I was scared going into my meeting. I do trust God, I do have faith in the Atonement, I do believe that God can turn my weaknesses into strengths, I do believe that turning to Him in faith to ask Him to remove my shortcomings will strengthen my faith in very desirable ways—but I am terrified of giving up what has been my safety all my life. I am scared of the vulnerability to hurt and pain and destruction that will result from having my shortcomings removed, those admittedly undesirable traits that have protected me. How can I live without them?
I thought of a mighty change of heart, a new heart, a “clean heart and a right spirit” as being me at my very best, with all of my good qualities in the forefront and my negative ones nicely tucked away. But now I realize it is a real change, a change from who I am to someone infinitely better, someone who’s not hanging onto those coping mechanisms for a rainy day. It’s not a tidied-up stony heart the Lord promises, it’s a new heart, a fleshy heart, a heart that can be bruised. A heart that’s willing to break. A heart that can take risks because it trusts in the Lord and not in behaviors that were protective when I didn’t know there was a better alternative.
But I still feel like I’m clinging to a trapeze, unwilling to let go and reach for the next ring that will carry me forward. I’m just so scared to let go. And I can’t ask Him to remove my shortcomings until I’m ready to relax my grip on them.
This is what I can do: I can observe my shortcomings. I can see when I use them, observe how I retreat into them, simply observe without judgment and without shame. Yesterday I was mad at something. I asked myself “why?” and realized it was from fear of being unseen, of not mattering, of a whole gender not mattering. When I recognized that, I also realized that I am not a child, with a child’s limited resources. I can respond in more effective ways than just anger. But for now, I’m just going to continue to observe. That feels right, and if I don’t complete this step in a week, there are more weeks to come.
We read today: “We surrender our weakness and patiently wait for the process to begin, and ‘suddenly, it becomes time to change. We begin to notice that behavior. We bump into it, over and over again…. I’ve noticed that the closer I come to being healed of a certain defect or issue, the harder it becomes to live with myself and that issue. It glares. It bites. It stands right there in my way.’ …the Spirit of the Lord will prompt us when we are faced with situations where our weaknesses are easily manifested ‘giving us opportunities either to repeat our same old responses or practice something new.’ …Rather than expecting instant perfection, we should focus on progressing one day at a time. …We accept ourselves, as we travel at our own pace towards spiritual growth.”
So for now, when I feel anger arising, I will simply observe and ask myself “What am I protecting against?” And I will trust the process and the Lord to take the time that is needed to start a mighty change