Satan is so tricky. I can’t believe how often and seemingly easily he can tempt me to turn my strengths into weaknesses. He tempts me to turn my gift of persuasion into manipulation. He tempts me to turn my ability to command attention into becoming the court jester. For every strength I have Satan has shown me just how easily it can turn into a weakness, usually in a way that appeals to my pride, and at times I’ve stumbled and succumbed.
As his pattern has become clear, I’ve learned to identify the inherent mortal imperfections that come with my gifts and Satan’s attempts to tempt me become obvious. The Book of Moses is a fantastic example of this type of clarity. (Hint: This is one reason studying our spiritual gifts in our patriarchal blessings is so important. Click here for that post.) Satan has shown me how easy it is to turn my strengths into weaknesses, so there is clearly a fine line between the two, so how come it is so hard to turn my weaknesses into strengths? We are promised in Ether 12:27 that it is possible:
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.
This is not something I’ve seemed to have very much success at.
This morning, like a bolt of lightening, it dawned on me that I’ve has an extremely narrow view of how this process works, therefore limiting my success in accomplishing the task. All this time I’ve been looking for Heavenly Father to correct or reverse my weaknesses. Although it is possible and sometimes necessary for it to be done this way, of course using the atonement of Jesus Christ, it is a very difficult process. We do not always have to reverse our weaknesses to make them strengths, but change how we use that specific trait.
For example: I have a big mouth that is constantly spewing forth word vomit with little or no sign of a filter. To say it’s gotten me in trouble sometimes would be a huge understatement. I’ve inadvertently embarrassed, hurt, or left many people feeling uncomfortable over the years. However, one day I realized that the ability my big mouth had to speak before my mind caught up could be a strength when it came to speaking with the Holy Ghost. If the Spirit needs me to say something and places a little prompting to do so in my brain, it’s out before I even register the thought. This major element of my personality is not a weakness, just a previously misunderstood strength. To make my big mouth a strength I have cultivate a relationship with the Holy Ghost that ensures his constant companionship. As I learn to do so, a filter hasn’t magically appeared, but the source material becomes more pure so a filter is unnecessary. (Obviously this is still a work in progress.)
Back to Ether 12:27, it teaches us that it requires our humility to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Having a weakness taken away, changed, or perfected appeals to my pride. I want to be perfect, and I want it now. Impatience is also a weakness of mine. (Don’t worry, I’ve already started brainstorming on how to use my lack of patience as a strength.) In my mind it takes far more humility to say to Heavenly Father, “Okay, I will keep this imperfection if that is thy will, but teach me how to use it to serve thee.” Bigger miracles always seem more appealing than the smaller ones, but “the Lord’s usual pattern is to work miracles in quiet, anonymous ways, without fanfare, without drama, so they do not become the primary basis for one’s faith.” (The Blueprint of Christ’s Church, Tad R. Callister, p. 17)
I truly believe that recognizing that I don’t always have to wait for my weakness to make a 180 degree turn to transform my weaknesses into strengths will significantly speed up the process of doing so. As we learn, through Christ, how to use our weaknesses to serve Him, they are no longer weaknesses, but mere imperfections. Things that have no sin attached, but merely a sign of our mortality that will be corrected with our perfect resurrected bodies, making that day of resurrection all the more glorious to each of us individually. I am so excited for that day!