"If men come unto me [Christ], 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 who humble themselves before me, because if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:27)
Change. It's such an interesting word, isn't it? Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. But it's always good in the end. I, at least, have never passed through a time of change and found that, eventually, I haven't been better for it. Sure, it was hard at first, but perseverance resulted
in a slightly more polished me. I'm still working, of course, because I'll never be perfect in this life as a human being. But I can still improve. Here's an experience on how I did it, so each of you can know at least some basic steps you can follow to make your own improvements, especially in this New Year with all your resolutions. I don't pretend to have all the answers, because I certainly don't. I only hope someone can benefit from me sharing this experience.
At the beginning of my mission, there were a lot of things I realized I would have to change. And I've recognized even more need for change and improvement as time has passed. One of the biggest things I eventually realized I would have to change was my selfishness. It wasn't obvious to me, and maybe not to anyone else, either, because it didn't make me arrogant or overly rude. But it was keeping me from progressing and being my best self. And my companion knew it. She wasn't afraid to be blunt with me. She told me one day, straight up, with all the love she had for me, that I needed to change. That I thought too much about myself and not enough about others and it needed to change. It was hard to accept. I admit I wanted to deny it at first. But then, reflecting, I realized she was right.
That was step one, recognizing and accepting the need for change. Step two was deciding I would do something about it. I refused to sit back and let that weakness hang over me, holding me back. I almost immediately decided I wanted to be better, I wanted to make the necessary change. I wanted to be able to put others first. So, I set the goal. It wasn't a general goal, either. It was very specific. I set the goal that I would think of others' needs before my own, even in the little things like adjusting the air conditioner in the car. And that I would think before I spoke so I wouldn't offend anyone by saying something I thought was funny but that could hurt someone else.
The third and most important step (I think) is that I got down on my knees and pleaded with my Heavenly Father for help, because I knew I couldn't do it alone. And it wasn't just a, "help me please?" Instead, it was a real plea: "I'm not strong enough alone; I need your help. Please help me not to be selfish, to think of others first." Being specific is the key. Even though Heavenly Father knows our needs, He waits for us to ask exactly what we need before He gives it to us so He knows we will appreciate it. And asking for specific help in this goal, nearly every time I prayed, helped me to remember what I was working towards and also who it was that would help me.
Lastly, I worked. I worked hard. And I worked consistently. The change didn't happen overnight. In fact it took weeks before I started to see any improvement, and even now, three months later, I'm still not sure I've really made much progress, even though others have seen a change in me. I still slip up occasionally and I still need my Father's help to stay on the path.But I'm still working, and one day I will have overcome my weakness.
In summary, the four steps to change are 1) Recognize and accept the need for it, either yourself or someone else pointing it out to you; 2) Have the desire to change and decide to act on that desire; 3) PRAY! Plead for Heavenly help, because you can't do it alone, however awesome you may be; and 4) Work. You won't accomplish anything by just sitting around and waiting for it to happen. And then keep working. And don't ever give up. If you stay constant and rely on Heavenly Father, I promise that "weak things will become strong unto [you]."