Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love Thyself

The second great commandment is to "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:39). Countless lessons and talks have focused on the first part of the commandment, loving others, so we often ignore the second part. But love for others stems from love for self. It may not seem true: there are many people who are compassionate and kind who have self-love issues. However, I believe that their capacity to love others would increase dramatically if they learned to love themselves. When someone is filled with self-hatred and other negative emotions, there is little room for positive emotions, even for others. In fact, self-hatred is selfish (note self is in both words); it's focusing solely on ourselves. On the other hand, when we are filled with self-love, we are happier, more optimistic people with greater capacity to see the needs of others and fill them.

I remember first learning this lesson from watching The Buttercream Gang. A former member of the gang goes on a rampage in the store, yelling at his friends for trying to help him. They don't understand why he is treating them so badly when they are trying to be his friends again. He answers, "Because I hate myself!" Once he learns to love himself as his friends love him, he becomes a good person again and reconnects with his old friends.

Loving ourselves is not easy. There are many reasons why we don't love ourselves: sins, weaknesses, physical insecurities, emotional insecurities, abuse, lies, false comparisons, etc. But there is one reason why we should love ourselves that crushes all the reasons not to: Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us. We are so full of worth that Jesus suffered agonizing pain and death for us without ever stopping loving us.

Their love is incomprehensible to our human minds sometimes, allowing Satan to plant lies about this doctrine. An article in the October Ensign addressed these lies and reminded us that God's love is unconditional and eternal and that the Atonement can take away our negative feelings about ourselves.

Challenge: Read the article in the Ensign. Choose one lie that you frequently fall for and work on dispelling it with the truth.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Time is a mind-boggling concept. The scriptures reveal that our time and God's time are greatly different. We obsess over it, because we know that our earthly time is a gift. Most of us are appreciative of this gift, understanding that each day on earth is precious and can be taken away at any moment. However, with so many distractions and things to do, we usually do not use our time wisely.

The Lord advised us, "Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways" (D&C 75:29). We can be more diligent by being better organized, not being lazy, and quitting our addictions to less important things. I believe that last one is vital. Most of us do not struggle with excessive laziness--we are very busy and deserve the few breaks we get. I think the biggest problem we must overcome is dedicating our time to things that don't deserve it.

In Conference of October 1979, before Facebook and YouTube and "Lost," Elder William R. Bradford said regarding time, "If you have a twenty-hour-a-week television habit and would repent and convert it into a gospel-study habit, in one year you could read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the entire Bible. In addition, you could read Jesus the Christ, The Articles of Faith, Gospel Principles, the basic priesthood manual, the basic women’s manual, the basic children’s manual, all three volumes of Doctrines of Salvation, The Miracle of Forgiveness, The Promised Messiah, and Essentials in Church History, and could then reread the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. This would still leave time to read the Ensign, the New Era, and the Friend each month and the Church News each week. This is based on your ability to read only ten pages an hour. The average person can read twenty pages or more an hour. If you are average, this leaves you with ten hours a week to govern yourself in other kingdom-building activities, such as keeping a personal journal, genealogy and temple work, improved home teaching, welfare services, civic and patriotic involvement to protect our freedom, and much more."

What an eye-opening statement! We have no right to complain about diminishing spirituality and happiness when it is a result of our own poor time management. We must give our salvation, which includes family and Church, first priority. This means more than just working on it first; we also have to give it its fair share of time. The scriptures command us to (see D&C 60:13, 2 Nephi 9:27, and D&C 88:124), and we covenanted in the temple to dedicate our time and talents to building up the kingdom. We need to measure an activity's importance by its relevance to that commandment and covenant. If we do, we will find greater peace and enjoyment in life.

Challenge: Find something to help you manage your time better: use a planner, have weekly family council, get up or go to bed earlier, limit your TV or computer time using a timer or alarm clock, pray for strength, etc.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Chilly weather. Snow. Winter clothes. Cookies. Candy canes. Gingerbread houses. Hot chocolate. Fireplaces. Lights. Wreaths. Trees. Holly. Mistletoe. Green. Red. Gifts. Shopping. Parties. Decorations. Bells. Sleigh rides. Sledding. Snowmen. Carols. Music. Concerts. Santa. Reindeer. Elves. Penguins. Smiles. Laughter.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Christmas is coming! It is no coincidence that so much beauty and happiness surround the holiday celebrating Christ's birth. (And the holiday celebrating His death and resurrection, for that matter, but that's a different post.) Whether people like it or not, there is no escaping the symbolism and spirit of Christmas. Yet people forget the source of it all.

Angels. Choirs. Stars. Wise men. Shepherds. Baby. Pageants. Hymns. Praise. Family. Church. Prophets. Prophecies. Scriptures. Parables. Charity. Service. Love. Joy. Peace. Humility. Hearts. Blessings. Birth. Death. Resurrection. Light. Life. King. Son. Heaven. Earth. Eternity.

Now are you thinking what I'm thinking?

The Savior! He came over 2000 years ago and He will come again. Let Him come to mind first when we think of Christmas and all it brings.

Challenge: Find and include Christ in every aspect and tradition of Christmas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The First Presidency Christmas Devotional

Yesterday evening I watched the Christmas Devotional at our stake center. It was absolutely beautiful! It opened with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and congregation singing "The First Noel" and then after the prayer the Choir singing "For unto Us a Child Is Born" from Handel's Messiah. They sang with such contagious joyfulness.

President Uchtdorf spoke first about seeing Christ with the heart. He quoted from The Little Prince, "Anything essential is invisible to the eye." Although many saw Christ with their eyes, they did not see Him with their hearts and accept Him as their Savior and Redeemer. President Uchtdorf exhorted us to unclutter our lives and let it be the season of seeking the Savior with our hearts.

The Choir then sang "O Holy Night," my favorite Christmas hymn. I love when the Choir sings! President Eyring followed reminding us that the story of Christmas is a story of love. He advised us to create a small part of the Christmas story every day in our lives and make every day feel like the best of Christmas past.

The Choir sang "How Far Is It to Bethlehem?" and then President Monson addressed us. He talked about the spirit of Christmas, sharing a touching story as usual, and how joy comes from showing the love and compassion of the Savior. The Choir closed singing "Silent Night," with the congregation joining on the last verse.

I must admit, by the end of the devotional my Scrooge-like heart melted and I was touched with the spirit of Christmas.

Challenge: If you didn't watch the devotional, watch it at lds.org. Then choose something--seeking Christ, showing love, sharing the Christmas spirit--to work on this Christmas season.