Thursday, July 4, 2013

Harry Potter vs. “not good enough” identity crisis - I

            Since I wrote about my experience with vulnerability last week, I have been reading up Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown. While attempting to endure a morning bus ride with horrible summer body odor and ridiculous traffic, I laugh and cry like a maniac as Brené’s brilliant research sheds light and inspiration to change. In speaking of shame, she shares an epic conversation between Harry Potter and Sirius Black explaing a type of identity crisis which a lot of us have experienced as members of the Church.

Harry Potter: This connection between me and Voldemort... what if the reason for it is that I am becoming more like him? I just feel so angry, all the time. What if after everything that I've been through, something's gone wrong inside me? What if I'm becoming bad?

Sirius Black: I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You're not a bad person. You're a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are. 

Don’t we feel that from time to time? Feeling the guilt of imperfection? Feeling inadequate because we still haven’t got to the point where we have no disposition to do evil (Mosiah 5:2)? Feeling so broken, so empty, or not deserve to be loved because of what’s happened in our lives? The truth is that those feelings are very real and simply denying them won’t help. After having numerous conversations about the cause and solution for those feelings, I was called out with the following statement repeatedly, “You will not feel that if you have truly understood and exercised the atonement.”

I remember each of you whom I have listened to, prayed for, and cried with as a friend, a missionary, a YW President, or a R.S President.  Deep down in my heart, I just cannot accept that notion because for a split second, I have shared a very small portion of your pain and demon. That claim not only contradicts the purpose of this life (to experience, to learn which includes mistakes and scars) but also implies misconceptions of the atonement. What the prophets were trying to say and how they dealt with those feelings clearly disprove the presumptuous conclusion.

And yes believe it or not, they too have had those “shoot, I screw up”, “this is too hard” or “I can’t do it” moments even after their conversion or repentance.  My absolute favorite example is Moses’s meltdown (Numbers 11:11). He basically told the Lord (and I paraphrased) that he would rather be dead than taking care of the children of Israel whom he did not give birth to. From the degree of tantrum, I have no problem feeling his fatigue, frustration, and helplessness. In respond, the Lord empathetically sent Moses back to find 70 worthy men to share his responsibility and authority with thus came forth the quorum of the seventy.

No blaming and no challenging, Mose’s feelings were acknowledged and a solution was provided resolving his dilemma. Acknowledging our feeling of inadequacy is the first step to turn the tables. It empowers us to draw on help and solution to change reality.

Stay tuned for part  II on the atonement……


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