Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Sum of It All....A Real Man

I have the wonderful opportunity to work closely with a lot of men.  In the process of learning a lot about them and the struggles they have in life, I have observed and learned how personally we take our struggles, and how we let our imperfections keep us from growing. 

Let me explain.  All the men I deal with are men of great character and strength.  I am often humbled by the burdens they carry, but most often I am astounded by the amazing men they are: Strong, compassionate, determined men who want to do what is right.  They are men who lift up others around them and are examples of goodness and righteous behavior.  They are men I want to be like.   What is the catch?  In all their goodness, often all they can see is their struggle.  All they see is weakness and it blurs the total vision of who they are. 

I will describe this in a way that will hopefully make better sense.  I learn about these men and how good they are.  I see the light of Christ in their eyes and feel the strength of their spirits, and yet they beat themselves up over weaknesses they have.  In the case of weaknesses that would be considered a sin, I do not want to diminish the challenge of sin.   All sin is wrong and needs to be worked on and taken away from our character, but often we allow the sin to dictate who we are.  If allowed, that sin becomes the whole of who we are, and not just a small component included in everything good that we are.  For example,  if a man has a problem with moral sin, like masturbation, in his eyes it is overwhelming and totally weighs him down.  He bases his whole person on that problem.  It is a problem and one that must be overcome, but in view of the total picture of who he is, it is small in comparison.  Once again I am not trying to diminish or justify sin,  I am just trying to put it into perspective.

The problem comes when we listen to the adversary whispers that we are worthless or nothing.  Especially after we sin, he tells us we are worthless and might as well give in.  So we give up and sin again, and so he whispers again and again.  It is hard to get out of the circle of his whispers when we only focus on the sin and our weakness.  He makes it seem impossible, and he makes us feel like we are without hope or that we will never overcome and rise above the sin.  He is the master at clouding our vision and not allowing us to see the complete picture of who we really are.

Who are we really?  We are Sons of God with unlimited potential and divine potential; men of great value and strength.  We are strong men who love and care for others, and keep so many other commandments.  We are men that God loves and honors because of our efforts to do good.  Really, in the big picture of who we are, some of the things we struggle with are small and of little consequence.  They can be easily overcome when we focus on who we really are and not who Satan wants us to believe we are. 

Yes it is hard to deal with the shame of sin.  But the vast majority of the shame comes because Satan wants to bring us down to his level.  The Savior’s way is not to fill us with shame.  His way for us is love and understanding and hope.  He understands we will sin, and has provided a way to overcome the sin.  But lets be realistic; the need for the atonement would be of no value if we were perfect. The only way to become perfect is when we allow the atonement to cleanse our sins.  The atonement has the power to lift us up and  make us better; to give us the power to resist sin and see the value of who we are even when we are struggling with weakness.  Satan's power drags us down.  When we feel  like we are nothing; when we beat ourselves up constantly, who's plan are we following?  Satan's plan.  

We should absolutely be concerned about our weaknesses and struggles.  We need to work on overcoming and becoming more Christlike.  However, if all we do is dwell on the sin and not on who we really are, we will never overcome and rise to the potential of who we really can be. 

In summary, a Real Man is one who recognizes his weakness and is anxiously engaged in overcoming them.  But a Real Man also sees his total worth is the Lord’s eyes and as he sees this, it gives him courage and strength to be better.  

Let’s focus on the divine nature each of us possesses and not focus on our own sins and those of others.  Do we see in the everyone’s eyes the precious spirit of God that dwells there?  Life is a challenge and as we look at the whole person and not just the sin, we can and will see greatness in others and ourselves.

I struggle everyday with weaknesses and faults, but as I ponder and pray I realize that the things I struggle with are a small part of who I really am.  That knowledge gives me the strength to ignore the constant whisperings of Satan telling me I am worthless.   No matter my struggles,  I am a Son of God with unlimited potential and value.  We all are.


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