Today’s Reading: Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You
The last year has been emotionally and spiritually difficult. As a couple, we felt guided by the Spirit to pursue something we never anticipated nor were we prepared for. The directive was clear, but we could not understand or see the path illuminated. It was completely uncharted and unfamiliar territory. I was terrified and stretched to what seemed like my breaking point. I remember a particularly painful day when frustration and hopelessness mounted. As a couple, we had received guidance from the Spirit, yet I was convinced that I was failing in the pursuit of those ambitions. As with any pity-party, all of my insecurities surfaced and I convinced myself that in addition to failing, I was also a bad mom, a terrible wife, a rotten meal planner, a pathetic Young Women’s leader, and the least Christlike person on the planet.
The truth is that perfectionism plagues me. I am hyper-critical of myself and lend myself minimal grace. My husband views failure as opportunities to learn and grow, while I internalize failure as a manifestation of everything I lack. I think many, if not most women fall into this category.
Why is this?
I think Satan sees the strength and influence women can have, which is why he wishes to undermine and devalue our power. He loves the paralyzing effects that self-doubt and self-contempt have on us; it is his weapon of choice. This is exactly why we need reminders that it is ok–expected, even– to be imperfect and that we are loved in all of our imperfection. It was Elder Holland who reminded us that the Lord blesses not just those who keep the commandments perfectly, but also those who seek to do so, despite their weaknesses, failings and imperfections:
“Verily I say unto you, [the gifts of God] are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep… my commandments, and [for them] that seeketh so to do… We take some solace in the fact that if God were to reward only the perfectly faithful, He wouldn’t have much of a distribution list. Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. If you fall, summon His strength. Call out like Alma, “O Jesus, … have mercy on me.” He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek.”
This doctrine fills me to the brim with hope! In fact, a portion of this quote is hanging in my home where I pass by it no less than one hundred times each day. These truths are powerful, comforting, and have helped remind me that even my feeble efforts are acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. He doesn’t love perfection, He loves people. Elder Holland’s words have helped me fight my battle with unrealistic and all-consuming perfectionism:
“God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keeping seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor.”