For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. ~Mosiah 3:19
There is a scene in the 1998 film Ever After: A Cinderella Story that has stuck in my mind for the past 15 years. It goes like this:
Leonardo da Vinci [at the end of the ball]: She came to tell you the truth, and you’ve fed her to the wolves!
Crown Prince Henry: What do you know? You build flying machines and you walk on water, and yet you know nothing about life!
Leonardo da Vinci: I know that a life without love is no life at all.
Henry: And love without trust? What of that?
Leonardo da Vinci: She’s your match, Henry.
Henry: I am but a servant to my crown and I have made my decision. I will not yield!
Leonardo da Vinci: [sighs sadly] Then you don’t deserve her. [leaves behind Danielle's glass slipper]
This pivotal moment when Henry, who in his heart knows he has behaved badly, refuses to admit his folly, has often shown up in my life. At the crux of every disagreement, every wrong I commit, there is a moment when those words echo in my mind. I Will Not Yield!
Of course in the end, Henry does yield, and the result is a humble, beautiful apology. But how much pain and suffering would have been avoided if he had been willing to do so in the first place? And likewise in my own life, how much misery has my pride and stubbornness resulted in when I’m in need of a heaping bowl of humility?
All around us we see examples of problems that have come about because of an unwillingness to humble ourselves. From petty arguments between family members, to the shutdown of the US Government, the resistance to yielding one’s position is nearly embedded in all of us. It’s so pervasive in our “not guilty” society that it’s almost startling when someone quickly takes responsibility and apologizes for their mistakes.
I’ve thought a lot about how we can soften our hearts so that we are more willing to yield to the enticings of the spirit, to do what is right. I’ve wondered what it is about relinquishing our position that we are afraid of. What is it that, even when it’s in our best interest, drives us to steel our resolve and dig in our heels when in our hearts we know we should give ourselves over?
The pursuit to accept personal responsibility when we err is one of the greatest human endeavors. Though the consequences may be expensive, embarrassing, painful, or difficult to endure, the outcome of this decision is becoming a more humble, christlike person. And any time we’re becoming more like him, the Savior supports us and will help us through.
When I was on my mission, someone shared the classic Beware of Pride talk that President Benson had given, and I turned to my companion and said “I’ve never really struggled with pride before. It’s just not something that’s a problem for me”, and I could not have been more sincere – I was utterly earnest at that moment.
The irony of my statement didn’t hit me for a little while, but when it did, it became the silliest inside joke my companion and I ever shared. We laugh about it to this day, and I will never forget the look on her face as she listened to me say that. Because just about everyone on the earth struggles with some form of pride at some point, and that pride contributes to the ruin of families, friendships, neighborhoods, communities, businesses, governments and the natural world.
So when I find myself in this position, I think of Prince Henry and that moment when he adamantly would not yield, and I try to soften and allow myself to be led back on track. It doesn’t always work, but I keep trying.
What helps you to be accountable when you’ve been in the wrong?