Monthly Archives: October 2014

Lie #22: I am Limited

The lie I want to address today is about the limits we place on ourselves. For whatever reason, we may subconsciously limit what we can do (“I can’t get any other kind of job. This is all I know how to do.”), what we can have (“I don’t want too much money. I wouldn’t know what to do with it all.”), or what we can accomplish (“I’m not as smart as some. I don’t need another college degree.”). As I have written before, we say a lot of things to ourselves without even realizing what we’re saying. What we say becomes our belief.

“The beliefs you hold to be true make up the fabric of your experience. The stronger those beliefs, the more they seem unshakeable, and the more you will find evidence to support them.” (“How To Overcome Limiting Beliefs”) I love this statement because it emphasizes that the limits we place on ourselves are not imposed upon us by experiences or environment, circumstances or society. Though these things certainly influence us, the truth is that we create our own set of beliefs. The beliefs we create define our limits.

Moringa has a new line of essential oils called Améo. They have named one of their oil blends “Life Unlimited” and when I read the product description I knew I needed to borrow from the text to create my new motto:

“It is my intention to live life unlimited, which includes improved health and nutrition, an active lifestyle, personal development, and financial freedom. These principles are built upon and lived one day at a time. It is my intention to start and end each day with focus, living in the zone as I work to achieve my dreams. I feel my best, I look my best, I am my best self, and I have the energy and vitality needed to enjoy it.”

These statements are so powerful for me because along the road of my healing journey I have found lots of limitations, and I made them. Every time I repeat this motto, I am infused with a new sense that I really only have limits because I create them. It tells me that I do not need to limit myself, and that whatever beliefs I have come to accept over time can now be changed. There is no limit to what I can have, do, or be, if it’s really what I want.

Someday I will have a cool life experience to illustrate this point. For now, I’m working on changing my limitations. I’m doing it one day at a time.

limits

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Lie #21: Perfection is not possible (in this life)

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Many of us are familiar with this scripture. Many find different ways to interpret it according to what we can handle. To be perfect like God? Is that even possible? Because the majority of us cannot even conceive of such a thing, we justify it away. We say that maybe Jesus is not talking about being perfect in this life, in a mortal body. Or maybe he was talking about something else entirely, like becoming perfectly obedient to certain things. Maybe he was just giving us some hopeless goal to try and strive for, while in our hearts we wonder if we even really need to take it seriously. I think many of us have come to embrace the lie that perfection, in this life at least, just isn’t possible. I’d like to talk about why it is possible. For everyone.

First, a little reinforcement from a modern prophet. The Savior really did mean for us to be perfect, like he is (3 Nephi 12:48). “This is the commandment which is before us. Regrettably we have not reached perfection. We have a great distance to go. We must cultivate the faith to reform our lives, commencing where we are weak and moving on from there in our work of self-correction, thus gradually and consistently growing in strength to live more nearly as we should. With faith we can rise above those negative elements in our lives which constantly pull us down. With effort we can develop the capacity to subdue those impulses which lead to degrading and evil actions.” (Gordon Hinckley, “God Grant Us Faith”) It is our objective to do our best to attain exactly the kind of perfection we imagine. He did not mean for us to skip over these particular scriptures until we were closer to the end of our lives. He means for us to be working at it now.

Another angle considers the meaning of the word perfect. “A footnote [in Matthew 5, King James Version] explains that the Greek word translated as perfect means ‘complete, finished, fully developed.’ Our Heavenly Father wants us to use this mortal probation to ‘fully develop’ ourselves, to make the most of our talents and abilities. If we do so, when final judgment comes we will experience the joy of standing before our Father in Heaven as ‘complete’ and ‘finished’ sons and daughters, polished by obedience and worthy of the inheritance that He has promised to the faithful.” (Joseph Wirthlin, “The Time to Prepare”) If perfect simply means finished or complete, doesn’t that seem like a more realistic goal? That way, all we really have to do is learn all that we have come to learn. When our mortal semester is over and final exams have been taken, we’re free to move into the next life with all of the knowledge we have obtained. James gave a practical standard by which mortal perfection could be measured. He said, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man.” (James 3:2)

But I think the Savior is talking about something far deeper and more pure than we may realize. And I think it’s attainable. Scriptures have described Noah, Seth, and Job as perfect men. (see Genesis 6:9; Doctrine & Covenants 107:43; Job 1:1) No doubt the same term might apply to a large number of faithful disciples in various dispensations. Alma said that “there were many, exceedingly great many,” (Alma 13:12) who were pure before the Lord.

“The perfection that the Savior envisions for us is much more than errorless performance. It is the eternal expectation as expressed by the Lord in his great intercessory prayer to his Father—that we might be made perfect and be able to dwell with them in the eternities ahead.” (Russell Nelson, “Perfection Pending,” emphasis added)

The key to perfection is being perfected in Christ. We can’t do it ourselves. “The great chasm we must cross to follow Him and do to the works that He did and greater is to realize that we are not able in and of ourselves to be perfect, as He was. But we do have the ability to be perfectly and flawlessly obedient—as Christ was. The beauty and power of Christ’s plan is that as we obey him, he will provide all that we lack. He will close the great chasm we cannot cross by changing us so that we meet the standard of righteousness.” (John M Pontius, The Triumph of Zion) So as we try to be obedient, as we do our best, we get more ability to be good and to be more obedient. As we make the effort, we are rewarded with more ability to be what we envision, until through his grace, we just may find that we are more like him than we ever imagined we could be.

So when people say things like, “We aren’t expected to be perfect in this life,” I reject that idea, because I think the truth is, we are expected to be perfect. We are expected to be working at it now. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get to that comfortable place before I leave this earth.

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Lie #20: What Love Is

Most of us have a basic understanding of what love is. I want to address love of self and love of others as one in the same because I believe that how we treat others is a direct reflection of how we’re treating ourselves and vice-versa. Our relationships are a good indication about our true feelings about ourselves. I learned recently that my definition and understanding of love was a little skewed because of some childhood experiences. I had a mixture of things—an emotionally absent father, a mother who didn’t understand how to nurture, some sexual and emotional abuse, and a confusing and chaotic string of step-fathers and step-siblings. All of these experiences were a recipe for an adult who really wasn’t sure about the true definition of love. But now I know what it isn’t!

Satan has a counterfeit for every good thing. I think he works hard at helping us misunderstand what love really is. Following are some of the lies he taught me.

Counterfeit beliefs about love:

  • “Codependency often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. These helper types are often dependent on the other person’s poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs.” (Wikipedia) This doesn’t work. No one else can meet your needs except you. No one can fill your emptiness except God.
  • Addictions/obession. “I can’t live without this person or this thing.” Addiction is a state that is characterized by compulsive use of substances or compulsive engagement in short-term rewarding behavior, despite adverse consequences. Examples include substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, food), sexual addictions, and behavioral addictions like exercise, electronics and gambling. Addictions are a powerful counterfeit, and difficult to shake. Often we come to believe that the addiction is the only way to feel. It’s the only thing that feels good. But I’m here to tell you that the atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to heal. Any addiction can be overcome.
  • Manipulation/coercion. “If you really loved me, you would do [whatever I want you to do.]” This, I believe is how Satan convinced his followers in the beginning, preying upon our hearts. But this is not how God operates. “Leaders invite, persuade, encourage, and recommend in a spirit of gentleness and meekness. [People] respond freely as the Spirit guides. Only this kind of response has moral value. An act is moral only if it expresses the character and disposition of the person, that is, if it arises out of knowledge, faith, love, or religious intent. Fear and force have no place in the kingdom because they do not produce moral actions and are contrary to God’s gift of … agency.” (Boyd K. Packer, quoting General Handbook of Instructions (1963), in “That All May Be Edified”: Talks, Sermons, and Commentary by Boyd K. Packer (1982), 253.) We cannot interfere with a person’s ability to choose.
  • Conditions. Setting conditions on love is dangerous practice. It’s selfish because it’s based on conditions the individual sets upon the relationship. “I will love my body as long as it’s thin and attractive. Otherwise, I can’t.” Or, “I will love you as long as you meet my standards for a friend or companion.” It doesn’t work. It isn’t real. If the condition is not met, it falls apart.
  • Attention-seeking. Children learn to seek attention from parents and people they love, and sometimes they don’t grow out of it. The reason it doesn’t work as love is because often people seek any kind of attention—positive or negative—simply to get recognition from people. Again, others are not capable of filling your emptiness. Attention and recognition are not love.
  • Abuse. All of the many forms of abuse—verbal, sexual, emotional, physical—can cause us to believe that it’s the only way we can receive love. People may not even realize they’re being abused because it’s a way of life they have become used to. For me, self-abuse was a form of counterfeit love and I didn’t even realize that I was doing it.
  • Sex. Some people believe that love is all about sex. This isn’t true at all, although the arguments (especially for young people who don’t quite know the difference) can be pretty persuasive.

So what is real love? Here are some signs that you may really know how to love yourself (borrowed from Louise Hay):

  • You attract loving relationships and are accepted just the way you are, because others are a mirror of what you are.
  • You love and accept your body just the way it is. You take care of it, feed it healthy foods, dress and groom it and keep it clean.
  • You attract loving environments where you feel good and are treated with respect.
  • Whatever you’re doing in your life, you enjoy it and are learning from it.
  • You behave and think in loving ways towards others.
  • You forgive and totally release the trauma of past experiences. You live in the now and are grateful for your experiences because of what they have taught you.

We need to learn to love as God loves us. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34) “This love brings about real change of character. It can penetrate hatred and dissolve envy. It can heal resentment and quench the fires of bitterness. It can work miracles.” (Dieter Uchtdorf, “Your Wonderful Journey Home”)

“The feeling of love from our Heavenly Father is like a gravitational pull from heaven. As we remove the distractions that pull us toward the world and exercise our agency to seek Him, we open our hearts to a celestial force which draws us toward Him.” (Paul Koelliker, “He Truly Loves Us”)

I am grateful to know who Jesus Christ is and of his love for me. His love is teaching me how to love myself, and therefore, how to love others. I am so grateful for this journey.

“Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives. I bear testimony that God lives. His love is infinite and eternal. It extends to all of His children. Because He loves us, He has provided prophets and apostles to guide us in our time. He has given us the Holy Ghost, who teaches, comforts, and inspires. He has given us His scriptures. And I am grateful beyond description that He has given to each of us a heart capable of experiencing the pure love of Christ. I pray that our hearts may be filled with that love and that we may reach out to our Heavenly Father and to others with new vision and new faith. I testify that as we do so, we will discover a greater richness in life.” (Joseph Wirthlin, “The Great Commandment”)

what-is-love

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