Thursday, November 4, 2010

Doubt Not

Are you your biggest fan?

If not, are you at least in the fan club? I find applying the gospel of Jesus Christ to be a difficult task for those who are overly critical of themselves.

As an experiment, you might try to count how many times day you lie to yourself. Whenever we have thoughts like, "I'm terrible at __(righteous activity)__" or "I'm just not a good at being a __(role)__," we're lying to ourselves. If we think these thoughts as that which defines us, and thereby define our eternal well-being based upon what we see in the mirror today, we'll always be wrong. They're lies because they're "mortally flawed," they're finite representations of infinite souls, and therefore miss the big picture which includes eternal progression and eventual perfection.

I've heard that psychologists refer to these thoughts as "bad tapes," as though they are negative audio tracks we play in our mind over and over. (For those of you who didn't experience the 80's, this is what a tape is). Apparently, these psychologists instruct they're patients to replace these thoughts with "good tapes" - thoughts like, "I'm wonderful at __(righteous activity)__," or "I'm a great __(role)__," - which are unfortunately still lies, just on the other end of the optimism spectrum.

I understand the Lord's solution to the problem to be a little different. He counsels us to fill our minds with truth:
D&C 6: 36-37
  36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
  37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.

When you and I think bad thoughts about ourselves, that should serve as our reminder that we need to "look unto" Christ and "behold" his righteousness and redemption. The bad thoughts really are just thoughts of doubt, based upon fear. If we replace those thoughts with statements of faith rather than another (although it even be an optimistic) lie, we find real and true strength in the Lord.

I had to do this back in August. There arose a small extended family debate which stimulated a number of pretty high emotions among our extended family. The infamous plague of the 21st century occured: misunderstanding caused by tone of email. It came to a point where a sibling and I had to meet in person to talk things through. Personally, I was very nervous about the meeting. I felt sure that it could erupt into a very painful argument, so I dreaded the upcoming Saturday morning when we were to get together. In the days preceding, I prayed for help and asked that Heavenly Father would help me get control of my emotions and speak with love and reason. Still, Saturday morning came and as I drove to the place where we were to meet, my mind was flooding with nervous, fear-based thoughts of how terrible this could turn out. However, about half way to the destination, I had this string of thoughts I've tried to articulate above, and said to myself, "Mark, where's your faith? You've prayed a ton for help, and now it's time to trust that that help will come."

So my method was to bear testimony. This is comfortable and familiar for most latter-day saints - we make vocal declaration of those things we feel we know to be true by heavenly inspiration. So, I thought, in relation to this event, what can I attest to be truth. I started saying (out loud even though I was all alone) things like, "I know that my prayers have been heard and I know that He can do this," and "I know the Savior was able to have inner peace even when suffering shame, so He will help me, too."

The rest of the story is as you would expect. It was the most enjoyable (and meaningful) conversation I've had with an extended family member in a very long time. The spirit of the Lord was with us. I remember feeling that day that we had overcome through faith.

We have hundreds of times each week when we could apply these thoughts. Doubt not, be faithful, try your very best to keep the commandments, and you and I will make it.

1 comment:

  1. I just got finnished reading President Uchdorf's talk "Of the Things That Matter Most" from this most recent Conference. I love the part where he talks about the 4 fundemental relationships. I needed these "reminders". I think it is true that I make alot more mistakes when I try to speed up during turbulent times. I get impatient and want problems solved immeadiately and therefore respond without being prayeful or sensitive to the spirit.

    Sometimes the turbulence I face is completely avoidable... it comes from overcomplicating my life, when I try to solve simple problems in a web of distractions I have spun for myself.

    So I think the message for me today is when I start to get overwhelmed or discouraged I need to slow down, evaluate the situation, be prayerful and clear away the distracitons so I can more readily feel the Spirit and see things as "they really are and as they really will be".

    Thanks for this post it went perfect with my studies today. :)

    Now all I need to do is "remember."