Latter-day Saint Life

How We Can Stop Rationalizing Our Resolutions Away

And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
--Mark 14:72
“My heart goes out to Peter. So many of us are so much like him. We pledge our loyalty; we affirm our determination to be of good courage; we declare, sometimes even publicly, that come what may we will do the right thing, that we will stand for the right cause, that we will be true to ourselves and to others.
"Then the pressures begin to build. Sometimes these are social pressures. Sometimes they are personal appetites. Sometimes they are false ambitions. There is a weakening of the will. There is a softening of discipline. There is capitulation. And then there is remorse, followed by self-accusation and bitter tears of regret.”
–Gordon B. Hinckley

That’s one of my favorite quotes from President Hinckley. The example of Peter in this instance really hits me, because I tend to be a victim of “Sunday resolutions,” those bold declarations that are so easy to make and so difficult to live up to.

Basically, any time I’m at church feeling the Spirit, I go into self-improvement mode. “I’m going to do X, Y, and Z this week, and not just as one-offs either…I’m going to develop a habit of doing all these healthy/righteous/happy things.” I even have a secret Twitter feed where I collect all the goals and resolutions I set for myself in church.

In the moment, they seem like good goals: Generally achievable, not too onerous, but with a meaningful impact on my life and my happiness. Of course, they come in moments of spiritual high, when anything seems possible. I can overcome anything, achieve anything!

So can Peter. It’s easy to proclaim that he’ll never betray Jesus—the Savior is walking and talking with him. It’s even easy to pledge to defend him, and even chop a dude’s ear off to prove it. Perhaps he would’ve fought to the death for his Lord that night.

And yet. And yet.

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