|We are temples, and as such, are trying to perfect ourselves.|
So often we know the things we should do. We know we need to read our scriptures, go to church, follow the commandments, etc, but what is holding us back from making that one major change (maybe multiple)? We could chalk it up to laziness, or even lack of desire, but I have come to understand that the reason we disobey is a lack of understanding. We can come up with a million excuses not to do something, but at the basic heart of the matter we don't understand why we need to do it. Maybe we understand it on an intellectual level, but the understanding I'm talking about is quite different. We may understand a commandment with our head, but still lack the understanding in our heart.
It may seem like the next part of what I will talk about is a complete subject change, but ultimately changing our behavior deals with both understanding and desires.
I have dedicated a lot of my personal studies to learn about desires, which make us who we are. If we evaluate our desires, we will recognize there are different levels. We can have desires that are our ultimate ones: to have an eternal family, to be good people, etc, but these desires are very often overruled with out immediate ones: to yield to temptation (whatever our own temptation may be). So how do we change our desires? How do we figure out how to overcome those immediate desires? Now, what I'm about to say may seem pretty easy, but it does take constant and continual effort in the application. We may stumble and fall multiple times, but during those times it is important to remember we are like children learning to walk. Every time we fall, we learn, and the only determining factor is whether we get back up. The faster we get back up, the faster we overcome whatever we struggle with.
We change our desires, and eventually the understanding is written upon our hearts, as we study and come to understand doctrine.
Now it is important that we understand what DOCTRINE is. In the church, we focus a lot on APPLICATION, and that will not really help anyone to change. For example, the law of chastity is greatly misunderstood. Between the following statements which is the doctrine of the law of chastity?
a) we need to be clean and pure in thought, deed, and action so that we can return worthy to the presence of our Father
b) not having sex before marriage, not viewing, reading, or listening to anything inappropriate (porn, graphic novels, etc)
c) using our desires, appetites, and passions within the bounds the Lord has set
Choose your answer!
Just kidding, it doesn't bother me whether or not you chose.
If you said "A" you would be correct! The doctrine of the law of chastity is the "why" we do something. Until recently I thought that the doctrine was "C" but that is a principle of the law and "B" is an application. I hadn't read Teach Them to Understand in a while by Elder Bednar, and doing so helping me to switch the principle and doctrinal understanding.
Now, regarding the desire to be obedient and change the understanding we have about the why (or the doctrine) I would suggest the talk The Will of the Father in All Things by Elder Holland. After that talk, I would suggest Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments by Elder Holland if your temptation regards the law of chastity. Even if you have read the talks before, I would invite you to do so again and focus on understanding both the principle and the doctrine.
I can't imagine the struggle you must be going through, whether big or small, but I know that we were created to have joy. We are not meant to suffer, but we are meant to go through trials. We will come to experience joy in our trials if those trials do not come through our disobedience. My heart goes out to all those who feel like they are trapped in a hole and can't get out. The Lord extends his hands, but we must put forth the effort to grab those hands and wrench ourselves from misery. Wickedness never was happiness. I promise as you ponder and study with real intent to change, you will find joy in and see clearly your progression and comprehension. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know we all need to progress, but there is no reason we can't do it together!