President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave the talk “You Can Do It Now!” in the Priesthood Session of this past October 2013 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is the Second Counselor in the First Presidency. If you haven’t read or watched the talk or were unable to, I highly suggest that you read or watch it! President Uchtdorf always gives incredible talks, but I was so moved by this talk. Although everything he says is important, I am going to look at five passages that touched my heart:
1. In the section called “The Delusion of Toughness,” President Uchtdorf states, “We may think that women are more likely than men to have feelings of inadequacy and disappointment—that these feelings affect them more than us. I’m not sure that this is true. Men experience feelings of guilt, depression, and failure. We might pretend these feelings don’t bother us, but they do. We can feel so burdened by our failures and shortcomings that we begin to think we will never be able to succeed. We might even assume that because we have fallen before, falling is our destiny. As one writer put it, ‘We beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’”
One reason I love this quote is because President Uchtdorf quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), which is a fabulous book in and of itself. Also, I love how President Uchtdorf talks about men and women. It is imperative to realize that both men and women feel inadequate at times or disappointed about life. These feelings are part of being human – not just because you are a mother with children or a husband who feels he must provide for his family. Every human experiences guilt, failure, and sadness. That’s perfectly normal. However, it is how we, as human beings, respond to these feelings that determines who we will become. I think that sometimes people want to put on a pretense that they are perfect, that they have no shortcomings, no flaws, no emotions. This façade is harmful. It’s okay to be down sometimes. But it’s also necessary to learn from these emotions. We learn from our past but live in the present and look to the future. We must learn to hope.
2. “And thus, they go on, living only a shadow of the life they could have led, never rising to the potential that is their birthright. As the poet lamented, these are among those unfortunate souls who ‘die with [most of] their music [still] in them.’”
President Uchtdorf quotes “The Voiceless,” in The Complete Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes (1908). It’s a beautiful and powerful line. I love how he describes “a shadow of life they could have led.” A shadow bears the likeness or the outline of the thing it follows, yet it is not quite the same and misses the main important aspects the person or object it is shadowing. For example, if there is a shadow of a tree and we could only see that, we would only see grey lines and blobs or maybe sometimes it would move. We would be missing out by looking at the ground and not to looking up to see the shimmering leaves gently waving in the wind or the various colors of green or the great, deep brown bark, rough and worn. We would be missing something vital to understanding what a tree is. I think that is the same thing with people. Most humans (unless there is some sort of accident or other issue) have two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, two hands, two legs, two feet, etc., etc., etc. But there is a lot more to a person than mere physiological aspects. Shadows, especially psychological shadows, such as depression or doubt or hopelessness, can mask human potential, which is not a physical aspect that could be seen. This potential mentioned is what we do with our talents that impact our lives and the lives of those around us.
3. In the section titled “Godly Sorrow,” President Uchtdorf states, “Godly sorrow leads to conversion and a change of heart. It causes us to hate sin and love goodness. It encourages us to stand up and walk in the light of Christ’s love. True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment. Yes, heartfelt regret and true remorse for disobedience are often painful and very important steps in the sacred process of repentance. But when guilt leads to self-loathing or prevents us from rising up again, it is impeding rather than promoting our repentance.”
This passage is beautiful and so simple to understand. When we feel godly sorrow, or a deep desire to change and become a better person, as opposed to worldly sorrow that is temporary and fleeting, we gain a desire to change our hearts. Godly sorrow truly can lead to personal conversion. Guilt that creates self-loathing is not good because it prevents instead of promotes true repentance or change.
4. “We have a champion, a Savior, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death on our behalf. He gave Himself as a ransom for our sins. No one has ever had greater love than this—Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish, willingly laid Himself on the altar of sacrifice and paid the price for our sins to ‘the uttermost farthing.’ He took upon Himself our suffering. He took our burdens, our guilt upon His shoulders. My dear friends, when we decide to come to Him, when we take upon ourselves His name and boldly walk in the path of discipleship, then through the Atonement we are promised not only happiness and ‘peace in this world’ but also ‘eternal life in the world to come.’”
We must choose whether we will come unto Christ.
We must choose whether we will take upon His name.
We must choose whether we will become a disciple.
We must choose.
5. In the section “Who Are You?,” President Uchtdorf explains, “Satan’s purpose is to tempt us to exchange the priceless pearls of true happiness and eternal values for a fake plastic trinket that is merely an illusion and counterfeit of happiness and joy. Another method the adversary uses to discourage us from rising up is to make us see the commandments as things that have been forced upon us. I suppose it is human nature to resist anything that does not appear to be our own idea in the first place. If we see healthy eating and exercise as something only our doctor expects of us, we will likely fail. If we see these choices as who we are and who we want to become, we have a greater chance of staying the course and succeeding.”
I love how he writes “the priceless pearls of true happiness.” The comparison of pearls versus fake plastic trinkets is just beautiful.
We must decide our own choices because that will determine who we will become. I love his promise that if we make our own choices and take it upon ourselves to carry out those decisions, we will have a greater chance of achieving our goals. That is a remarkable promise.
Do you want to be happy?
Then you must change.
And you can do it now…