For now I see through a glass darkly, but (soon) shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12).
I’m intentionally trying to lose weight. I say “intentionally,” because this is more than trying to exercise will power to say “No” to a doughnut at work, or stop at 7-11 on my way to work and grab a blueberry muffin (they’re so delicious and soft and yummy!). I’m actually tracking my weight, and doing a whole program-thingy. You know, meal-replacement shakes and everything.
The other day, my stomach growled and I smiled because I felt completely in control of myself. Sure, I was hungry, but it was deliberate, and for a good purpose, and I am stronger than any hunger pang! The hungry feeling made me feel skinny, and that felt nice too! Feeling intentionally hungry was way better than just starving-neglected-hungry. I felt powerful and in control.
Then I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window and was jerked back to reality like a lead balloon. I wasn’t skinny after all! I was still chubby, bloated me. It was disheartening to see the huge chasm between what I felt I looked like, and what I really looked like.
We See through a Glass, Darkly
It was like looking in a dark mirror. It was warped, and had bad lighting, and I couldn’t see myself clearly. Or rather, I could see myself just fine, but the reflection didn’t match the person I know I am or can be. It didn’t match the potential of the real me.
Reaching that potential – the future version of me – is not something I can get to by myself. I need tracking tools, healthy ingredients for good meals, and encouragement that I’m on the right track. Not to be too obvious in this analogy, but let’s put some gospel parallels next to those things.
Regular check ins with Father to see what course corrections I need to make.
Scripture study. This means a healthy feast or steady diet of them, not bingeing. Take the words of them in digestible portions, steadily.
Good friends know that I’m actively working toward better health. They cheer me on, and tell me when they notice progress. Spiritually speaking, the Holy Ghost does this for me in my efforts to reach my divine potential. President Faust said, “Often we do not have even a glimpse of our potential for happiness and accomplishment in this life and in eternity. But the lens can be lightened and become crystal clear through the influence of the Holy Ghost. We must recognize that our natural gifts and abilities are limited, but when augmented by inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost, our potential increases manyfold.” (April 2002, “It Can’t Happen to Me.“)
Just as looking in a darkened mirror distorts my reflection, and self-perception, so does trying to rely solely on myself for accurate information about my eternal potential. To reach any potential, it is necessary to use reliable “mirrors,” of the type that show us our eternal selves.
The most reliable mirror is the one Jesus holds up to us. When He holds our mirror, the reflection looking back is not just our own, but is combined with His attributes.
The verse just before Paul’s famous “for now we see through a glass, darkly,” speaks of our potential to reach something greater than we are on our own. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child,” he tells us. The more “adult” version of behavior is to fashion our lives after Jesus’ example, and let charity be our motivation in all things. In fact, all the other verses preceding that one are Paul’s descriptions of what charity is, what it looks like, and how a person with that gift behaves.
And just as we cannot achieve charity on our own but must “pray to the Father with all energy of heart” to obtain it, so we need the Savior’s help to reach our greatest, divine potential.
Our Divine Potential
With His help, then, the mirror that was previously darkened and obscured becomes clear and polished. Then when we look into it, it is “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” and we find we “are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
As our inward parts change through the influence of the Spirit, our outer parts do too, until we perfectly reflect the image of the Savior in our own countenances. “The process of sanctification not only cleanses us, but it also endows us with needed spiritual gifts or divine attributes of the Savior and changes our very nature.” (Brian K. Ashton, “The Doctrine of Christ,” October 2016.)
“We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him…” (1 John 3:2)
We have the potential to become like Him because our DNA runs through our veins. As His literal daughters (and sons), we not only have the potential to become like Them (Father, Mother, and Jesus), we have a holy obligation to do so.
So the next time you hold that mirror up, think about who you are becoming, not just who you are.