What is power?
Power is the ability to progress…to truly move forward in our lives. Progression implies the ability to change for the better.
What things give us power?
That which gives us the greatest power to progress, to change fundamentally and eternally is—integrity.
Integrity is honesty with self. It’s facing the truth about ourselves. It’s being honest with God.
In Alma 31:5 we learn that the word of God has a more powerful effect on the minds of wicked people than the sword or anything else. And Alma thinks it is critical that they try the VIRTUE of the word of God against their enemies rather than going to war against them. So, why would the word of God have more power than the threat of death? Because the word of God is truth.
The scriptures describe truth as “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (Doctrine & Covenants 93:24). Real truth has virtue, or in other words, power. Christ’s power is virtue. In the New Testament, when the woman with the issue of blood touches Him, He says, “I perceive that virtue [or power] is gone out of me” (Luke 8:46).
Christ is the truth, the way, and the light. Meaning, Christ’s power is in truth. The more truth about ourselves we embrace, the more power (through Him) we have to progress.
A lot of people feel that truth is relative. That simply isn’t true. Real truth isn’t susceptible to public, or even personal, opinion. Truth is established by God. So, our integrity fundamentally rests upon our willingness to accept God’s truths about ourselves and about Him.
What things take away our power?
If power is the ability to progress, and progression is dependent upon us being willing and able to face the truths about ourselves and to accept and embrace God’s truths, then it would follow that our power is drained or rendered temporary when we embrace partial truths, false truths, or if we purposefully rebel against truth that we know.
Elder David A. Bednar (2011) in his book Increase in Learning defines knowledge as our understanding of a truth, but intelligence is actually acting on the truth that we know (pp. 63-75). So, a person can be knowledgeable but that does not presuppose intelligence. If we know truth but do not act on it we are not very intelligent. In Doctrine & Covenants 130:18 we read, “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life [meaning the level of truth we choose to act upon], it will rise with us” in the next life. This, according to Elder Bednar, is also why God identifies Himself as “more intelligent than all” (Abraham 3:19) because He acts perfectly on all truth.
In this context, not acting upon truth removes power to progress toward our best selves. And one of my favorite scriptures in Alma 12 teaches us that when we don’t act on truth we actually lose our current knowledge and deep understanding of it. We literally become duller, both spiritually and mentally. We lose the ability to comprehend the truth we once knew because we have not, or no longer act on it. We don’t simply stop progressing, we actually regress.
Listen to these words, “And they who will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing…Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell” (Alma 12:11).
God always makes very clear that we have complete control over our progression. If we learn truth and then act upon it, we gain access to more truth and thereby more power, until we know all that God knows…which means that if we act on all the truth we know (that God also knows), then it really is possible to become like Him.
Evaluate your power: What do you need power to do?
Whenever we are struggling to progress, to get out of a rut, it is usually because there is a truth that we lack.
In most cases the power we need is to progress, or to get out of our rut, is to find the truth that we lack. Finding truth (i.e. knowledge) creates a possibility of progression—if we act on it.
Or, if we know our issues, our power may be falling flat because we expect our knowledge of a truth to simply fix our problem without any research, planning, preparation, or practice on our part.
Visualizing, researching, seeking, counseling, planning, preparing, practicing
One of the things I’m currently excited about it some books and a Netflix show I tried one day about Tidying with Marie Kondo. Evidently this has been going on a while, but I just discovered her! Her process is all about helping people find the power to tidy. Two of the main things she has her clients do is to visualize their ideal life—in detail. Because, there is no power to tidy up if you don’t know what you hope to accomplish with it. What’s the point of keeping a tidy house if it doesn’t contribute to your ideal life? The second thing she teaches her clients is how to understand those things that spark joy for them. She teaches them how to show gratitude for things that no longer spark joy for them and how to part with things that they don’t see in the ideal life they’ve imagined.
The most powerful parts of her process are her clients learning to know what they want out of life—a critical and important truth—and learning to identify the objects they possess that spark joy for them—a tool of learning to feel truth. Identifying truth and feeling truth.
So, when it comes to using integrity to pull ourselves out of a rut in our lives, or to progress, it begins with looking for the truths we ignore, avoid, don’t have, and those which we are ready and willing to face. Anytime we embrace God’s truth for us we will immediately begin again to progress. That’s power.