Lately, I have been thinking about this topic, its a topic that can very much be universal and something we all face in our lives. We face it in different stages and in different ways. It's the topic of being hard on yourself or beating yourself up, putting yourself down or however you want to call it. Being hard on yourself effects everyone at some point and in some way. For some, it can be severe and a constant feeling of being hard on yourself, that's how I was. For others, it may just be a fleeting thought that only lasts a little while. Whether its big or small, difficult or easy to deal with, it may be something we all face. It's something I have faced for the past few years.
About three and a half years ago, I made necessary changes in my life. I used the Atonement in such a strong way while working with my priesthood leaders. It was a hard and difficult change, but since that day that I was rescued by Christ, I started to become hard on myself. Any mistake that I made big or small I would deride myself. At times it would be hard to get over it. I was pretty ridiculous at times. Even when I was a missionary I struggled with it, some days were so tough because I would blame myself all the time. I remember in one of my areas, Valley Forge, PA., a trusted member of the Ward I was serving in and now a great friend, taught me something I have not forgotten and will never forget. He himself struggled with being hard on himself to the same degree I was. One night after my nightly prayers I texted him and asked: "How do you deal with being hard on yourself so easily? You seem to handle it perfectly. I'm struggling with it and need your advice." He texted me back and said: "Elder Carraway, I want you to get on your knees and ask Heavenly Father to see yourself through his eyes." So I got back on my knees and ask my father in heaven that question. Pleading that I would see what he sees when he looks at me. The answer didn't come all at once, but pieces at a time. Since that night I have asked Heavenly Father that same question and He has answered me and showed me what he sees when he looks at me. Its beautiful. What Heavenly Father sees us as and sees us becoming is remarkable!
Heavenly Father cares less about the mistakes we have made, what we have done or what we did not do. Heavenly Father cares more about where we are now and with his hand where we can end up. He sees the big picture, we see a small spec. If any of you reading this is struggling, I would ask you to do as was suggested to me. Pray to your Father in Heaven and ask to see yourself with his eyes, I promise, you'll be surprised with the results.
David O. McKay once said: “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.” Since going through this trial I have thought a lot about it and what I have learned. Though I don't struggle with it as much anymore, I do face a little of it day by day. But thinking about it realizing that life is a process. Making mistakes, even sinning, is part of that process. Cut yourself some slack and trust in God. Believe God when He tells you how good you are. He readily extends His forgiveness. You'll be surprised at how quickly He does forgive you.
Three things stick out to me that I've learned the most about this trial:
1. Shame is a tool of Satan. Satan is the master of disguise and wants to belittle us when we make mistakes. He tells us whenever we do wrong, "You are no good. Why even try. God wont accept you now." He seeks to destroy our happiness and darken our path of trying our best. I would always say, and I think a lot of us always say this when we
mess up, "Well, I messed up. I wont do that again." -then you do it
again." I cant believe I did that, I will never do it again." Boom, it
happens again. Then you say: "I can't do this. This is so dumb." Then it
happens again. You start to feel ashamed and that's the way Satan wants us to feel. Christ is the opposite, He wants us to be proud of our efforts but ultimately come unto him and take his hand. Don't be ashamed, don't let Satan tell you how you feel. Listen to the Spirit and trust in God.
2. Don't ever forget who you are when your trying to change. Who we are is essential to changing. The gospel doesn't change who we are, its changes what we are. I love the young woman saying: "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him." I love that. I want to echo that, we are children of our Heavenly Father, He loves us! We are all created differently, we shouldn't let trials or circumstances change 'who' we are, they change the 'what' we are. Don't ever forget who you are! You and I are sons and daughters of God!
3. Just have faith in Christ and you can get through anything. "There is no obstacle too great, no challenge too difficult, that we cannot meet with faith." —Gordon B. Hinckley. Faith can pull us through anything. Faith is beautiful. No matter if it is just a "twig of faith" it can grow and get us through anything. One of my favorite verses in scripture is from Paul: "I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me." (Phil 4:13) Having Faith in Christ and trusting in His ways is what helped me get through. It taught me that with faith anything and everything is possible. Nothing can be denied with Faith in Christ.
I'm extremely grateful for what I've learned from this trial I have gone through. Wish I knew these things during the hardest times. I know God loves us and wont give us any challenge we cant handle. Heavenly Father is in our lives, ready to direct if we ask Him. "Our task is to become our best selves. One of God's greatest gifts
to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final." —Thomas S. Monson. No failure ever need to be final, don't be hard on yourself when mistakes happen or whatever may occur. Cut yourself some slack and trust in God. Get up and keep trying, don't ever quit. The Lord is always waiting in every storm we face, with open arms.
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