"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing." (1 Cor. 13:2)
In 1968 when I made my final, irrevocable decision to keep the commandments with all my might for the rest of my mortal days, I set for myself a goal. I determined to become a sweet person, kind, gentle, considerate, thoughtful, empathetic, and charitable. And over the last 35 years I have made negligible progress if any. What am I doing wrong?
Oh, I have made great progress with my checklist. I don't smoke any more. I don't use tea, coffee, or alcohol. I pay my tithing. I attend my meetings, do a lot of my home teaching, do missionary work, work on my family history, attend the temple, have family home evening, study the scriptures most days, have family prayer, and so forth. I'm doing great with the checklist. But am I actually a kinder, more charitable person? Most of the time, it doesn't seem that way to me.
I am appalled by the stupidity of Other People. I have almost no sympathy for inactive members who break their promises to the Lord and then cry when their lives end up in the sewer. I am angry with the dissidents and other Signaturi who enjoy the benefits of Church membership while biting the hand that feeds them. Mormon bashers in and of the Church disgust me, especially those who wallow in Digging for Dirt Church history. I think that people who reject the message of the gospel from our missionaries are brain dead losers. I find laughable the predicament of faithful sisters who have faithlessly married nonmembers. I know that in most cases their loser husbands are going to just break their hearts, and what is worse, they asked for it when they violated prophetic counsel by marrying outside the Church.
What is the matter with me? How do I get a better attitude? When will I become a charitable person? If 35 years isn't enough, how long is it going to take? The Apostle Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 13 that the checklist isn't going to win me the prize. Exaltation is not down the road for me if I don't have charity. But how do I get some?
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." (James 1:2-6)
See also Nephi's prayer in 2 Nephi ch. 4.
"And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I
baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, [...]" (3 Nephi 9:20)
IOW, you are correct: dump the checklist and ask God in humility exactly what He wants you to be doing. (Rather than telling Him what you think you ought to be doing and asking Him to make it work out.) Then the hard part: doing it the way the Lord wants . . . ;-)
From someone who has struggled with the same questions,
-- Ronn! :)
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