A few weeks ago I was asked to talk in Sacrament Meeting about the topic Honesty with Self.
I was so nervous of crying in front of everyone that I forced myself to keep my focus on the page in front of me rather than on the congregation and I put forth a lot of effort maintaining a steady voice. Therefore, I’m afraid that I wasn’t the best orator…but I didn’t care. I was just so happy to have gotten through it without a major breakdown!
Studying for this talk (as always, it seems) was a blessing.
This is not a full transcript of my talk but it’s mostly intact. I’m not going to take the time to rewrite it for reading, but you’ll get the idea.
Honesty with Self
There were a few times the last two weeks where I was this close to backing out but decided that being asked to talk on this subject wasn’t mere coincidence and that I needed to go through with it.
I have to admit that not many of the following words are not mine. I ended up using about 8 different conference talks and gospel doctrine lessons.
The Issue is Truth
How can we be honest with others if we aren’t honest with ourselves?? Is it even possible?
Satan is the father of all lies. ALL lies. Not just the big lies. Not just the lies we tell others. But Satan is even the father of the lies that we tell ourselves.
The Savior constantly rebuked those who professed one thing publicly but lived differently in their hearts.
Wars in the inner self that are fought subconsciously, leading to defeats or overreactions, which also hurt us subconsciously.
Subconscious DEFEATS are reflected in our conscious life as a lack of self-confidence, lack of happiness, lack of faith.
Subconscious OVERREACTIONS lead to pride, arrogance, indecency, or cruelty. Our minds can play tricks of reason to impress others, to get gain, to intimidate, or to manipulate. These are the vain results of deceit.
Christ often spoke of blessing us with answers, gifts, faith, and other spiritual gifts if we but have an honest heart.
The only way to find truth is through uncompromising self-education…to see the “real me,” the child of God, in its innocence and potential.
Howard W. Hunter said that when we promote an honest, earnest integrity within ourselves, it will be one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives.
5 Categories of Self-Honesty
So how do we find our true nature? How do we self-educate ourselves to find the level of our self-awareness?
I thought of five categories of self-honesty that we can contemplate on and answer in order to truly know ourselves and thus find the “Real Me,” The Child of God.
1- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Feelings
Repressing and controlling our feelings is a form of self-manipulation that we all, at times, perform in an effort to control others people’s responses to us. We could be seeking responses of approval…or…we could be trying to protect ourselves from their hurt, anger, or displeasure with us.
When we choose to deny our feelings, inevitably our life and relationships with others begin to feel unfulfilling and superficial. This is the price that we pay when we are more committed to avoiding upsets than we are to living and interacting with authenticity and integrity.
To combat this damaging cycle, we must recognize and identify our feelings as they arise. We must let ourselves experience them. By doing so, we will be better able to honor ourselves and others through honest and productive communication and actions.
2- We Must Be honest with Ourselves About Our Own Desires
“For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts”
Notice that the Lord combines the two…works and desires. They inevitably go together, no matter how often we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
Neal A. Maxwell said, “Our desires profoundly affect the use of our moral agency…even when we do not really want the consequences of our desires.”
For good or for bad, “What we insistently desire is what we will eventually become because “God granteth unto men according to their desires.”
We must acknowledge our responsibility for our desires. Lukewarm desires cause apathy, melancholy. Righteous desires need to be relentless. We must know them and love them and allow them to move us forward, closer to Christ.
3- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Weaknesses
Larry R. Lawrence says we have to ask ourselves some difficult questions, like “What weakness needs strengthening?” “What is keeping me from progressing?”
The perfect time to ask ourselves these questions is when we take the sacrament and our hearts are turned toward heaven. This allows the Holy Ghost to gently and reverently tell us what we can do. “The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time.”
President Uchtdorf reminds us, “There is a difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.”
We should be persistent but never discouraged at our inability to reach perfection. In our mortal life, we are just meant to lay the foundation for the perfection we will obtain in the next life.
4- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Strengths
Just as the spirit can show us our weaknesses, he can also show us our strengths.
“For there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited.”
When we begin to examine our strengths and capabilities, we can’t get caught up in comparisons and recognitions. Those aren’t true measures of our gifts.
President Uchtdorf said, “We too easily and too often get caught up in seeking the honors of men rather than serving the Lord with all our might, mind, and strength. Individual recognition is rarely an indication of the value of our service.”
He also said, “God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived…are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior’s example and spend the days of their lives doing good.”
5- We Must Be Honest with Ourselves About Our Own Testimony
Our testimony is a knowledge of the truth, a knowledge that is felt in our heart even when our mind doesn’t know. Each of us will be tested, tempted, and tried on our testimonies…to find out if we will remain true.
Robert D. Hales said, “Doubts can be resolved when an honest desire to know the truth leads you to exercising moral, spiritual, and mental effort. Only after that can we gain a testimony of the TRUTHFULNESS of the Gospel through the Holy Ghost.”
“Having dropped all pride of your mental stature, having acknowledged before God your confusion, having subjected your egotism, and having surrendered yourself to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, you are ready to begin to learn.”
“Mere passive acceptance of the doctrines will not give the testimony.” You have to fight for a testimony and you have to keep fighting.
We must live and share our testimony. It will assist others who are searching for the truth and wanting to embrace the truth.
Spencer W. Kimball said, “The truth you seek is tied to the person you are. Light, spiritual answers, and heavenly direction are unalterably linked to your own honesty and truth.”
Once we reflect and ponder and pray about these truths of ourselves, then what? Do we compare our truths to someone else’s truths? Do we wallow in our shortcomings? Do we give up on our never-ending, unreachable path to perfection? Do we convince ourselves that it’s impossible to be 100% truthful in all things?
Enlightened by the Spirit of truth, we will then be able to pray for the increased ability to endure truth. In the depth of such a prayer, we may finally be led to that lonesome place where we suddenly see ourselves naked in all soberness. Gone are all the little lies of self-defense. We are shocked to see our many deficiencies.
But that’s good.
This is that place where true repentance is born. This is that place where conversion happens.
As the hymn goes,
More holiness give me,…
More patience in suff’ring
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior
More tears for his sorrows
More pain at his grief
More meekness in trial
More praise for relief
When we allow ourselves to feel the truth in our feelings, our desires, our weaknesses, our strengths, and our testimony…this is the place where we suddenly see the heavens open… as we feel the full impact of the love of our Heavenly Father, which fills us with indescribable joy.
Truth is knowledge of ourselves as we were, as we are, and as we are to come…The knowledge that we are each a Child of God.