The topic of self esteem is likely the one that self help books cover most frequently. There are a lot of us who are yearning to feel better about ourselves then we do right now and we are desperate for guidance on how to do so.
There is no house so nice, no pants so perfectly fit, no hair cut so fantastic, that you will gain eternal self esteem. Those things may give you a temporary boost, but they are not lasting. Additionally, and this is the real deception out there, self esteem is not self generated. The true secret to gaining self esteem is simple: Self esteem is a testimony of your own worth given to us by our Heavenly Father that will stand strong eternally. True self esteem is not generated by yourself, but comes internally through Jesus Christ. To have self esteem, you must gain and nurture it the same way you would any other testimony.
The scriptures in Mosiah 10:3-5 are the classic verses describing how to gain a testimony.
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
(Moroni 10:3-5, emphasis added)
We often just skim over verse 3 to get to the dessert in verses 4-5. However, verse 3 is the one that contains the action words required to gain the witness described in verse 4.5 We need to read, remember and ponder.
We are not going to gain a testimony of something we know nothing about. We need to immerse ourselves in sincere and purposeful study of the scriptures and your patriarchal blessing to gain an understanding of our divine nature (meaning our relationship to God), our individual worth (meaning our identity and worth as a unique and distinct person) and the role of the atonement in becoming more like Jesus Christ to build the basis of our testimony.
We are eternal beings with eternal personalities, knowledge, strengths, talents and goals. The veil that was drawn as we entered the limitations of mortality hid a portion of our eternal identity. As we draw closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ, the veil will become thin and we will be able to gain access to the portions of our eternal identities that we had forgotten. We will begin to remember who we really are.
Our study of the scriptures does not end when we shut the book in the morning. We must keep all these things in our hearts and ponder them (Luke 2:19). We need to take the puzzle pieces of the individual doctrines and principles we are learning and remembering and put them together to create new ideas and understanding. The Holy Ghost as our companion will guide us as we do so, but we must actually do the work.
Only after we have sincerely acted on the advice in verse 3 are we able to receive the kind of manifestation that is described in verses 4-5 of Moroni 10. As we pray, specifically asking with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith, to gain a testimony of our self esteem we will be blessed with a confirmation of the truthfulness of our worth that is independent from the world.
Like any testimony, it can be lost if not properly maintained. President Benson teaches us how to maintain our testimony of self esteem when he said:
If we love God, do His will, and fear His judgement more than men’s, we will have self-esteem.
(Beware of Pride, Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1989)
To keep our self esteem testimony we must be continually obedient to the commandments, both those generally given and those which are given to us individually through personal revelation (the two will align perfectly), and continually worry more about what God thinks of us than what those around us think of us.
Every single one of us is an individual worth feeling good about. This kind of true and eternal self esteem will give us the confidence to accomplish our individual mission on earth and remind us that we have the power to overcome Satan. As we become more familiar with our self worth and our eternal individual identity it will be easier to weed out the deceptions of Satan we may have previously believed about ourselves. Properly gained and maintained our self esteem testimony will be a barrier of protection against our trails and afflictions. Satan will no longer be able to fool us about ourselves because we know who we really are and the light of Jesus Christ will be able to flow unfiltered through us.
Our Heavenly Father is yearning to be given the opportunity to help each of us understand who we are and how much He loves us. Even if our efforts aren’t perfect, the action of using our agency to choose to gain this type of knowledge allows Him to begin to teach us. I truly believe that we will be amazed at how astounding we really are as we learn about ourselves from the person who knows us best.