I do not like to disagree with the apostles but I have a perspective that is different from the language that is being spoken of by them at times. It is not that we are at odds in doctrine; it is the manner of expression that distresses me. It has to do with regards to the witness and care giving of the self. I believe in self love. I believe the second commandment that says we must love our neighbor as your self. I have had to struggle through a world full of people that do not have an understanding of or acceptance of them selves and because of this live contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ and cause great harm.
When the apostles use language like this from the Women’s General Conference in 2013 I shudder and want to cry out.
“When your primary thoughts are focused on how things will benefit you, your motivations may be selfish and shallow. That is not the language you want to learn.” President Uchtdorf said this in the middle of a wonderful talk. (http://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/general-young-women-meeting/2013/03/your-wonderful-journey-home?lang=eng# Your Wonderful Journey Home) I believe that it is true, but I also believe that it is misleading and can be very damaging when used by those with evil intent and I know that there are such people and I know that many who have grown up in homes of emotional and verbal abuse are easy victims to the adversary’s temptation to beat themselves up when they hear this type of thing.
I would like to see the clarification of “you” being the “natural man” that part of us that we each walk in to some degree and must learn to master. However, there is a true you that President Uchtdorf very eloquently spoke of and, if we do what will benefit that valiant person that he spoke of us being in the pre-existence, our motives will be anything but “selfish and shallow”. I really believe that we need to be aware of this distinction and speak of it honorably because there are too many people that are oppressed by others and by themselves. They believe that if they do what is right for them they are on a team other than Christ’s and that is just not so, even though it would appear that this is what the church is teaching. I know very well that it is not what they mean to be teaching.
How do I say this respectfully and with humility is the question? How to live it and be allowed to live it in a church where the language can get confused is another. I have studied the gospel of Jesus Christ and the words of the living prophets. Until just recently I had so much work to do on myself I could not look with “healthy eyes” at these things because of the mote I had in my own. This mote had a lot to do with my running to my addictions and weaknesses of choice when I could not meet the standard or desires of those around me or when I could not meet what I believed where the needs of my children.
By the power of the Holy Ghost I understand that there is no way that I would ever be found acceptable in the company of the culture of the saints. I really have known that all along. I am here because the Spirit bore witness to me that I would be able to learn the things of Christ here and have greater understanding than the gospels alone could give me. I am not whining here, I am just stating fact.
I am considered a “sick one” or one that they must carry along because of my family of origin issues that hold such things as extreme physical and chemical abuse as well as incest. I am not listened to as someone who can meet the heights of comprehension in the church because I speak from a place of such depravity. (Although they do allow me to hold a temple recommend. Though it was taken away temporarily recently because of my bearing sincere testimony that seemed to say not all is as well in the church as we would like it to be or that made people, heaven forbid, uncomfortable.)
At the same time we are all member missionaries and the prophet has said that as we live close to the truth we will understand things and the scriptures testify that we are to speak to one another about our weaknesses that we see so that we do not remain in sin. (See Leviticus 19:17) It may well be that I am hyper-sensitive to certain language but I believe that the state of the world allows me to speak up, even if it is just in defense of or in behalf of one individual who may misinterpret.
Did you know that the scriptures speak a great deal about verbal and emotional abuse? It is not something that is new among mankind or that Heavenly Father is not very aware of. When one accepts the reality of this pandemic, instead of hiding behind the attitude of turning away when we see abuse and giving the offender the benefit of the doubt or “not saying anything at all if we cannot say something nice”. Once we have cleaned up our own sins through repentance and faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, in spite of the weaknesses of those around us and set our heart singly upon God, these things will be revealed to us, along with many other mysteries of God. These are the promises that are held within the scriptures!
In the meantime, let us not be afraid to lift up our eternal selves and seek to find joy in the life that we have been given. Natural man can be overcome and we can do that which serves our true and eternal selves. The way to do this is to serve the living God with an eye single to his glory and follow the commandments of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. We can live today in God’s presence by being ever mindful of Christ, having our hearts pouring out in thanksgiving for all of the opportunities, and challenges, that we have in life as we learn to accept eternal life and fulfill the purpose of our creation. May the Holy Spirit be with you as you consider the things that I have shared is my prayer. I hope you will listen to his talk and embrace the principles of truth and comfort that President Uchtdorf shares with us and understand that I fully sustain him in his great work as an apostle of the Lord.
Till we meet again, Namaste.