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Gramps,

I do believe in the Godhead, the gospel, the atonement, his love and many other things, but I still CAN’T get it if I don’t feel special or unique about myself as to loving and accepting myself. I mean I don’t see the point to it. A friend told me that “If you DON’T accept the atonement (his love,) then you do not feel special yourself to accept the atonement that he died just for ‘you’.”

Is accepting and believing different or just the same as mentioned above? Are there any scriptures or statements from church leaders to improve ourselves (our accepting-believing attitudes)?

Thanks.

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Drew, from Utah

Dear Drew,

That’s a pretty complicated question, but let’s see if we can say something about it. First, you affirm your believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, you apparently don’t feel very good about yourself, and it sounds like you are wondering if there is a connection between the two. Well, in some sense there is and in another sense there isn’t. The gospel is true independent of our individual beliefs about it. So, your knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel can be independent of how you feel about yourself. Never doubt your testimony just because you may feel unworthy to receive all the blessings associated with.

If you don’t feel good about yourself, understanding the gospel and the application of gospel principles can have a powerful effect in helping you feel better. Now, you didn’t mention why you don’t feel good about yourself. So, let me propose a couple of possibilities that may or may not apply.

1. You are in violation of some of the principles of the gospel, and your knowledge of the gospel has made you ashamed of your actions. But they are still a part of your life, so you feel unworthy.

2. You have committed some indiscretions in the past, have repented of them by changing your life so that they are no longer a part of you, but you still feel unworthy for having committed them in the first place.

Let’s say a word about the first possibility. It is appropriate not to feel good about oneself if one is in violation of gospel principles. The only recourse is to change whatever is troubling you by getting rid of it. The word “Repentance” seems to set some sort of formalism in our minds, and may come to represent a sort of mechanical procedure to follow. But let’s talk about the concept without using the word. If we feel that there is something in our thinking, or in our behavior or in our character that is not desirable, in order to feel better, we must get rid of it. That doesn’t mean that we slap ourselves on the wrist whenever we are tempted, so that we will resist the temptation. In that case, we haven’t really gotten rid of it, we are just controlling it. To get rid of it, we must get it out of our system, so that it is no longer a part of us. If it had been some undesirable action that we were committing, we must come to feel that we wouldn’t be caught dead doing it again. That is repentance. When we feel that way, we can and will feel good about ourselves.

Possibility number two- Let’s say that you have thoroughly repented of some past transgression and can’t bring yourself to feel good because of what had happened in the past. This is one of the most subtle tools of Satan- If he can no longer make us violate the commandments, he tries to make us feel like we’re not worth anything because we had done something wrong in the past. If we still feel unworthy, we limit our ability to perform in the Kingdom, and Satan wins anyway. Concerning repentance from sin, the Lord has said the following:

Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins-behold, he will confess them and forsake them (D&C 58:42-43).

That doesn’t mean that the Lord has a loss of memory; it means that when our lives are reviewed by the Savior, that part of them will not be brought up for discussion or consideration. Why? Because they are no longer a part of us. It’s as if they had been committed by someone else-a person in the past, who had the same name that we have, but was a different person. The Lord judges us as we are, not as we were! So, there is really no point in hanging on to something that is not us, that is not part of our character. And realizing where those feelings come from, we can turn the tables on the Adversary and make him feel miserable for his failure to drag us down, rather than him making us feel miserable so that we will not lift ourselves up.

Gramps

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