It is easy to be hard on ourselves. When we feel God’s approval, anxiety can be replaced by confidence.
When the Lord directed Lehi to take his family into the wilderness, He prefaced the commandment with the following words of reassurance:
Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done.1 Nephi 2:1
After Alma was rejected and kicked out of the city of Ammonihah, the angel who appeared to him provided the following words of encouragement:
Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God.Alma 8:15
And when the prophet Nephi was ignored by his unbelieving neighbors, the Lord said to him:
Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people.Helaman 10:4
All three of these prophets were experiencing difficult challenges. How comforting and empowering it must have been to hear God’s words of approval at such a time!
In April 1830, just after the church was organized, Joseph Smith received a series of revelations directed to family members and close associates. I’m struck by the repeated words of reassurance in those revelations. The revelation to Oliver Cowdery begins this way: “Behold thou art blessed, and art under no condemnation” (Doctrine and Covenants 23:1). Then, to Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, and Joseph Smith, Sr., the Lord said, “Thou also art under no condemnation” (Doctrine and Covenants 23:3-5). As members of a newly organized church who had experienced and would yet experience significant persecution for their beliefs, this reassurance must have bolstered their confidence and their determination.
Elder J. Devn Cornish gave the following warning to us about excessive self-criticism:
Sometimes when we attend church, we become discouraged even by sincere invitations to improve ourselves. We think silently, “I can’t do all these things” or “I will never be as good as all these people….”
Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.“Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?” General Conference, October 2016
Today, I will seek feedback and guidance from God, and will avoid judging myself harshly. I will remember that, as long as I continue to repent and strive to follow my Heavenly Father, I am under no condemnation, and I will be blessed.