Have you ever burnt a pan of brownies? If you have then you know that the brownies become hard as a rock. They could even be used as a weapon for self-defense if the time arose. I’ve had my fair share of situations with burnt brownies. One was when I was at my high school cheerleading practice. My best friend bought a brownie to support a fundraiser, but had no intention of eating it. Instead her and I decided to toss it back and forth to one another while we wait for beginning stretches to start. It shouldn’t have been as much as fun as it was for two older high school girls, but we were having a blast! Soon, we were having so much fun that we became careless. Next thing I knew the brownie hit dead in the eye! I fell to the ground in pain while my friend fell to the ground in laughter. I hadn’t realized that the brownie was so burnt that it was a small brick. I had to dawn a trendy black eye and a slightly bruised nose for next couple of weeks. The injuries weren’t half as painful as telling people I got beat up by a brownie…
Luckily now, I can look back on that unfortunate event and laugh until tears fall, but since then I learned how much brownies can teach me about pride and humility.
Last October I was assigned to teach my Church’s women’s group (also known as Relief Society) a lesson on pride. Like most people, I struggle with pride. We are taught in James 4:10:
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord…”
We are even warned in Alma 38:11:
“See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.”
I could go on and on with examples from the scriptures that warn us about pride and yet we are all are prideful to some extent. With that being said, how was I suppose to teach about pride without being or seeming prideful? I prayed and prayed for ideas that could help me teach my sisters about the adverse effects pride has on our spirituality, families, and other relationships. The only thought that kept recurring when I pondered and prayed about the upcoming lesson was, well… brownies. What a strange thought to have when thinking about a lesson on pride! Regardless, I felt the constant thought about brownies was from the Lord and I needed to delve into my baking skills to figure out what He wanted me to learn and to teach.
Lucky for me I worked at a cookie store that also sold brownies, so I had a lot of opportunities to understand (and eat) them. I realized that when brownies are baked at the right temperature for the right amount of time they are soft and perfect. If they are baked at a low temperature for a short amount of time they stay soupy and messy. And, of course, if they are baked at a high temperature for a long period of time they are chocolate bricks (as experienced by my face).
Soon an idea was brewing in my thinking cap. What if the brownies symbolized people’s spirits or spirituality?
For my lesson I made two pans of brownies. One perfectly baked and the other burnt like nobody’s business. I requested a volunteer to cut the first pan of brownies down the middle. My helper had no problem gliding the knife through the brownie. Then I had her cut the burnt pan. Her knife barely went in the brownie and when she did pierce it and tried to drag the knife down the middle it wouldn’t budge. In fact, she tried to take the knife out of the brownie but it got stuck and she ended up lifting the knife and brownie into the air, it was quite comical! I thanked her for her efforts and continued with my bizarre lesson.
I turned the brownie pans so the labels I had created were facing the group. The one that was easily cut was labeled Humble. The pan with the knife still stuck in it was labeled Pride. The knife was labeled The Holy Spirit.
I explained that the Holy Spirit can work freely to cut away the rough or undesirable edges within a person that is humble. Whereas the Spirit cannot work at all in a person that is prideful.
Humility allows one to be constantly progressing and refining themselves spiritually and temporally. Their success comes because of their willingness to allow the Lord to work within them, constantly moving onward and upward toward God. Pride, on the other hand, causes one to become stagnant. Ultimately leading them away from God and forgetting His love and goodness.
But how does one become humble or more humble? First thing to do is pray. Pray for the desire and the ability to become humble, even if you doubt your own ability to do so. The Savior has taught (Matthew 17:20) :
“If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed… nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Next thing to do is study about humility through the Scriptures. Especially study about the life and ministry of Christ, which is the perfect example of humility. This can be the most powerful learning experience if you do so with an open heart and listening spiritual ears.
I’ve also learned not to be afraid to ask people what humility means to them and if you are brave enough ask someone really close to you about areas or situations that you could work on being more humble in. Or you can go back to the first suggestion and ask Heavenly Father, through prayer, how you can be more humble. If you listen closely He will tell you.
Some thing important to remember is that we are not perfect pans of brownies. We will occasionally fail in our quest to become more humble, but we are never alone and we never run out of chances to try again. That is the beautiful thing about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. No matter how many times we fail as long as we sincerely repent, He and the Father remembers our sins no more.
Lastly, having gratitude to Heavenly Father and our Savior for their divine help to humble us (whether it be easy or hard) will help us to maintain that new-found humility. Then the circle repeats itself. Because humility really is:
“…to recognize gratefully your dependence on the Lord- to understand you have constant need for His support. Humility is an acknowledgement that your talents and abilities are gifts from God.” (True to the Faith, p. 86-87, Humility)