We all know the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have done to you. But how much do we really practice it?
We all have a self image, or way we see ourselves, and a self ideal, or who we want to be. Self esteem results when our self image matches our self ideal. The greater the match, the greater the sense of self esteem.
But there’s a catch. Because it’s a perception, our self image doesn’t necessarily represent reality. Often it doesn’t. It’s easy to think we’re one way when we’re actually another. Confronting truth often reveals the mismatch — we aren’t what we thought we were — which creates a crisis of self-esteem.
We can resolve the crisis by changing our self ideal to match our deficient self image (i.e. lowering our standards) or our self image to match our self ideal (i.e. living up to our standards). When we recognize a gap between who we actually are and who we want to be, Christ can change us so we live up to our standards. And it turns out living by the Golden Rule is one of the best ways to bridge that gap.
Lately I’ve been struggling with belonging to my ward. I’ve encountered hard time after hard time without the support I need. Why belong to a community that doesn’t seem to care?
The scriptures say we meet together often to support one another and to receive the sacrament (see Moroni 6:5-6). That answer satisfies me less and less with each instance of neglect by my ward.
Many LDS singles face similar questions in their own wards. Unfortunately, too many respond by leaving the safety of the Church. I can understand that. It’s really hard to keep holding on to something that doesn’t seem to be working, especially when you don’t seem to fit in with the others in the group.
I still hold on because the restored gospel is true regardless of how my life turns out. How my life turns out has more to do with choices I and others make. That’s independent of the truth of the restored gospel.
And now, after almost four years of holding on, I finally had a visit from my home teacher. Apparently out of guilt for neglecting me, my quorum president assigned himself to be my home teacher. Will he be a real home teacher and support me? Or will he simply check in once a month to do his duty? Time will tell.
It’s good to have someone finally visiting me, though. At least, I felt good until he called me to repentance for skipping priesthood meeting. My mother has difficulty sitting in church with her medical conditions, so I often drive her home after sacrament meeting. Why then go back, especially if I don’t feel the support I need from my ward?
Pondering my home teacher’s invitation to return, however, I couldn’t justify my continued absence. I also observed how it began slowly and eventually grew into complete absence.
I’ve always considered myself active LDS. Yet I had to accept the truth embodied in my home teacher’s invitation when faced with it. My self image wasn’t based in reality and was far from my self ideal. I knew the right response — change my actions so I meet that ideal.
This experience led me to examine other areas of my life. Do I see myself differently than who my actions prove I really am? It’s no surprise I do; I’ve always claimed to be a walking construction zone. But the particulars did surprise me.
I’ve always thought of myself as being a very forgiving and understanding person. Yet it’s clear I haven’t forgiven my ward for their failure to support me. My mind keeps replaying memories of being abandoned to face my difficulties alone. Clearly my actions show me as someone I thought I wasn’t. Again, my self image doesn’t represent reality.
I want others to forgive me when I offend them, so I should forgive them. That’s the Golden Rule. That’s also hard when those who offend continue to offend. But I know I’ll be stronger for living the Golden Rule. And I know my Savior has the power to help me do it.
How many LDS singles carry the same grudge in their hearts? How many think they live one way when their actions witness something different? And if that describe you, what will you do about it?
Lowering our standards to match our behavior never brings true joy in living. That joy is found only when we change our behavior to match the standard. Living the Golden Rule helps us do that. And when we do, we’ll have more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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