"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
January 7, 2015
Seeing Ourselves Truly
by Kathryn Grant

We humans tend to fall into two opposite errors: sometimes we overestimate our strengths and abilities, and other times we underestimate them.

Once I volunteered for some programming work on a technical project. I had done apparently similar work before and felt I was qualified. After all, how hard could it be? But after I got into the project and started working with other more experienced programmers, it became obvious that my skills were on a novice level compared to what was needed.

Another time I was contemplating a career change from technical support to technical writing. I had done some tech writing in my support job, but I had no formal training and frankly doubted my skills and ability. In fact, I wondered if I were foolish even to consider the change.

Fortunately, the Lord guided me to the right job. I discovered, a little to my amazement, that I was able to do the work, and my employers seemed to feel I was doing it well.

I suspect most of us have had similar experiences, both overestimating and underestimating ourselves. So what’s the problem? Why do we often have such a hard time accurately assessing ourselves and our abilities?

Very simply, because we’re human. We’re not omniscient. Often we’re blind to what we don’t know. But sometimes we’re also blind to what we do know! In other words, we may actually have understanding and abilities that we don’t realize that we have. Either blind spot can have serious consequences.

For instance, when I overestimated my abilities and took on work I wasn’t qualified to do, I put the project at risk. Could I have gained the skills? Sure, in time. But not in time for that project.

On the other hand, what if I had let my lack of confidence keep me from making the career change into technical writing? I would have missed opportunities to use my skills and to grow, not to mention associations with wonderful people I’ve met through my work.

So how can we see ourselves truly when we’re looking “through a glass, darkly,” knowing only “in part”? (1 Corinthians 13:12.) We need to rely on Someone with perfect sight, Someone who sees “things as they really are.” (Jacob 4:13.)

The Lord said, “And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weaknesses.” (Ether 12:27.) Likewise, I’ve found that He will also help us discover our strengths. In other words, we need to rely on the Lord to have an accurate understanding of both our weaknesses and strengths, and He gives us that understanding in the process of coming unto Him.

Ether 12:27 calls out two key qualities we need in the process of coming fully to Christ and removing our blind spots: faith in Christ and humility. Both enable us to accept the Lord’s view of ourselves instead of our own, whether He tells us we have weaknesses or strengths we weren’t previously aware of. It may seem strange to think of humility as a prerequisite to accepting our strengths, but if we refuse to accept and use the talents the Lord tells us we have, wouldn’t that be a form of pride?

One day, we will know ourselves as we are known. (1 Corinthians 13:12.) But until that day comes, we “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” (2 Nephi 31:20), trusting in His perfect love and perfect ability to help us see ourselves as we really are.

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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