I know we all have them! That one deep dark flaw we just can't overcome. I'm not talking about something trivial like chomping your food or biting your fingernails. That does not even come close to my most loathed personal character flaw that I am about to reveal.
Why I would be so inclined to talk about something so personal...something that I genuinely cannot stand about myself? It does seem kinda crazy, but I believe that sometimes being completely open and honest can bring about greater change than hiding things away in secret.
Just to show my "theory" in action, I'll share a little of my upbringing. Because of a series of events that would take way too long to explain, both my siblings ended up living outside my single mothers home. From the time I was in 6th or 7th grade I was basically an only child. Our family was constantly under the scrutinizing eye of others, and because of this we chose to be very closed off and private about our lives. I got used to not talking about anything that went on at home. Normally teenagers rant about how unfair their parents are or arguments they had, but for me I worried that anything I said would be to our detriment. What I didn't realize is that I was creating a very lonely and depressing barrier between myself and others. It brought me down big time.
It wasn't until I went to college and had the best roommates ever that I learned to be open and share what was going on in my life. I learned that I could be real, that I would still be loved, and that my trials became a lot more manageable because I didn't feel isolated and alone.
|This isn't even the whole crew. We still love each other this much!|
At some point in my college career (which is STILL going on almost 10 years later) I became a very passionate person about odd things. I expected everyone to be just as passionate as I was. I often was outspoken and got myself into trouble. The thing is, at that time in my life I didn't care if other people didn't like my opinions or if they were hurt by my abrasiveness. (Writing this makes me actually wonder if my previous tendency to be closed off and private and then learning to be more open and honest was me going from one extreme to the other. Here's to me learning a good middle ground, I guess!)
Eventually I left college to go on a 18-month proselyting mission, and this is where I received my wake up call, my slap in the face. I was in a personal interview with my Mission President (my mentor of sorts) where we talked about a how I was doing or concerns that I had and he shared with me these two words:
zealous; ardent; impassioned: a vehement defense; vehement enthusiasm.
characterized by rancor or anger; violent: vehement hostility.
strongly emotional; intense or passionate: vehement desire.
marked by great energy or exertion; strenuous: vehement clapping.
|Think something like this!|
At the time I had no clue what they meant. He said these were words that described me, and gave a brief explanation of what they meant. I was cut to the core...how could someone I respected and even loved so much, point out this HUGE flaw. For some strange reason I wasn't offended. I think I knew he was right. He went on to tell me that I had spent 21 years obtaining these habits and characteristics and that it would probably take that long to overcome them. That's a daunting thought right! The only advice I remember him giving is to take time to think before I speak. If I think I need to say something, wait 10 seconds and if I still feel like it should be said, then do it. I went home and looked the words up in the dictionary reading them over and over. If I could, I probably would have tattooed them onto my forehead or arm as a reminder of just how long they would be expected to stick around! I cried and cried, probably for days even.
When I came home from my mission I'd like to think that others may have noticed a bit of a difference in me. Whether that is the case or not I do not know. I did try really hard to manage my flaws and felt pretty good about how it was going. Then I got married! hahahaha What I have learned since being married is that I tend to reserve my worst habits for those I love and care for the most. Why is it that I treat complete strangers and acquaintances better than I do those that mean the most to me? Is that normal? Do other people do that too? I think about what my mentor said all those years back again and again, and yet I still fail! I say unkind things without thinking, things that are hurtful, things that can definitely go without being said.
Side note: I am so thankful that I have a husband who is just about the complete opposite of me in most every case. He has such an amazing ability to know exactly what to say and say it in a way that is not offensive and mean. I am glad that I have him as an example of what I should do. I am lucky that he puts up with me and that he stands by my side even when he is usually the one that sees me at my worst.
I keep wondering how am I going to change this? How am I going to remember to think before I speak? I even asked Mr. Medic if he could remind me, but obviously that wouldn't work so well. He can't do the work for me. Maybe if I ran to the public library and checked out all the self help books known to man, I could really make a dent in this transformation. But then I am reminded of a quote I once read:
"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior" -Boyd K. Packer
I guess I know my answer, but knowing is only part of the solution. What that quote means to me is that if I am to overcome my nasty flaw then I need to study the gospel of Jesus Christ AND understand it. Once I understand what I study, I would naturally act in a better way. I would be able to access many of the Saviors attributes within myself because I have learned of Him and know how He would want me to be.
Easier said than done. Not to mention what my mentor said about it taking just as long to break a habit as it did to make it. I'm in for a long transformation, and sometimes that keeps me from even trying. But now is the time...I really want to make it happen before I see the same characteristics develop in my children.
I am working on setting some goals to help me get this process going instead of just thinking about it. Here are a few ideas I have so far:
-Of course I will be working on the think-for-10-seconds-before-I-speak thing
-Amp up my study of the scriptures
-Incorporate some kind of study journal in addition to scripture study
-Study from the manuel "Preach My Gospel" published by my church.
(The manuel has a section that is all about Christlike Attributes. There is even a little quiz at the end of the section you can take and see what areas need improvement.)
I will be adding to this list as time goes and may be expanding on them a bit. I hope that by writing them down I can hold myself a little more accountable. I may even give an update on how things are going.
Without sharing your flaws, unless you feel so inclined, I would love to hear some suggestions or ideas on how you have made changes for the better in your own life. Even those silly ideas like snapping your wrist with a rubber band when you do something you shouldn't. I say it all the time, but I honestly believe that we can learn from one another and I am totally willing to give anything a try. And its not just for me, I think that everyone can benefit from new and different ideas.