Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tameing Vanity & Letting Your Light Shine

I don't know what comes to your mind immediately with the word vanity, but for me it conjures up a woman looking in the mirror, much like Snow White's wicked step mother. Consumed by vanity, she wasn't content on being fair, she wanted to be "fairest of them all" and would be, no matter the cost.
The word vanity also recalls for me an instance of extreme dissatisfaction with my appearance, in which occasion, my grandma thought I was vain. "I'm not vain!" I thought to myself. "If anything, I'm the opposite of vain!" I have since gained a greater understanding of the concept of vanity. In my youth, I suffered with low self esteem and a scab ridden face, and I obsessed about my appearance. I was constantly trying to hide my scabs with makeup and would sometimes stay away from social events because I couldn't be seen in my current state. I know it affected my behavior greatly.
I would define vanity as an esteem produced from physical appearance which hinders your beneficial affect (taking into account people can be vain about fame which is intangible). Whether your effect is diminished because you are haughty or hiding, it is all vanity.
I taught a primary class in my last ward (A ward is a locality based division of church members). In this primary class was a girl for whom I will always have a special place in my heart. She was quite honest and she tested my vanity. The last lesson I gave to this class was about letting your light shine. I love teaching, it helps me evaluate my weakness and become better. This lesson made me think a lot. "What is hindering me from letting my light shine? How can I make my light like a city on a hill?" (Matt 5:15)
The answers came.
1. I realized that I had been trying to be a "Hot mom". I laugh about it now. I decided after much thought that my goal instead should be "Approachable", which I considered to be between "Let Go" and "Hot Mom". It took my focus from what the world expected and liked to what is appropriate and good in my eyes.
2. I could also find more opportunities to shine by getting out of the house (which would then create opportunities for friendship).
3. Also, keeping my house in visitable order would make it supportive to the cause.
4. Lastly, I could make my light brighter by becoming true (being true is a whole other posting). So, it seems to me that letting your light shine tames vanity.
Also, to note, that Vanity originates from the perceived judgement of society, and your light originates from Christ). (Doctrine & Covenants 88: 6-13, 3 Nephi 18:24)

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