Today in Sunday School we were discussing a few chapters in the Book of Mormon. They describe the missionary visit of Alma and Amulek to the apostate Zoramites, who had separated themselves from the rest of the Church and set up new worship rituals meant to aggrandize themselves above others. As Alma was teaching, he was approached by a group of people who were poor and had been forbidden from worshipping because their clothing and outward appearance did not fit the standards of the ruling class. As we went through the chapters that described what Alma and Amulek taught them, I realized that what Alma was primarily trying to get them to do was to change their self-theory, or the way they viewed themselves and their place in the worship process. The scriptures describe this group as being 'poor in spirit', which can be a good thing when it equates to being humble and teachable. However, they were also 'poor in spirit' because they had a poor idea of their spiritual agency. They tell Alma that they cannot worship God because they have not been allowed to. However, Alma tells them that they can. He describes a number of actions that they can take: first, he describes faith as action by comparing it to the planting of a seed and the cultivation of the resulting plant; then, he describes the importance of constant prayer, in any place or circumstance; then he talks about the importance of scripture study; finally, he shares the story of Moses and the brass serpent to underscore the importance of 'looking up' to God. Amulek finishes their preaching by bearing testimony of the coming of Christ, who is the reason why they need to have active faith (unlike the hollow prayers of the Zoramites, whose function is only self-promotion).
That was just a thought I had in Sunday school today, which ties into some of the things I've been thinking about lately when it comes to our perception of our selves. I already shared some thoughts about praise several years earlier, and I have a friend who is doing research on learning and the role that self-theories play in our ability to learn. Of course, I still need to put some of these ideas into action more in my life, but I really am trying to reframe myself as someone who tries, someone who does, and someone who is willing to keep working every day to be a little better.