Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Can't I Learn Humility Some Other Way?

The other day, I caught myself beginning to obsess about some things that someone said about me. Whenever I am criticized, my habit at first is to panic. Could it be true? Could I really be that incompetent/ petty/ jealous/ angry/ whatever? Is there some major flaw in my character I'm not seeing that I need to fix RIGHT AWAY OR I WON'T BE LOVED?!?

One of my besetting sins is to continually desire perfection. Lest ye think that this is some pseudo-sin, let me assure you it is not. It has affected my relationships with people, myself, and even God. Most of my sorrow in life has been brought about because I was trying so hard to be good and failed. Again and again and again.*

My life-scripture, the one that seems to come up over and over again, is the Lord's words to Moroni. Moroni was looking at the testimony he had written and comparing it to the power the Lord had granted him in speaking. (I wonder what I wouldn't give to actually hear the words of those ancient prophets. If their written words are weak, then imagine the power of God present in their speech!)

Like Moroni, I see unflattering contrast between what I desire and what actually happens. I feel the power of God move in me, but I look at what I do and it is so weak in comparison to what I WANT to be doing. I long for human spiritual connection the way Moroni longed to Spiritually connect, and believe deep down that I have to be perfect to get it.

The Lord says to Moroni, "I give unto men weakness that they may be humble."

I hate weakness. I hate forgiving and then finding myself having to forgive again. I hate feeling like I don't know the rules to the game of life, and if only I knew them I could do them and everyone would love me. I hate feeling occasionally angry, tired, cranky, depressed or jealous when underneath it I have less than no desire to be any of those things, EVER.

And yet, I'm coming to understand that I will never be strong, and that is a good thing. So long as I use my weakness to look at myself and realize that I am not God, that weakness can change me for the better. If I come to accept that weakness, to ignore it, or worse to revel in it, I remain caught in pride and unable to serve the Lord.

So even though I see my weakness and ache to be rid of it, I am trying my best to forgive myself, to not obsess over all the things I do wrong, but to focus on what I'm doing right RIGHT NOW. I don't think it is coincidence that we later hear from Moroni one of the most powerful discourses on charity extant.

And maybe if I'm more humble, I'll be receptive when the Lord uses my weaknesses to further His purposes.

*As a side note, I I read a recent paper that discusses homosexuality and realized how many of those traits I shared. It got me thinking about ways of thinking in general (metathinking!) and how many of the principles described in that therapy could help with other issues.


  1. About the difference between what you are and what you want to be, I think the key is that you notice that there is a difference and you continue to strive to close that gap. I think that having that desire is at least half of the battle.

    I take some comfort from D&C 137:9 where we are told that we will be judged not only by our works but also the desire of our hearts.

  2. Setting perfection aside, have you given yourself permission to succeed?

  3. I am impressed by the link to Dr. Jeffrey Robinson, by what it says to all of us-- well, me-- about applying the gospel in our lives.

    often we understand the part of the gospel that says, “Obey. Keep this commandment. Don't do this, don't do that. Repent. Be good. Be outstanding. Be perfect.” We get that part of the gospel; that just sinks into us, and we get it. It's an important part of the gospel, and boy, we get a hundred percent there. We understand it completely.

    But the part of the gospel that talks about redemption, atonement, unconditional love, being born again, the love of the Savior--that confuses us. We don't really understand it. We don't really get it. We could give a great sacrament meeting talk on it, we know how all the words fit together. But in our hearts, that part of the gospel confuses us. Many of us think to ourselves as though, “I can accept the atonement of Jesus Christ after I've repented and overcome this and left all this alone. After I've done this, then I can accept the atonement to kind of clean up the mess I made along the way. But not right now, not while I'm so bad. I've got to overcome this on my own, and then the atonement is available to me.” It's the equivalent of saying, “I can accept the atonement as soon as I prove I don't need it, as soon as I prove I don't need it.”

  4. Exactly, staceyvalderama. I think that paper has a scope far wider than homosexuality. I would have talked about some of its thoughts more specifically, but I did NOT want this to be another homosexuality discussion.

    It drives up blog numbers, but that's not really what I'm about. ;)

  5. Thank you for this. I just found your site through ZD. I have many things very, very similar to this written in my paper journal. You're the first person to have articulated my exact thoughts: "I hate feeling like I don't know the rules to the game of life, and if only I knew them I could do them and everyone would love me." Oh. My. Goodness. So much time spent with that statement.

    Thank you, thank you. I'm not the only one.


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