Imagine my surprise when Christ turned my thoughts and my heart back to the Twelve-Step principles that He had led me to use several years before to overcome my compulsive need to hurt myself with food. Under the tutelage of His own Spirit, conveyed to me through the Holy Ghost, I began to search the Book of Mormon from cover to cover—verse by verse—for these twelve principles or concepts.
I found them confirmed on every hand, in every point!
With renewed dedication, I began to take these steps again, one at a time, in order. I did so with real intent, with greater faith in Christ than I had ever experienced when addressing my eating behavior.
Using these principles as a guide I began to come closer and closer to the Savior. I began to examine my heart to its depths. I inventoried and admitted not only my negative behaviors, but also my negative thoughts and beliefs—the roots of my faithless, self-degrading, and defeating choices over all the preceding years. With fear and trembling, I brought all the “hidden things of darkness,” all the lies I had been harboring in my own soul, out into the light of His living reality as it was beginning to dawn in my heart and mind. I was sure that His wrathful judgment would be waiting for me.
I will never be able to adequately describe the miracle of that moment of complete confession to Him, of complete admission of my unworthiness before Him. To my amazement, I did not perceive Him frown at me and tell me not to approach Him, unclean as I was. Instead, I perceived that He smiled upon me and took me in His arms. He showed no concern, much less fear or judgment of my soiled, fallen condition. Instead, I felt His light flooding into the dark places in my heart and mind, illuminating and cleansing them. One by one, as I allowed Him access to these hidden, wounded places, He changed my very disposition or inclination to think or do evil toward anyone—myself or others.
As is so beautifully described in D&C 88:63, I found that as I drew nearer unto the Lord, He did indeed draw near unto me. My soul began to feel His peace. That peace that “passeth understanding” which is His hallmark filled my soul. I knew I was in His presence, and not just occasionally, not just in moments of desperate emergency, but daily, sometimes hourly. Anytime I wanted to be still and reach out to Him in my thoughts, I found He was only a thought away.
Through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost, I began to recognize His voice, even as One crying in the wilderness of my mind (D&C 88:66). His words began to guide me and counsel me in all things whatsoever I should do. And gradually, as I learned to trust and live by every word that proceeded from Him, I found myself in His rest, in His spirit. Eventually, in perfect assurance by His own witness to my soul, I learned that I am precious in His sight. (D&C 88:68)
There are no affirmations, no matter how often you listen to them or speak before a mirror, that can instill the kind of self-worth that knowing the personal esteem of Jesus Christ for me has instilled in my soul. Because of it, I do not function today from a place of “self-esteem,” but from a place of knowing God’s esteem. The actions I have taken to “take [myself] out of the slums,” as President Benson put it, have been actions deeply grounded in God’s esteem for me. I have come to know a part of the testimony of Jesus Christ that I never suspected—His testimony of me.
I cannot express how grateful I am for the ultimate freedom His testimony of me grants me each new day, as I follow His commandments and seek to retain His witness. It is not a freedom from trials or even from mistakes, as I once thought it would be. Instead it is a freedom from the greatest fear I inherited in this fallen world—that somehow I am not enough and that I was not going to make it.
I know today, that I am enough in the sight of God. I do not have to qualify—in fact I cannot qualify—for His love. Nothing I could ever do would equal His love for me. My efforts to please Him, to be like Him, do not come from by trying to be worthy. They are motivated by this pure knowledge of His love for me. I know that He loves me with a love that is a reflection of my eternal worth, and that He will make sure I make it, if I will just keep coming back to Him and trying to live by His Spirit and His word, relying on His power to do so.
I don’t have to earn Christ’s Atonement.
All I need to do is open my heart to Him and His word to me, and abide—one day at a time—in the liberty wherewith He has made me free. (D&C 88:86)
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