Elder Marvin J. Ashton said: “Every worthy change means risk–the risk of losing an old and damaging habit for a new and improved way of life. If fear and an unwillingness to take the risk and challenge of the better way of life gain the upper hand, we will not be able to change…. Even the chains of fear can be broken by those who will humbly seek God’s help and strength.” Humility is mentioned three times in Ether 12:27: “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Humility is an essential part of preparing to have God remove my character weaknesses.
I think the most important thing for me in becoming ready to ask God to remove my character weaknesses is that I trust that He can do it, that He’s willing to do it, and that I am truly ready to offer them up–to let go of the things I’ve clung to for safety and to instead reach out and grasp the hand the Lord offers me.
What will I be giving up? I have identified four things to offer up to the Lord at this time: Anger, Fear, Low Self-worth, and Pride.
Anger isn’t safety – it’s self harm. I thought I was protecting myself with anger, but safety comes from hearing and following the spirit. Without anger I would be able feel the Spirit, because anger drives away the Spirit. I would be able receive direction and comfort.
Fear makes me vulnerable to catastrophes that haven’t happened. It makes me live in a world of impending doom continuously. If I give away fear, I can receive peace and the strength to meet real challenges without dreading imagined ones. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
Low self-worth is a combination of a focus on me combined with a focus on my fears. It makes me feel that I am not worthy to receive, or that people wouldn’t want to be around me. When I see myself through God’s eyes, I see the potential for good. And that gives me both hope and power.
Pride manifests itself when I am judgmental of others. One of my favorite scriptures is Micah 6:8: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” If I love mercy, I will show it to others as well as receive it myself.
As I look at all of these, what I give up is not safety but misery-inducing behaviors. What I receive is not risk, but greater trust in the Lord and safety wrapped in the arms of His love.