While teaching early-morning seminary one day, I was especially frustrated with my seeming inability to reach my students. If only I had Sister Hamlin’s gift of gab or my husband’s warm sense of humor! A few more skills in the entertainment area would certainly be helpful in trying to motivate and keep the attention of 17 teenagers. Something was wrong, and I had no idea what it was.
At home later that day, I decided to listen to a talk tape while I tackled my ironing. I prayed I might choose a tape that would help me know what I needed to do.
I was surprised at the directness with which my prayer was answered. The speaker on the tape mentioned the adverse effects of contention, and I suddenly realized that although I had not even recognized its presence, I was churning inside with resentment toward a student who skillfully counteracted my hours of preparation each day. That subtle, simmering bit of ill will had hardened my heart to the promptings of the Spirit.
I knew from past experience that Heavenly Father can replace anger and hurt with love and understanding if we ask Him earnestly. I therefore pleaded with Him to change my feelings toward this student, and He answered my petition. Rising from my knees overcome with the joy of having a new heart, I could hardly wait to begin preparing my lesson on Ether 12 for class the next morning.
As I read verses 23–24 [Ether 12:23–24] I could picture Moroni expressing his feelings of inadequacy as he translated from the powerful language of the Jaredite records: “Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing. … Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.” How often I too had felt inadequate because I lacked someone else’s obvious gift!
The Lord gave the solution to Moroni’s problem: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
I had never noticed the process in this verse before, but because of the morning’s events, it stood out plainly:
Come unto Christ. I had previously wondered how anyone could consider it a blessing to have a weakness revealed to him or her. As it was, I had always felt painfully aware of mine. But now I realized that my weakness was the very thing I had been seeking to know that morning. I had reached out to say, “What am I doing wrong?” or in essence, “Please show me my weakness.”
I had to come to Christ before He showed me my weakness. And the instruction I received was a blessing. Without the knowledge I was given, I would have continued to have the problem and frustration with no idea as to how to overcome it.
Humble yourself before Christ. Why had I not received an answer to my problem much earlier? Could it have been because I wasn’t humble enough to get the kind of answer I needed? I was trying to improve the situation on my own by using this technique or that: more visual aids, more class involvement, more preparation. But the mornings were no better. Not until I felt the full effect of the principle taught in John 15:4–5 was I humble enough to receive the answer I needed. In these verses the Savior said, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. … Without me ye can do nothing.”
Have faith in Christ. “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). That includes softening hard hearts. The peace and love that came into my heart that day were truly a gift. As well as I knew that I could not overcome my problem alone, I also knew that the Savior is the source of all strength and light.
He will make weak things strong. As we met in seminary the next morning, the Spirit of the Lord was freely felt. The students recognized it and expressed appreciation for what they had learned from Ether 12. The grace of God, that enabling power, had been not only sufficient but ample, and I was reminded of the words of a hymn, “My weakness in mercy he covers with pow’r, and, walking by faith, I am blest ev’ry hour” (“The Lord Is My Light,” Hymns, no. 89).