On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
We can't fully overcome these habits and impacted tendencies by ourselves. Our own resolves, our own will, our own effort - all this is necessary but is not sufficent. We need the transforming power of the Savior, born of faith in him and his atoning sacrifice and of entering into a contract with him. In such a contract, made in ordinance work and in private prayer, we covenant, or promise, or witness to take upon ourselves his name and to keep his commandments. He, in turn, promises us to give us his spirit, which, if we are true to our promises, will renew and strengthen and transform us. In this way we combine our power with the power of the Almighty.
Before we renew our covenants in the sacrament, before we promise or resolve to overcome a bad habit and establish a new one, we should sit down first and count the cost.
If we realistically count the costs and then make a deep enough commitment, we, with the Lord's help, can overcome the gravity pull of habits and atmospheric resistance of our environment with all its luring temptations.
How can we break bad habits and form healthy new ones? The Savior gives us insight into the process in the following magnificent parable.
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
"Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
"Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish."
(Luke 14: 28-30)
Most of us are great starters and poor finishers. We begin to "mock" at ourselves, to lose faith in our ability to keep the promises we make with ourselves.
We simply to do not sit down first and count the cost to see if we have sufficent to finish - sufficent desire, sufficient internal thrust. We try to lift off our launching pad without realistically calculating the "g's" (gravity pull) and the resistance of the atmosphere (our environment).
Many are sorely tried and tempted before their baptism, thinking such temptations will cease once they have been baptized. From my observation, this is not the case. The temptations often increase, although they may change in character. The greater the growth, the more subtle the temptation.
Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings and blood of their ancestors; and capable, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence…Republics are created by the virture, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them.
"We have raised the bar," says Elder Ballard. "But that doesn't raise it just for the youth. That raises it for the parents, who have the primary responsibility for teaching their children principles. That raises it for the leaders. That raises it for the teachers. We've all got to take a step up in a world that is unraveling as fast as this one is.
A horse is stronger than a man, so the man bridles it, thus controlling its power and using that power for good. Passions are stronger than we are, so we bridle them, thus controlling their power...
One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others. A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended—and to say with Pahoran, "it mattereth not."