Monday, March 28, 2016

Exchanging My Gold Stars for a Golden Heart

I was nursing Beckett tonight and pondering how prideful I am. I've realized it's second nature to me to size someone up and put them on a mental tier, either above or below mine. That sounds horrible because it is horrible. I've been praying and wondering how to overcome this awful habit, and I had an interesting experience tonight.

As I rocked my baby I wondered why I judge people, and especially why I find a certain smugness in putting someone on a tier below mine.

The Lord has told me that I need to be focusing on two weaknesses right now: anger and fear. These came to me as I pondered my pride. I realized that fear is at the root of this, but fear of what?

Fear of being the least. The least smart, the least attractive, the least sophisticated, the least well-dressed, the least well-spoken, etc. Growing up, I was very praise-oriented. I excelled in school and sports, and I loved the praise and validation I would get at being "the best." To be "the least" would be so embarrassing, so pathetic, so shameful.

When I judge someone and determine that they are "less than" me in some way, I assuage my fear of being the least. If I can find someone else in the room or at the store or in the chapel that is "the least," that means I'm safe from the title. My fear of the judgment of others had eclipsed my fear of God.

But how to change? I believe Christ can help. Here's what I visualized tonight while I rocked:

I imagined gathering all the "gold stars" I've collected and treasured. Gold stars for academics, gold stars for having cute clothes (not many, but more than "the least"!), gold stars for shopping at certain stores, gold stars for speaking a certain way, gold stars for how my teeth look, gold stars for how I can carry on a conversation smoothly, gold stars for being "modest," gold stars for wearing stylish shoes, gold stars for wearing shoes that aren't too stylish, gold stars for saying something funny, gold stars for having normal kids, gold stars for being a homeowner in a nice neighborhood, gold stars for my politics, gold stars for what books I like, gold stars for what TV shows I don't watch, gold stars for everything! I put them all in a plain cardboard box.

I imagined the Savior standing in front of me. Head bowed, I handed Him the box, embarrassed. It was full of stars, but devoid of worth. Would He set it on fire? Take each one out and rip it in half?

He accepted the box and immediately put it behind Him, out of sight, not bothering to examine the contents. Then he presented me with a golden heart: charity. The answer to my fears, for perfect love casteth out all fear (Moroni 8:16)! I put the golden heart on my chest with joy. This heart is a gift from Christ, not a product of the judgments and comparisons of mortals. Charity delights in lifting "the least," and not in keeping them low so I can feel high.

For inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto   me. (D&C 42:38) 
I know I still have work ahead of me as I strive to fully accept a new heart from Christ. Old habits and fears will tempt me, but I am glad the Lord has shown me the fear at the root of my pride so I can fight that fear with charity and truth.

Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. 
And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, 
And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.  Luke 9:46-48


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