maybe this is what the boy in my FHE group was getting at. Maybe, he meant that he doesn’t trust himself, thus God shouldn’t either. We all fall short. We sin time and time again. When God gives us new chances, do we give it our best shot to do it right this time? Not always; and when we mess up for what feels like the 70 times 7th time, we lose trust in ourselves.
We don’t think God trusts us because of sin.
“Does God trust you?” I asked a 26 year old mother living in California.
“I guess. He put me in charge of a child.”
The profundity of this statement caught me off guard. Our own agency isn’t the only evidence of the trust of God in our lives. He also gives us the opportunity to rear His children in mortality. This mother at times doesn’t feel worthy of that trust. In truth, we are not always worthy and we are not perfect, but the Lord is perfect. And He has set about the means by which we too can eventually come to know that perfection.
“I know He trusts me because He lets me mess up and still blesses me.” A college student studying English remarked.
A twenty-three year old gave his opinion similarly: “He allows me to make wrong decisions with the desire that I will learn from my mistakes and trust him more.”
Each time we do partake of the atonement, we prove to God that we believe in His plan and we prove that His trust in us exists. Each time we correct our behavior, ask forgiveness, reach out to one of His children with an apology, and seek to change our habits, we prove our worthiness. It does not matter how many times we fall short, for Christ will always be there to make up the difference as long as we try.
The Lord will always love us even if we feel we are not worthy of that love. Trust works the same way.
“Agency takes it’s chances,” a fifty year old LDS mother responded to the question of whether or not God trusts us, “The Lord was willing to risk that in order that we might walk by faith and as free, independent agents, choose the right.”
There are days when I wonder if He holds hope for me at all. Am I worth that risk?
“I’m just going to keep making stupid decisions until I don’t anymore.” I told my mother only weeks ago. Granted, I was experiencing a trial I was fed up with. But how could God trust someone with that attitude?
Does the Trust of God Apply to Those Who Continually Makes Mistakes?
Could God trust someone with an attitude like mine? With my bullheaded nature was I worth the risk that the woman above had mentioned? And what about this degrees of glory misunderstanding? None of those I have interviewed had answered these questions, so I turned to the books.
What I found first was a definition of trust that is often overlooked: hoping or expecting a behavior or result from someone.
He declared that Himself, “This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
God’s hope for us is eternal.
We all started with the same potential to return to Him and become as He is. How we respond to that trust is entirely up to us.
In the scriptures we are told that our Father knew us before He sent us here, He knew what we were capable of accomplishing. He does not send us trials and opportunities without a hope that we will come out triumphant. He knows what we need in order to progress. Our all-knowing Heavenly Father does not give us anything we cannot overcome with His help and through the atonement of Christ, the opportunities to return to Him are endless.
The proof is in the scriptures:
God’s aid is available to all who are willing to trust in Him.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.”
There is a God who trusts in our efforts and our ability to repent and choose His ways. We are not offered those things because we couldn’t be trusted to choose rightly without them, but because God is merciful. And that mercy, is extended to all of us, not a select few, for God “is not a respecter of persons.”
What does Trust have to do with Heaven?
With that finished, I turned to the degrees of glory dilemma.
We, as Latter-day Saints, believe in degrees of glory that coordinate to the degree of righteousness we lived on this earth.
According to the Doctrine and Covenants, there are three degrees of glory. The Telestial, the Terrestial, and the Celestial kingdom—which is the highest degree of glory, and which we Latter-day Saints strive to achieve, because it is within that kingdom that we can be in the presence of God. In this kingdom, we can come to know perfection.
We also learn within that book of scripture that those who will enter the Celestial kingdom will be those just men made perfect through the atonement of Jesus Christ, the Mediator. There is nothing about trust mentioned in these verses.
Yes, those who enter the Celestial kingdom will be those who are worthy to be in the presence of God. But what I came to learn was that God has not put a worth on you, a set amount of trust or love for which you qualify based on that worthiness.
In the eyes of God, we are equals whose worth surpasses our own understanding.
Days ago, I looked into the mirror and only saw inadequacy. I’m not cool or mysterious. Boys don’t drool over my beauty. I constantly fall short in both my academic work and my extracurricular involvement. I lose my temper. I say mean things. What am I worth to God?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
I am worth the life of an innocent man. The perfect Son of God, my brother, Jesus Christ.
I am worth the Atonement—we all are—which was put into motion by that perfect loving Heavenly Father, not because He didn’t trust us to make it back, but because we cannot without the grace and mercy of Christ. God trusts that we will partake of the gift of the atonement in order to cleanse us of our sins and create within ourselves just men and women.
You will not end up in the Terrestrial Kingdom because the Lord can’t trust you to behave correctly in the Celestial Kingdom. Our actions and righteous efforts directly dictate what we are worthy of. We prove to the Lord through our daily partaking in that atonement that we are worthy to live with Him forever.
It is alright that we are imperfect right now because of the atonement and God’s love. In fact Elder Holland told us in the April 2012 General conference,
“However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have . . . I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.”
Okay, I Have the Trust of God. But Do I Trust Him?
The only real question I was left with upon concluding my study, was ‘Do I Trust God?’. God has given us agency, trials, and the atonement. This is how I know that God trusts me, perfectly. He is a perfect God with a perfect plan.
But in my darkest moments, do I trust He is there?
A friend of mine who struggles with depression expressed this thought,
“I know Heavenly Father trusts me in my darkest moments when I feel so alone and reach out and there’s no one there. That’s when I know He trusts me the most, because I know He is there but He’s just out of reach saying ‘There’s a reason I’m not right by your side right now. Don’t forget I’m right here but you just need to take the step to reach me. It’ll be worth it, I promise.'”
If we take that step, we prove our trust in God. A trust that is reciprocated 100%. Don’t believe me? Do what I did, and find out for yourself. Let me know in the comments what you find.