Saturday, June 10, 2017

WHO, ME??

“Pride affects all of us at various times and in various degrees (President Ezra Taft Benson, 1989 [i]).

Recently while visiting family members, my niece’s friendly, 14 month-old son taught us a valuable lesson about interpersonal relationships.

When we arrived, after a short period of getting acquainted, he accepted us as belonging: after all Nana, Papa, mommy, and daddy—everyone he knows and trusts—hugged us and seemed delighted to see us.

My sister, his Nana, and I look a lot alike. We laughed to see his eyes swiveling back and forth between us. That seemed to reassure him, and soon he allowed me to play with him and even carry him when he was a tiny bit fussy.

My husband, proud Papa to our own 19 grandchildren, began to play typical baby games including lightly touching a place he’d announce, such as “finger,” or “toes.” Encouraged by successes with “ear” and “nose,” he pointed to the baby’s chin while saying, “chin.” Baby’s eyes grew wide, and he turned away almost crying. We were all puzzled.

What could possibly cause the word ‘chin’ to frighten a child?

Not to be easily deterred, my husband soon tried again. He saw no harm in the simple game. The baby cried out, and I returned him to Nana.

She comforted him, and he quieted.

The next afternoon baby cut two, new bottom teeth.

None of us had realized his mouth, or chin, might be sensitive.


“Psychologists tell us … we all have limited facts and active biases. No human sees clearly,” teaches Dr. H. Wallace Goddard, Professor of Family Life for the University of Arkansas, in his book Drawing Heaven Into Your Marriage
(2007, p.63). 

Goddard reminds us that pride causes us to be attuned “to our own needs as the standard of judgment,” causing us to “presume” what others think and feel. We then “define the problem—whatever it is—in terms of [them]” (p.64).

PRIDE

“Pride is the universal sin, the great vice,” said President Ezra Taft Benson, and then repeated, “Yes, pride is the universal sin, the great vice. (1989)

Sin?  What is sin? 

Youth in my Sunday School class in 2012 decided sin is anything that divides or separates us from God, and the great plan He has for our happiness.

Divides? Separates?

The youth (age 14-16) gave an example.

If we divide 4 by 2 we get 2.
Two is less than 4. 
But says the mathematician,
"now you have more pieces."


Exactly!  If we have a pizza, and cut it into pieces, each piece is separated into less than a whole pizza. (And if a greedy sibling cuts the pizza, and gets first choice, you can almost guarantee that some pieces will be bigger than others and you will get the smaller ones.)

So what is sin?

If dividing is less of something,
is sin less happiness?

We all could understand that it is.
Sin is choosing less happiness.


Sin is anything that diminishes real, lasting joy.

I want to be happy.
And I want happiness to last!
I want joy!

What about you?

The sin of pride, separates marriages, families, and communities from more happiness, by turning all into enemies—including God and self.

UNAWARE

President Benson taught that many may not even be aware that their "faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond [their] means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous” are manifestations of pride. The scripture teach that some sin in ignorance (See Mosiah 3:113 Ne. 6:18Mosiah 1:3-7).

            Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

            The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition’ (Benson, 1989).

President Benson thoroughly explored how “Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves”
(See 2 Ne. 9:42).

Looking with envy at those who are richer or more talented can be as prideful as despising those with less.
                 
"Pride adversely affects all our relationships—our relationship with God and His servants, between husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, teacher and student, and all mankind.

"Our degree of pride determines how we treat [others]” (Benson, 1989).

                  
Be a Little Kinder, taught President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Although in our mind we think we are harmless and without fault, in fact we may entirely fail to perceive truths or realities. Goddard explains:

The natural mind is an enemy to truth. Each one of us sees our own versions of ‘truth’ and imagines that no one in the world sees truth as clearly as we do … [thus preventing] us from connecting with others …. Humility is the friend of truth [which] opens us up to the experience of others and to truth from heaven.
(2007; p.63).
AN ANTIDOTE

Benson penetratingly asked if we follow the example of Jesus Christ to lift others, or instead give Satan power “to reign over us.” And he suggested an antidote: “humility” (Benson 1989). 
  •        Do we hate anyone giving us counsel, correction, or perhaps asking us to do our share? (Prov. 15:10Amos 5:10.)

    The proud defensively “justify and rationalize their frailties and failures” (Benson, 1989; See also 
    Matt. 3:9John 6:30–59).
     .   .   . 
    Can
     we get along and go along?
    can .   .   .
  •        Do we contend? “Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride … The scriptures tell us that “only by pride cometh contention.” (Benson, 1989; Prov. 13:10; see also Prov. 28:25.) 

    Can we make peace?
    .
  •        Do we give or take offense readily, nurse hurt feelings and grudges, or “withhold forgiveness to keep another in [our] debt” and “justify … injured feelings?”(Benson, 1989; 1Ne.16:1–3).
    .  .  . 
    Can
     we forgive and forget?
Alma, a Book of Mormon prophet, taught the people of the city Gideon

be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive. And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works. (Alma 7:23-24).

“The antidote for pride … is the broken heart and contrite spirit”
(Benson, 1989; See 3 Ne. 9:203 Ne. 12:19D&C 20:37D&C 59:8
Ps. 34:18Isa. 57:15Isa. 66:2).


HUMILITY

Becoming humble challenges pride. It may be difficult.  Elder M. Russell Ballard quips "Failure is only when you quit trying...if you keep working at a task and try to do what's right and honest, ultimately it works out."

Ballard reminds listeners: “Set goals that are well balanced—not too many nor too few, and not too high nor too low. Write down your attainable goals and work on them according to their importance. Pray for divine guidance in your goal setting” (April 1987).
  

Ballard also helps me understand family priorities:

When [you] make family and religious commitments
. . . societies at large are strengthened as families grow.stronger.

Commitments to family and values are the basic cause. Nearly everything else is effect.

. . .

So the bad news is that family breakdown is causing a host of societal and economic ills.

But the good news is that, like any cause and effect, those ills can be reversed if what is causing them is changed.

Inequities are resolved by living correct principles and values.  If we will devote ourselves to this cause, we will improve every other aspect of our lives”
(April 2012). 

Family and marriage relationships are work, but are critical to eternal happiness.

It is important to accept and validate feelings and feedback conveyed from all with whom we interact. Just like our niece’s baby really didn’t have a way to let anyone know he was going through a painful experience, our loved ones many not be able to send their message in a way we easily understand.

They may only be able to cry out, and we may misunderstand intent, desires, needs, expectations, and feelings. They need comfort.


Concern for, and consideration of others replaces the hatred and hostility of enmity with charity and compassion. Service and gratitude soften our hearts and theirs, promote patience, and foster the forgiveness toward others that (with inexpressible gratitude) we begin to recognize as necessary, and seek for self in submissive obedience to a loving Father; God, the Father of all. 

References:

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Keeping Life’s Demands In Balance,”157th Annual  General Conference, April 1987

Elder M. Russell Ballard, "That the Lost May Be Found," 1 April 2012, or  May Ensign, pages 98.

Elder Quentin L Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Can Ye Feel So Now?” 182nd Semi-annual General Conference, 6 October 2012    

Goddard, H. W. (2007). Drawing heaven into your marriage: powerful principles with eternal results. Fairfax, VA: Meridian Pub.




[i] President Ezra Taft Benson delivered "Cleansing the Inner VesselApril 1986. And then reiterated and expanded his teachings April 1989 when he requested Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to read “Beware of Pride in his behalf.