Self-awareness is incredibly elusive.
After describing the spiritual gift of charity, the apostle Paul observed, “We see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The Greek word translated “glass” in this passage, esoptron (ἔσοπτρον), actually means a mirror, and a mirror made of metal, not of glass. These mirrors produced an image that was helpful but hazy, so the viewer had only a partial idea what they looked like.
But Paul anticipated a time when we would see more clearly: “Now I know in part,” he said; ” but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
God can help us see everything more clearly, especially ourselves. As we grow closer to Him, we understand ourselves better, which in turn empowers us to become better. The Lord gave Moroni the following promise:
If men [and women] come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.Ether 12:27
How is that useful? It’s actually essential if our objective is self-improvement and personal progress. The first step to becoming better than you are today is understanding who you are today.
As Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon learned in a vision in 1832, a fundamental characteristic of exalted people is that they “see as they are seen and know as they are known” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:94).
Of course, seeing ourselves more clearly includes recognizing not only our weaknesses but also our strengths. Julene Butler, a former librarian at Brigham Young University, received a patriarchal blessing which listed some of her gifts and talents. Then, the blessing added she had “other gifts which [she would] discover and enjoy.” She said:
I have always been conscious of the fact that I must discover those gifts that are uniquely mine. I believe each of us has a similar quest and that as we pursue it, we are better able to define ourselves and we become more fully prepared for the journey Heavenly Father would have us follow.“To See as We Are Seen,” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 9 June 1998
Elder Neal A. Maxwell suggested that good friends can be like “outside auditors” who help us understand our true net worth. “Most of us are dishonest bookkeepers,” he said, and need other people who can be more objective in their evaluation of us. (See “Notwithstanding My Weakness,” General Conference, October 1976 and “Insights from My Life,” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 26 October 1976.)
Today, I will strive to see myself more clearly. I will seek the help of the Lord and of close friends to better understand both my weaknesses and my strengths, so that I can serve more effectively and better understand how to improve.