I have a new favorite way of doing things. I call it the "as if" principle. Once, when I was a lot younger, I really wanted to know if the church was true. We read in seminary from D & C 42:61 that says:
"If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things - that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal".
I thought that was a great scripture. My life had been rather difficult up to that time, and I decided that I needed to know if the church was true. If it was, then the way my parents treated me wouldn't matter, but if it were not true, then I needed to try to keep peace in my family.
I went out in the desert and prayed. I waited. Nothing happened. I decided that my Heavenly Father really must not love me, or else He was too busy to be bothered with me because I just wasn't good enough. So, the next day, I went to seminary to tell my teacher that I would not be coming anymore. It must not be true because I did not get an answer. Brother Reed stopped me and asked me to stay and listen to what he had to say.
We went back to the Doctrine and Covenants section 9:7-9. It states:
"Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it our in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. but if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong;"
I read that scripture and it made so much sense to me. I could see how I was like that. I just asked and expected Him to answer me. I really didn't try very hard or put any extra effort into finding out for myself. I needed to study it our in my mind and my heart first, and then ask if it was right. I went home and started reading. It took me four months, but I read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. This is the time of my life when the "as if" principle became part of my very makeup.
As I was reading in the scriptures one day, I realized that it was not enough to say that I wanted to believe in the scriptures. I was given the impression that I needed to live my life "as if" I believed. I needed to live "as if" I was a righteous daughter of God. In short, I needed to change from someone who followed the easy way, to someone who tried to live the way the scriptures and the Prophet taught. I went through all my clothes and discovered that I only had one dress that fit the standards of the church. I got rid of everything else. I only had two pair of pants and a few shirts that followed the teachings of modesty. I gave away everything that did not fit.
I started living the gospel. I quit drinking tea (this was the only drink always available in the fridge) and turned to water. I opened and closed every day with a personal prayer. I tried to become more like those whom I admired as righteous women. After I finished reading the Book of Mormon, I went out into the desert and prayed. This time, I received an answer that I have never forgotten. I won't say that I saw a vision, because I did not. But I knew with every fiber of my being that the Church was true. I have never doubted since. I can't forget the way my heart burned and the absolute feeling of rightness that filled me. I don't always make the right choices. (I am not perfect yet, or anywhere close to it). But I have never denied my testimony of the gospel.
Now I try to act "as if" I am living the correct principles and as I do so, I have noticed that things get a little easier when I am consistent with that teaching. Imagine for a moment how much easier it is to love and care for others when you act "as if" they have divine nature, or when you act "as if" they are kind. I have also found, that if you treat someone for long enough "as if" they have those attributes, they tend to at least start to develop them, and so do you. Imagine how much impact you can have on your family by treating them "as if". I have seen it happen. I know it works. Just give it a try, but remember, in your challenge, you cannot be sarcastic, even to yourself. You can not snicker behind their backs. You can not think that you will never make it. You have to force yourself to believe that it is possible and act "as if" you are already there.
My challenge to you is to work on changing yourself by believing and seeing those things in you that are most like your Heavenly Father. What does He see when He looks at you?
Act "as if" you have divine nature.
Act "as if" you have faith.
Act "as if" you have integrity
Act "as if" you have individual worth.
Act "as if" you have knowledge.
Act "as if" you have good works.
Act "as if" you have choice and accountability.
Act "as if" you have virtue.
Can you see how much you can change yourself just by acting "as if"? Try it! I have and I promise that it works. You can be the person that your Father in Heaven knows you are!