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Back in 1998 sister Julene Butler gave a speech at Brigham Young University. She said of herself: “The shy, self-conscious, insecure person that I was at that time [earlier in her life] could never have imagined this moment...I would like to speak to those of you who may be where I was at that time—those of you who may not yet know what you have to share with others or those who may long to become something more than you now are, something that seems very far out of reach. I want to talk about how we see ourselves and discuss some of the steps we can take to see ourselves more clearly. I believe this subject is relevant not only to those of you who are trying to discover your potential, but also to those who are seeking to move beyond past boundaries, to chart new personal territories, and to discover more of your eternal potential.”

She continued on to say she had had a few different experiences that caused her to think about how we perceive, and that the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:12 came to her mind: “For now we see through a glass darkly”.

She continued, “New Testament commentaries teach us that the word translated here as glass actually refers to a mirror. The imagery Paul invokes in his statement may be unclear to those of us who know mirrors as the clear reflective glass we look into every day. When you try to envision what it is to look “through a glass, darkly,” perhaps you, like me, see a steam-covered bathroom mirror after a shower. But if we consider the imagery in the context of Paul’s times, the phrase “looking through a mirror, darkly” carries powerful implications… A mirror in Paul’s day was not made of glass but of metal, and it required constant polishing. One commentator stated that “a sponge with pounded pumice-stone was generally attached” to the mirror. This allowed the user to polish the metal before use in order to remove the tarnish and more clearly see the reflection… When we peer at ourselves in that imperfect mirror, what do we see? What blemishes seem to be there that would disappear if our glass were more highly polished? What dimensions do we fail to see?... We can sharpen and clarify our vision of ourselves so that an eternal perspective permeates the self-image that drives our lives.



Would you say that statement is true? That our own self-image drives the direction of our lives? For me personally I know it is true. As a teenager dealing with severe depression I felt ugly physically and emotionally, and utterly worthless. Because I assumed no one would want to talk to me, I rarely reached out to anyone else. Because I felt worthless I dressed in large baggy clothes, trying to hide myself from the perceived scrutiny of others. I projected my feelings of self-hate onto those around me, assuming they must feel the same way about me that I did about myself. It made me uneasy, suspicious, despairing, and prone to false interpretations of others actions and words. My hatred of myself played a part in everything I did and felt.

In a class a few weeks ago, our instructor wrote the following on the board:
STIMULUS                     RESPONSE

Between every stimulus and response lies what? An interpretation. How you perceive the event. And that interpretation is what truly drives our responses; our actions, our inactions, our interactions with others. Our interpretation of ourselves absolutely affects the way we interpret others and the things we do. Is your interpretation of yourself one of mostly love and understanding? If it isn’t, how can you change it into something more positive? Obviously it’s a continual process. We ride on the highs and lows of self image. It took many years for me of slow healing and even now I still have relapses into depression and feelings of worthlessness but my faith in the fact that I am loved by God, even when I can’t seem to feel it, sustains me when this happens.

You are a child of heavenly parents. They do know your name. They are aware of your feelings. They give more support than we will ever be able to recognize with our mortal eyes. And because they love you and trust you sometimes they let you struggle alone, because they know what you will learn and what you can become.



Sister Butler continued: “I wonder how often, in life’s circumstances, do we focus only on our weaknesses, on those areas where we fall short, where we would like to improve? Do we give equal time to our strengths? Do we look beyond the surface and seek to discover the qualities that lie latent within us, waiting to be nurtured and developed? Or do we wallow in what we are not, or what we don’t have?... It is important to examine our weaknesses, but we must keep them in perspective and let them motivate us to stretch for better things rather than allowing them to obscure the view of our eternal potential.”

As a child of Heavenly parents your potential is limitless. This mortal life is a mere fissure compared to the vast canyon of eternity and the growth and education that awaits us there, but we don’t have to wait for eternity to discover many truths about and dormant strengths within ourselves. Understanding our relationship to God, and learning to love ourselves is a key motivating factor in this regard! In knowing and placing our faith in God’s love for us, we can be motivated to reach higher and to do more than we might have ever thought possible.


I will not say that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. I certainly felt great love for my family and close friends even when I couldn’t stand myself. But I do believe that it is probably easier to assume the best, to be more patient, to be more understanding, to be more forgiving, when we treat ourselves accordingly.

As we remember that we are children of God, let us remember that all others with whom we come into contact are too. C.S. Lewis once said, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship...There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal... it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.”




Though we are as numberless as the stars, each of us are children of Heavenly parents and they love us. I know that as a parent the thing that breaks my heart the most is to see my children being mean to each other. In our simple day to day interactions with strangers, co-workers or family members, do we stop to consider whether our interpretation of their actions or words might be incorrect? Do we assume the best of others as often as possible?

Perhaps sometimes the best cannot be assumed as in cases of betrayal, neglect, or abuse by people we once trusted. But I think God is pleased even if we can only sincerely desire to be rid of feelings contrary to love. And with His help, maybe someday that desire can come to pass.

We know that we are here on earth with all of its joys and troubles to learn things that only experience can teach us. We are children of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who sent us here to learn and grow, and ultimately to become like them. There plan for us is called the Plan of Salvation.

Elder David A. Bednar has taught: “The revelations teach us that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36). We typically may think the word intelligence in this scripture denotes innate cognitive ability or a particular gift for academic work. In this verse, however, one of the meanings of intelligence is the application of the knowledge we obtain for righteous purposes. As President David O. McKay taught, the learning “for which the Church stands...is the application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.”

Why does the so called temporal matter? Shouldn’t it be more important to spend our days devoted only to spiritual thought, to piety in every word and deed? No, because the temporal and the spiritual are utterly intertwined. We may not remember every detail of everything there is to learn about in life but the process of learning helps shape our character. It can teach us how to study and how to work hard in addition to providing us with types and shadows of eternal truth. All things on earth and in the Heavens testify of God. Think for a moment about lessons, or truths you have noticed or learned from an observation of seemingly temporal things or processes.



I think immediately of the way a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. Before a caterpillar has even hatched it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need later on. When it's ready to transform it doesn't build a chrysallis around itself, rather it sheds its skin to reveal the chrysalis already inside of it. While it is encased in the chrysalis the caterpillar dissolves all of its body tissues excepting the discs. Then the discs use the dissolved tissue to form the new adult features that will become a butterfly.

Like each caterpillar I believe we all have amazing abilities and potential inside. And like a caterpillar the process of being broken is what allows something new and even more marvelous to emerge. The most important question then becomes, what will we do with the beauty and knowledge we've gained? Our Heavenly parents want us not just to discover our own true desires and abilities, but to assist others in discovering the same truths. So now we come to the following word, which may seem out of place.

SELF-RELIANCE.

Too often we hear or see this word and think: food storage, 72 hour kits, gardening, etc. Those are products of self-reliance but that is not what self-reliance really is. An exerpt from lds.org reads: “When we are self-reliant, we USE the blessings and abilities God has given us to care for ourselves and our families and find solutions to our own problems. As we practice an attitude of self-reliance, we are also better able to serve and care for others.  

Elder Russell M. Nelson’s recent conference talk, “A Plea to My Sisters” was all about becoming more spiritually self reliant so that when others we interact with have questions, we are prepared to answer, and to bear testimony. That is, just like helping the physically hungry or needy, imparting of our substance; the substance of light and knowledge that we have gathered and stored up inside our souls.

Marion G. Romeny taught: “Can we see how critical self-reliance becomes when looked upon as the prerequisite to service, when we also know service is what Godhood is all about? Without self-reliance once cannot exercise innate desires to serve. How can we give if there is nothing there? Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak.”

When we really see ourselves as God sees us, we are motivated to learn more and become more. When we see others as God sees them, we are more charitable in our attitude toward them. With the confidence, knowledge, and abilities we gain from clearly perceiving the first, and the generosity of spirit we derive from the second, we are fully equipped to spread physical and temporal service whereve we live. God doesn’t care what we don’t have to offer.  All He asks is that we willingly use whatever blessings and abilities we do have, to serve each other.  

In closing I'd like to share a quote from Richard G. Scott: “In discussing these principles with you today I have had one desire: that somehow in the mind and heart of each of us there might be generated, as though we were talking to ourselves, this sort of conviction: “I am truly and deeply loved of the Lord. he will do all in his power for my happiness. The key to unlock that power is in myself. While others will counsel, suggest, exhort, and urge, the Lord has given me the responsibility and the agency to make the basic decisions for my happiness and eternal progress...This, coupled with full obedience to the commandments of God and selfless service to and genuine concern for others, will purge fear from my heart and condition me to receive and to interpret the divine aid given to mark my path with clarity…No friend, bishop, stake president, or General Authority can do this for me. It is my divine right to do it for myself. I will be at peace; I will be happy; I will have a rewarding, productive, meaningful life.”

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