I used to be an incredible dancer. I could walk out onto any dance floor at any church dance, grab any girl by the hand and twirl her around the floor for the rest of the night if I wanted to. I was so good that when girls asked me if I knew how to dance I told them I had forgotten more about dancing than most people ever bother to learn. That’s how good I was!
That is until the night I met the woman I eventually chose to marry. Oh, I used that same line on her when she came and asked me to dance alright, but little did I know in that moment I was speaking to a woman who had not only been dancing regularly for many years but one who had taken and taught many dance courses in that time as well. It turns out she was not “most people” and I had forgotten so much about dancing that our first dance was the most embarrassing of my life. I slunk away defeated and embarrassed, assuming she would likely never want to dance with me again. Fortunately for me with a little divine intervention she allowed me to redeem myself the next night and I had the most transformative dance experience of my life which ultimately led to our eternal union in the temple of God.
Just like me and my dance skills, a sad truth of life is that most of us spend great portions of our lives completely oblivious to our rust and how immense and obvious it truly is. It takes moments of colossal impact – such as boasting about how good you are to someone who is way better and way more humble than you are – before we can wake up and be made aware of just how bad – just how rusty – we truly are. Unfortunately even then we can sometimes miss it.
In his great treatise on charity, Paul describes us this way:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Another interpretation of “glass” is “mirror” and the alternative Greek translation of “darkly” is “obscurely, enigmatically.” So Paul is trying to help us understand that in our present state of mortality we cannot see ourselves clearly. Our mirror image of ourselves is obscured to us so much that we cannot perfectly recognize who and what we are when we see ourselves. It will only be in the existence to come that we will be able to see ourselves – and everyone else – exactly as we presently exist. And so we need someone else to help us see ourselves clearly.
We have essentially two places to look when looking for someone to show us who we are. The first is the people around us. Certainly they have windows into our behavior and who we are that are important for us to know and consider as we strive to improve and progress. But the Savior said of them:
“[W]hy beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
In other words, because they too are seeing “through a glass darkly,” we can only trust their perspectives so far. There is only one way to know exactly just how rusty we are and what we need to in order to clean up and be made whole again. King Benjamin said:
“And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:17)
The only person to whom we can turn to show us clearly who we are and exactly where and how bad our rust is and how to repair it is Jesus Christ. And – without wanting to sound like a broken record – He has said:
“[I]f men come unto me 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 that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27)
As we continue on our course looking for the rusty areas of our lives which we need to address, may we first turn to Jesus Christ to see ourselves clearly – to see where our weakness is – instead of waiting for a big calamitous event – like boasting to your future wife about how good of a dancer you are – to abruptly and painfully show us just how rusty we truly are.