I tend to feel guilty asking God to bless me when I’ve messed up that particular day. I feel unworthy to seek His help when I’ve struggled with my temper, said something unkind, or been impatient with others around me. I will sit down to blog and I’m afraid to start knowing that my heart hasn’t been perfectly kind and loving all day. “Who am I to try and do this good when I’ve acted so poorly?” I ask myself.

Have I said my sorrys? Yes. Have I asked for forgiveness of those I’ve offended? Yes. Then, why can’t I trust God to help me despite my failings? Why do I avoid asking for His help or sitting down to share my love of His character and His words when I know that these are most certainly things He wants me to do?

Here’s the big question: Does my imperfection in one area make it impossible for God to bless me in other areas?

The answer: No.

Why? Because God is just.

The Story of Samson Illustrates God’s Just Nature

Recently, while pressing forward with my #dailydoctrines (see @theDoctrineLady on Instagram), I got to Judges 14+ where there are several chapters devoted to Samson. Samson is precisely the kind of guy I can’t stand. I’m naturally annoyed and disgusted by guys who like to show off, seem to like to prove to others their superiority (whether or not they are), and who are womanizers. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on Samson. But, the reality is that when I read his story I’m supremely skeptical of him as a heroic character. I focus more on his failings than his positive attributes.

Because of my bias, I recently turned to my husband for his viewpoint. I have to do this when my own feelings cloud my ability to be taught doctrine by the Spirit. Normally, I see doctrines quite quickly. With the Samson story, I just read and read and read…

What my husband and I discussed and what I have pondered regarding Samson’s story has truly enlightened me. It has strengthened my testimony of God’s just nature. Instead of being clouded by Samson’s weaknesses, I can at last see what his story teaches me about God (which is what #dailydoctrines are…#whatgodislike). Samson’s story is one that testifies of God’s justice and trustworthiness.

Samson is a Nazarite

Even before he was born, and angel told Samson’s parents that he was to be a Nazarite. Being a Nazarite is similar to, or semi-related to, being a nun, monk, or dedicated missionary. Not only do they keep basic commandments, but they have specific rules and covenants they keep that set them apart, even among believers. Being a Nazarite can be a lifetime vow, but it wasn’t always.

Samson was raised as a Nazarite (don’t confuse it with Nazarene, or being from Nazareth) from birth and it is clear that he honored the specific rules and covenants with being a Nazarite; most especially that of not cutting his hair. These covenants and ways of living marked him as God’s. He was set apart by these rules.

It seems, from the account in Judges, that the blessings Samson received from keeping his Nazarite covenant included an incredible amount of physical strength, which I suspect he had genetically but was amplified by his faithfulness. It also made him an extra talented fighter. It witnesses clearly that God can give us gifts and talents, but that these talents can become even more powerful and can even be multiplied when we use them in His service.

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Samson has Weaknesses and So Do We

Right alongside his righteous Nazarite observance, Samson has two very visible weaknesses. First, he is arrogant and has a need to prove his superiority. It seems evident that he needed a reason to boast about his secret, or unknown, acts of strength by challenging his wedding party with riddles. And, he does so not only to boast (in a sense) but also to win more gifts off of them.

Samson succeeds in stumping his guests until his new wife convinces him to tell her about the riddle’s meaning. Then, in order to make good on his betting debt (since he doesn’t have the possessions) he runs off and slaughters some of the Philistines and takes their stuff. Not such a Christlike showing, is it?

Often in Judges we see phrases like “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” right before he runs off and slaughters people. While I have no way of knowing exactly Samson’s situation, I think it’s probable to consider that this may refer to the power of God as manifested through Samson’s gifts and talent of strength and fighting prowess. So, you could also word it his talents of strength and fighting prowess were activated or were amplified. Whether or not God actually guided/commanded Samson to slay the lion or to kill a thousand Philistines with a jawbone, or whether God honored the blessings of strength and fighting talent that came with Samson’s obedience to his Nazarite vow may not matter. But, I feel it’s more consistent with God’s character as displayed in all of scripture to say that God honored the blessings attached to Samson’s obedience to his Nazarite vow; rather than to say God guided/commanded Samson to slay the lion or to pay off his gamble by killing 40 people, or to slay a thousand Philistines with a jawbone because they offended him.

Was Samson’s job to deliver Israel from the Philistines? Yes. And perhaps though he never fully rose to this opportunity because of his weaknesses, these small battles were allowed or did not contribute to his condemnation because he was, in a sense, attempting to fulfill his mission.

So, Samson was full of human weakness. But, he was also an extremely faithful Nazarite until nearly the end of his reign as judge. Which makes him just like all of us. We are all full of a myriad of weaknesses and issues and yet all of us do many wonderful, righteous, and powerful things in the service of our fellow men.

God is Just

The story of Samson shows that God is just. How? Because even though Samson was sort of a mess, with many weaknesses, God still blessed him for the commandments he did keep. And, God was unable to bless Samson in the areas where he didn’t keep the commandments, thus proving Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 and 137:9 accurate.

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

Samson didn’t desire to marry “in the covenant,” or, in other words, within his religion (according to the command of God, Deuteronomy 7:2-5) and people. His actions reflected that desire. He sought out Philistine women, not repenting when his parents tried to counsel him otherwise. Thus, he lost out on the blessings. His women were repeatedly a snare to him and ultimately his undoing (because he didn’t repent), as prophesied in Deuteronomy.

A God who will bless us where we are righteous even when we are wicked in some areas is just. A God who knows we will ultimately abandon Him in some aspects of our life in the future but blesses us in the present while we are faithful is just. We often forget that justice is as much about blessings earned as it is cursing or consequences earned. Consequences are not all from one end of the spectrum. Consequences are directly related to the laws of God. He must bless us when we do right, just as He must withdraw blessings (or curse us) when we don’t do what’s right (Doctrine & Covenants 82:10).

Conclusion

So, while it’s hard to approach God, say a prayer, seek for spiritual guidance, even to serve in our families and church callings on the days when we feel we’ve failed miserably; as long as we are penitent and the desires of our heart are good, we can pick ourselves up with gratitude and hope that God is just. He can and will bless us in the righteousness we do even when other aspects of our lives are still a work-in-progress.

However, in this let us be un-like Samson. Samson could have repented and received more power and blessings and fulfilled his earthly mission (and received eternal glory too), yet he did not. We don’t have to be like him. We can continue, through grace, to repent and work on the areas in which we repeatedly fail or struggle. We can seek for blessings and keep trying. And the mistakes we do make should not deter us from pressing forward in the good we seek to do.

BT

I have two very wise mothers. My own mother will often be heard to say, “We’re all a mess,” which is meant to be a graceful equalizer, not a criticism, to remind herself and me to cut other people some slack. As well, my mother-in-law will often be heard to say, “We’re all doing the best we can,” which is also a graceful equalizer. She uses it to remind herself and others (including me) that though we may want more from others, (or sometimes ourselves) that we should understand that with few exceptions, we are all doing the best we can—or all that we’re presently capable of. And I would add my mother’s phrase…because we’re all a mess.

It’s the truth. Even those of us who look put together on the outside are a mess on the inside due to weakness, trials, past hurts and future fears. Even those of us who seem to do the outward commandments well struggle to bat .500 on the more internal commandments. And it goes the other way. People who seem to be a mess on the outside are not always the mess we assume them to be on the inside. Even those who may not seem to do all the outward commandments well may be much better than we could ever be on the internal commandments.

We’re all a mess—in some way. We’re all—with few exceptions—doing the best we can, or all that we’re presently capable of, despite the fact that we’re a mess.

We all sin differently. We all try differently. Most of keep trying even when we struggle or fail.

My very wise mother and I recently talked in detail about a very popular scripture.

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to be believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Ne 25:23)

The problem with this scripture in the conversation of grace, is that it is horribly misunderstood and falsely interpreted. So many people beat themselves up day in and day out trying to earn grace by doing their “best,” hoping that it will be enough for God to accept so that He’ll do “the rest.” As if it’s solely a cause/effect relationship. It’s not.

This is not an accurate interpretation of this scripture—in this limited sense. The reason it is so inaccurately interpreted is because it is so often quoted out of context. Nephi goes on to talk about how he and his people keep “the law,” because it points them to Christ, “For this end was the law given…[to point us to Christ]” and “we keep the law because of the commandments” (2 Nephi 25:24-25, brackets added).

Two key doctrines here:

  1. The law of ordinances and covenants brings us to Christ and points us toward Him
  2. The commandments of God point us to Christ and help us obtain ordinances and covenants with God

Nowhere in these verses in the implication made that the law, or commandments, save us. Paul was right. The law, by itself, is dead (Galatians 2:21). It is Christ who saves us through grace. It is the law, ordinances, covenants, and commandments that bring us to Christ, point us toward Him, and help us become like Him—through grace. They have a purpose, just not the one we often think.

Do you keep your covenants perfectly? No, you’re a mess, remember? We all are. Do you keep every commandment perfectly? Of course you don’t. But, you are pretty much doing the best you can within your present capability, most of the time. So, if we had to do the “law” and “commandments” perfectly before God would save us or even help us, there would be no purpose to this life, or the atonement of Jesus Christ. It would be a silly system because there would be no chance for ultimate salvation and exaltation.

So, why did God allow us all to be such messes and yet give us a law asking us to not be a mess?

I take you to another frequently misquoted and possibly misunderstood scripture:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 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. (Ether 12:27)

When most people read this scripture they say, “weaknesses.” And yet, it doesn’t say that. So, what’s the difference between the possible interpretations and doctrines to be found in this scripture by ensuring we read it as weakness and not weaknesses? Here’s one that I suggest may be helpful, after many years of discussions with my wise mother and husband.

In comparison to God, what is our greatest weakness? My answer to that is mortality. And, by mortality I mean the conditions necessary for us to have and maintain agency in this life. These mortal conditions are:

  1. Mother nature acts independently and indifferently to us. No mortal can control or gain favoritism from Mother nature.
  2. We can be hurt, or killed, (mentally, emotionally, and physically) by everything and everyone, including ourselves. The actions and reactions of every person on the earth impacts us (and nature).

Now, if we read this scripture with the word mortality in the place of weakness it reads quite a bit more powerfully (in my opinion):

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their mortality. I give unto men mortality 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 mortal things become strong unto them.

So, what’s the big deal?

Well, we’re all a mess because we’re mortal. God didn’t give us specific weaknesses. He didn’t make some people blind and some lame and some short and some fat. But, He did give us mortality, which in its indifferent state (which is necessary to maintain our agency and power to choose and be fully accountable) brought about the individual weaknesses we all suffer. Did God know which weaknesses mortality would bring upon us? Yes. But that is not the same thing as handpicking weaknesses for us. And for me, that has incredible impact on my ability to trust and have faith in God. And to understand both His plan for me and His over-arching plan for us all.

God didn’t purposefully choose for me to bust out my two front teeth in fourth grade (right after getting my permanent teeth). But, He did make me mortal which meant my teeth were capable of being busted out by sufficient impact with asphalt. Will I get them back someday in the resurrection? Yes. But that moment is not now and so it’s a huge physical weakness. I’m always worried about my dental work. That song All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth is often one I sing in my head. No joke.

God gave us mortality so that we could progress in His ultimate plan for us to become like Him. Mortality is a gift. But, it is also our primary weakness. We can’t prevent eventual death. We can’t prevent natural disasters. We can’t prevent all the symptoms and results of most diseases. We can’t predict genetic mutations (due to nature and our independently functioning DNA). We can’t go in and reprogram our bodies. There is so much about mortality that leaves us weak. It is in this weak state that mortal things, mortal problems bring about myriads of weaknesses (plural here). Thus, we are all a mess so that we can humble ourselves and submit to the godly learning process.

No matter our mortal things, we can become strong in Christ—through grace. That is what God is saying—at least to me.

Now, the last thing my mother and I talked about recently, was what has come to her. And, for her, she words 2 Nephi 25:23 a little bit differently to reflect this understanding about the grace we all constantly receive because we really all are doing the best we can. She words that final phrase like this:

It’s by grace we are saved after all the obedience we are capable of.

This really rings true as we consider God’s own words about the innocence of children. He does not say they cannot be taught to repent and to keep His commandments, but He is very clear that their accountability is dependent upon their ability to commit sin.

So it goes with us all. Each of us has differing levels of capability, knowledge, instruction, etc. God, through grace, not only enables us to obey Him—when we desire to do so—He slowly perfects us and increases our capability to obey as we try. This is what some people misunderstand. They procrastinate obeying or only partially obey because they don’t feel they can, or can’t maintain it. Not knowing that the effort made will be amplified by grace and increase their capacity to obey over time. Covenants and obedience to God are how we receive more grace and power to become like Him. It’s a beautiful system…all powered by grace.

Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin… Behold baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins… For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent… (Moroni 8:10-11, 22)

People forget that sin is rebellion. I’m not saying we shouldn’t repent of transgressions, omissions, or mistakes. But it is quite a different thing to truly desire goodness and react unfavorably to stress, provocation, and trials than it is to purposefully and knowingly act out against God and others. Obviously, we still need to recognize these transgression and work to be more godly. But because we are all a mess, God accepts even our weakest efforts. He knows we are always doing pretty much the best we can, or what we are presently capable of. And He consistently offers to increase that capability through His grace.

Now, lest anyone panic and think that people can become like God without ever becoming accountable. Simply remember God’s mandate to preach the gospel to both the living and the dead. Eventually all must be taught and become accountable, because we cannot be saved in ignorance (D&C 131:6; 136:32).

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My final thought on this scripture (2 Nephi 25:23) is tearing apart the word AFTER.

Some definitions of the word AFTER that I particularly like to place in this scripture are:

In pursuit of or in quest of; behind; next to or following in order of importance.

Now, let’s put this all together:

It is by grace that we are saved in pursuit of or in quest of all the obedience that we are capable of.

OR

It is by grace that we are saved following in order of importance of all the obedience we are capable of

Aren’t these cool! We are all in pursuit (or have been given the opportunity to pursue) godhood. To be even as He is, joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). Grace saves us while we are in this pursuit of learning to reach the level of obedience of God!

Or, grace follows in importance our obedience. Why is obedience first? Because it is an act of will, of agency. God won’t force anything on us—not even His grace. We must choose it. Obedience points us to Christ, as Nephi so clearly points out in 2 Nephi 25:24-25. Obedience is not how we earn grace. It’s how we say “Yes,” to increasing portions and levels of grace. God has far more grace to offer, more power to offer, as we desire to increase our capability to obey—and become godly. Thus, we must first accept—through the obedience we are capable of—before we can receive more grace, and more grace, until our capability to obey reaches that godly fullness, or perfect day (D&C 93:19-20; 50:24).

So, yes, we’re all a mess. But, if we really are all doing the best we can, or offering all the obedience we are presently capable of, then God will not only remit our sins, He will give us more grace and increase our power and  capability to obey. It’s such a beautiful thing.

BT

Doctrine: Intelligence is the actual action taken and application made based on truths we know. God is God because He has learned to acquire truth, knowledge, and skills and to act on them perfectly—forever. Free will/agency is dependent on our ability to act on truth despite how we feel. Faith is acting on the truth we know even when we don’t feel like it. There is no weakness, or stupidity, that can’t be overcome—through grace—by intelligent action.

Training Neuroscience Development

I know a lot of good people. In fact, most of the people I know or am acquainted with are good people. I also find that people in general are good (if we take each person or communities as a whole). And yet, it seems that each of us is still prone to short, frequent, or long-term bouts of a total “lack of intelligence” (i.e. stupidity). I use these terms not in the sarcastic or demeaning sense, but in their literal denotation.

Intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

Knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; theoretical or practical understanding; awareness or familiarity with a fact, or information.

Stupidity: lack of intelligence; behavior that shows lack of good judgment.

David A. Bednar (2011) says in his book, Increase in Learning: “Intelligence is the righteous application of knowledge and understanding in action and judgment” (p. 70).

Note, intelligence isn’t knowledge. Intelligence isn’t skills. Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. The key difference between knowledge and intelligence is that knowledge is the acquired information and skills, but intelligence is the willingness or capability to act on and apply such knowledge/skills.

So, when I say that all people suffer from bouts of stupidity, what I mean is:

  1. They have certain knowledge and skills to act on truth but they do not act on them
  2. They have the ability to acquire knowledge and skills but they do not use that ability to get such knowledge or skills…keeping them from acting on things they know to be true.
  3. They have the knowledge and skills to act on truth but are unwilling to sacrifice what they want (or think they want) now in order to act on what they believe, suspect, or know to be ultimately true.

Now, as we discuss intelligence, we’re talking about more than common sense.

In Abraham 3:19 we read:

And the Lord said unto me (Abraham): These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

This statement is not a statement of superiority. What God is saying to Abraham here is basically this: “I have more knowledge and skills than any other spirit being in the universe, and I perfectly apply that knowledge and those skills eternally.”

God is God because He has learned to acquire truth, knowledge, and skills and to act on them perfectly—forever.

intelligencepicSo, I know that losing my temper doesn’t ever solve the struggles I have. But, knowing that is not the same as applying it. It is difficult to not lose one’s temper, especially in certain situations.

In fact, each and every day, each of us submits to frequent, temporary bouts of stupidity (i.e. lack of intelligence). Or, we continue to nurture long-term stupidity.  Stupidity happens every time we know a truth and do not act on it or apply it. How recently we’ve acquired the truth determines if it is a short-term or long-term spell of stupidity.

For most of us the most common type of stupidity is long-term. We may know a truth but we are unwilling to work to acquire the skills needed to act on or apply the truth; or we are unwilling to sacrifice immediate, selfish wants for the unknown but believed future promised by a truth. Acquiring these skills, or sacrificing current wants, takes extra work and so we are lazy with the knowledge of truth we have. Anytime we know better and yet still choose to act against what we know to be true, we are exhibiting a clear lack of intelligence. The smarter we are and the more capable we are of gaining knowledge of truth, the more stark and inexcusable our stupidity becomes.

Feelings

Now, the premier argument against stupidity is that emotional, spiritual, and psychological factors get in the way. Environmental factors can also make good justifications. And, I would agree. However, we have been counseled by prophets, motivational speakers of all kinds, psychologists, and wise associates (including family, friends, and random people posting quotes all over social media) that we have the power to 1) use our agency to make changes to our environments, and to 2) use our agency to act in a certain way despite what we feel.

So, yes, mortal factors make acting intelligently difficult. Sometimes it even requires heroic efforts. But, the reality is that we have been created by God with the capability to act and not be acted upon (2 Nephi 2:14, 25-26). Therefore, it’s possible to act intelligently even if it seems impossible. That changes everything.

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My mother, a very wise woman, once said to me: “Faith is doing what’s right even when you don’t feel like it.” That phrase has had eternal impact upon me. It is exactly what this blog is about. If we have faith in God and in the truths (and promised blessings) He has established, then we act upon those truths even when we don’t feel like it.

We love our enemies (whom we obviously are not naturally inclined to love and serve) even if we don’t feel loved by them in return. We turn the other cheek even though our natural inclination is to retaliate or be vengeful. We forgive seventy-times-seven as long as someone continues to repent and try, though our natural inclination is to hold a grudge and maintain a sense of anger. We break up an unhealthy or ultimately unfruitful relationship if it isn’t leading us to honor the truths we know and the blessings we desire. We pay our tithes and offerings even though we don’t feel like we can afford it or that our tiny sum will make a difference.

Now, before anyone tries to convict me of saying that in order to act intelligently we aren’t allowed to feel at all, then I remind you of what I have said up to this point. I have said nothing about not being allowed to feel a certain way. I have only presented the fact that we are capable of acting differently than how we feel.

Feelings are always valid and necessary. They are evidence that everything we say and do matters, good or bad (which is necessary to the existence of free will/agency). If something hurts or angers us, then it hurts and angers us. If someone is nice to us and it makes us feel good, then we naturally feel good. However, whether our perception of a situation is what brings upon us certain feelings, or the actual intent of another person is to hurt or anger us, or make us feel nice, doesn’t matter. We are meant to feel, we are allowed to feel, and our feelings are understandable and expected. Yet, our feelings, no matter how real, never justify not acting on the truth we know. Wrongs don’t change into rights just because we “feel” one way or the other. This is something a lot of people have trouble understanding.

Brain Radiates

How often do you smile and converse when you are out in public even though inside you just want to get away and go home? You feel one way, you act another. The changing variable is your concern about other people’s feelings. In this case, it is their feelings that create your ability to act despite what you feel.

Obviously, this is a good thing; to be kind to others even when we don’t feel like it. But, more often we don’t act because we don’t feel anything at all. We don’t love because we don’t feel loved. We don’t serve because our mental, emotional, spiritual, and psychological reserves are low because others haven’t served us. We don’t communicate because others don’t communicate with us. We don’t forgive or apologize because others haven’t forgiven or apologized to us. Holding back our own intelligent action while we wait on the intelligent action of others is…stupid.

I could present a million different examples. The reality is that we don’t have to feel a certain way in order to act on truth. Does it make it easier to feel motivated? Certainly. When I’m feeling humble because of my own failings it makes it much easier for me to give others slack for theirs. When I’m feeling loved it is much easier for me to give love to others—even enemies. But, when I’m not “feeling” a certain way, it is a thousand times more difficult for me to act intelligently.

Why would God send us out of His presence and allow us to be born into mortality with not even a hint of a memory of our life with Him? Well, because those memories and feelings would make it difficult for us—likely impossible—to act with free will, especially not to the extent necessary to choose the path to and to train for godhood. We would be compelled to choose a certain way based on the feelings we had in relation to those memories. Consider, the small amount of God’s love we feel during this short, mortal existence is so powerful it changes us almost instantly. Communication from the Holy Ghost is so potent and powerful that we cannot truly deny it. How then, if we could see God, feel His presence, and remember our spiritual lives with Him, could our agency not be nearly overpowered by such influence? So, yes feelings are very powerful.

However, acting intelligently on our journey to godhood requires that we have the power to act of our own free will. We cannot become like God if we always have to be acted upon (or be made to feel a certain way) to do what’s right. We cannot always feel a certain way before we will do what is right. If God only acted perfect when He felt perfect, or if He only blessed us when we loved Him, where then would we and His plan of salvation be?

If I’m not feeling the same feeling that I felt during a particularly excellent church service, it makes it more difficult to act on the truths the Holy Spirit taught me during that service. The spiritual feeling has passed. The knowledge received remains. But, without the feeling I become stupid. I somehow think I have to feel charitable to act charitable. I somehow think I have to feel repentant to go and repent. I somehow think I have to feel forgiveness before I can begin to forgive.knowledgepic

But, consider this requirement we place upon ourselves to feel before acting in regard to our faith in Christ. Faith is acting on what we believe and know, not on what we feel in the moment. Faith, scripturally, is acting on things we know, or hope, to be true that are currently unseen to us (Alma 32:21).

If we always waited to “feel” a certain way (whether physically healthy, spiritually uplifted, or emotionally inclined) before we acted on the truth attached to those feelings, we would be of all beings the most weak. It is our ability to act despite our feelings that makes us inherently powerful—with the potential for godhood.

Military professionals, medical personnel, parents, etc. There are any number of groups of people who “train themselves” (or in other words, acquire skills and knowledge) so that when times of crises come, they know how to act despite how they feel. Doctors train some of their sensitivities so that they might be immune to medically traumatic scenes or individual physical appearance. Nurses and paramedics train to gain the skills necessary to handle situations that would send most people into psychological and emotional shock. In those moments, they let their training take control—not their feelings, or lack of feelings.

In Ether 12:27 we read:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. 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.

Again, I acknowledge the fact that the cliché “easier said than done,” applies here. It takes consistent and often heroic effort to act differently than we feel. And, depending on our differing and unique personal situations, often it seems as though we can justify not acting on what we know based on circumstantial variables. But again, when it comes to our weaknesses, an important truth remains…

The Holy Ghost is the Great Sanctifier. As we act—especially if it is against our feelings and natural man inclination—the Holy Ghost can take that willing action(s) and use it to make deep and permanent changes in us, over time. But, if we do not act, despite our feelings, then He cannot create changes is us against our will. If He could, agency would not exist.

Grace is not free, meaning we cannot be made into a godly creature against our will and daily actions. But, Grace is offered freely IF we act to make use of it. For example: what good is a blacksmith’s fire on a metal rod if he does strike the metal rod with a hammer, or bend it with a bending fork after it has been heated up? So, likewise, is the fire of grace useless to us if we take no action to change or bend under the heat it has given us.

Sometimes we congratulate ourselves that our intelligence is greater than others simply because we hide our stupidity better, or because we have longer durations between bouts. But the reality is that comparing ourselves to others is another act/bout of stupidity. We can always justify our stupidity in comparison to others. But, this will not help us become more intelligent. We have to own our bouts of stupidity. The only comparison we can truthfully make is between ourselves and God; against whom we all fall short. That is the only way to see our stupidity clearly and find the motivation to acquire the knowledge and skills we need to act intelligently—if we desire to be like Him.stupiditypic

Think of one truth, right now, that you know you don’t act on at all, or at least not consistently, frequently, or successfully. Now answer these questions:

  • What usually keeps you from acting intelligently? Is it laziness? It is a feeling? Is it a lack of skills?
    • If it is a feeling, or lack of feeling, take the time to write down the details of how that feeling (or lack of feeling) impacts your mental logic.
    • If it is a skill set, take the time to research and write down the steps necessary to get those skills.

There is no weakness, or stupidity, that can’t be overcome—through grace—by intelligent action. But, it takes humility to own your stupidity. It takes wisdom to not be afraid of your struggles, or the hammering and bending necessary to overcome them. It takes courage to work to get the skills you need to act on the knowledge of truth that you have—to make weaknesses become strengths; to turn knowledge into intelligence.

BT