Oftentimes I struggle to find enough self-esteem to fill a thimble. It is by far my biggest challenge. I look at various aspects of my life – everything from appearance to filling my roles as wife, mother, teacher, church member and citizen – and one phrase just seems to sum it all up: Not Good Enough. Perhaps you know the feeling. I am well aware that doubt and uncertainty are tools of the adversary, but having that knowledge doesn’t mean they are easy to overcome.
Doubt is such a powerful tool that Satan tried to use it to thwart one of the greatest events in history. We read in Joseph Smith-History about the dark moments immediately preceding the First Vision: “Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction” (JS-H 1:15). In another account of this event, we learn even more about the negative influence on the future prophet. “The adversary made several strenuous attempts to cool the passion of [my] soul. He clouded [my] mind with doubts and brought to [my] mind all sorts of improper images to prevent [me] from attaining the object of [my] endeavors…” (emphasis added)
Joseph Smith did not succumb to those doubts and neither can we. Remember why doubt comes. This account is a great illustration of a simple truth: Satan attacks what is good. Though the heavens may not be opening to usher in the restoration in our lives, the principle is the same. When we are striving to do good, live righteously, and fulfill our eternal purpose, Satan will try to derail our efforts. He knows that he can’t generally do it in the more obvious ways, so he has to subtly pick away at an individual in every way he knows how. I don’t struggle with temptations to steal, murder, commit adultery or anything like that, but I do struggle significantly with being distracted by doubts and allowing those doubts to reduce my effectiveness.
In order to stay on track and push the doubts out of my life, I rely on my feisty German side to take over and focus on another lesson learned from the First Vision. Joseph Smith said, “It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?” (JS-H 1:20, emphasis added)
A disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom.
I have always been drawn to that phrase and consider it a personal aspiration. I also want to be a disturber and an annoyer of the adversary’s kingdom. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that Satan doesn’t win a single battle within my sphere of influence. I want to actively work for the Savior and build his kingdom in any way I can. We have to choose a side; there is no place in the Kingdom of God for fence-sitters. One of my favorite quotes is from Elder John A. Widtsoe: “The troubles of the world may largely be laid at the doors of those who are neither hot nor cold; who always follow the line of least resistance; whose timid hearts flutter at taking sides for truth. As in the great Council in the heavens, so in the Church of Christ on earth, there can be no neutrality. We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord” (April 1941 General Conference).
Being on the side of the Lord comes with opposition. We need to recognize when the adversary is trying to render us ineffective and then press forward in righteous endeavors regardless of that opposition. The Prophet Joseph set a great example for all of us. From the time he knelt in that grove of trees until the time of his death, he faced tremendous resistance and hostility but stayed on an undeviating course of righteous accomplishment. We can and must do the same because we are each helping to continue the work he started.
Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28 states, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” When doubt and uncertainty start to get you down, remember whose side you are on and why those feelings creep in. Don’t let the adversary win. Be a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom by following the counsel given in this scripture. Find your good cause and bring to pass much righteousness in your sphere of influence. Doing so will allow us to feel God’s love and the assurance that we are always good enough for him as we serve him and keep his commandments.