I was asked to speak on self reliance as it relates to Adam and Eve at a RS meeting this past week. These were my thoughts-
My 17 year-old brother was discussing the matter of gardening with my parents just the other week. Now, he definitely is a teenager so parents and what parents do is EXACTLY opposite of what he wants to do… even if they are eating ice cream! BUT, I really feel like the generation of teens right now really feels like they are entitled to all the earth! That is another discussion for another day, but he just couldn’t understand the idea of growing a garden. For one, he was asking about the financial incentive, but he also was questioning the work when you can just “go buy” from the grocery store. He honestly just thought that gardening was a “hobby.”
I have mentioned before and will mention again how much I love Adam and Eve. There is a reason why there is so much focus on them in the temple! It was mentioned that Adam and Eve are really hard to relate to because they lived so long ago. I beg to differ! They are the perfect role models for each of us and our relationships. However, I do think that the idea of learning self-reliance from them is a little tricky and, as I have found, really subjective.
Through all my reading and studies this week, I feel that Adam and Eve did teach us about self-reliance… but not like our “year of food supply, 72-hour kit, bomb shelter” kind of self-reliance. They taught us about self-reliance through relying on God.
We are asked to become self reliance to learn; learn responsibility, work, equality, and to be more like god. On top of this we can grow a stronger relationship with God and in our marriage.
The first reason for self-reliance is that we need to learn responsibility. We have to take care of ourselves and to learn that, we have to learn how to take care of something like a garden or finances. While Adam and eve were in the garden, they were given freedom to take care of the garden. I believe this was in preparation to go out into the “world.” So while our children are in our “garden” we can prepare them to be responsible outside of the “garden” as God did for Adam and Eve. I don’t think that they were responsible for the garden though. This is why… the definition of responsibility is: The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something… Adam and Eve weren’t accountable for anything in the garden because they didn’t have opposition. It wasn’t until they partook of the fruit that they became accountable. Plus, in the second article of faith it says that we are accountable for our own sins and not for Adam’s sin. So we are to learn responsibility in self-reliance so that it will transfer to other areas of our lives and we will know that to have anything worthwhile, we need to be responsible for our actions.
Secondly, we need to be self-reliant to learn equality. The state of being equal means to be the same in status, rights, and opportunities. Self-reliance teaches us that we all have equal opportunities to learn and grow. Adam and Eve became equal in their work load of collecting food and getting themselves shelter. I honestly don’t think Eve was a diva and sat down while Adam built a shelter around her! If that were so, she wouldn’t be respected in our religion as much as she is (however, I do think she is misunderstood lots). We also learn from self-reliance that we all have the status of living creatures (that we all need to take care of ourselves or we die) and that we all have rights to what can be produced out of the ground… it is not one person’s right to grow and another to consume… that is inequality.
Third is the knowledge of work that we learn. In order for living things to function, they need to take care of themselves. And this takes effort and work. Back to the idea of entitlement… I really feel that God has asked us to be self-reliant because he knew that our world would feel entitled to things without working for it. We have renters in New York in our rental properties that think we should pay for their rent… when they don’t have jobs and aren’t working two keep the rental property taken care of!!! Obviously this idea of entitlement is a vicious parasite… how do we teach our children (and ourselves) that entitlement isn’t an eternal principle? By work… work is an eternal principle and won’t stop after death! We know that missionary work goes on after death and we know that we will be able to create worlds and more children after death… and if you think that it won’t take work, then you need to be pulled back to reality by potty training a toddler! :) Actually, we can see this because again, Adam and eve worked in the garden and Adam worked to help create the earth. It is also mentioned that Adam was cursed to eat by the “sweat of his brow all the days of his life, for his good.” For his good… that work is good.
I also think that self-reliance helps us to be humble. We not only have to rely on God for ends to meet and to fully let go of relying on our parents, friends, etc. But I also have been humbled with the help that I have received from others as they have brought over parts of their harvest (like zucchini) to share.
Finally we are to learn to be more like God. God created the earth for the use of man. We are tending to God’s creations with respect and love… and then we will learn what God is like. I know that when I am outdoors and have my hands in the dirt, that I feel closer to God. I know that taking care of my finances and being frugal helps me rely more on God and then I feel closer to him.
Isn’t God perfect in these things that we have talked about: responsibility, equality, and work? Would he ask us to be self-reliant if he wasn’t?
As a side note, and my final note, I feel like self-reliance helps us grow a stronger marriage/relationship with our spouse and God. We have to work together to be self-reliant and that is ultimately what Adam and Eve show us in their examples. Eve was created from Adam’s rib (not head or foot)… but right in the middle to become a helpmeet… a companion, and equal. As we carry the burden of being self-reliant, we can look to Adam and eve’s example. They worked and learned together to live in this world outside of the Garden. They needed one another to keep going. Eve wasn’t planting and sowing while Adam was eating the harvest. They worked as one and so can we as we let go of others and are self-reliant together. In a sense, self-reliance isn’t being alone as the word self implies, it allows for a more full joy on this earth as we draw closer to god (and our spouse if we are married) because we are learning eternal principles and practices.