by Devon Linn
I AM NOT PERFECT….yet?
Are any of us perfect? I for one definitely am not, though I tell my husband that’s a good thing. Who wants to be married to someone who is absolutely perfect? It would make you feel so inadequate all the time being less than they are, right? So I tell my darling Milt that it's a good thing that I'm a little bit messy, because if I were neat then I would be absolutely perfect in every way! He is so lucky to have such a messy wife!
Other than having a cleaner house, I think I probably have plenty of other things to work on. What’s great is that with the gospel, the Lord will help give us promptings telling us the ways we can improve in our lives and the changes we need to make if we have the Spirit.
I get these promptings all the time. Sometimes they come to me while listening to General Conference, or a lesson in church on Sunday, or reading my scriptures, and then I usually do try to be better for at least a few days but then….*poof* they're just gone and I've forgotten the prompting and moved onto something else I need to work on. And I don’t think I forget because I’m lazy or don’t really want to be better, but it’s more because life just seems to get too darn busy and my brain just has too much going on to remember everything (or sometimes anything at all!)
I’m sure everyone has failed at least once or twice to follow a prompting. Usually for me, it begins with listening to a lesson or a talk and thinking, “Yes! I can do that and be better! I can improve in my efforts to ______________ (fill in the blank: pray more, work on family history, judge less, prioritize my time better, study my scriptures, write in my journal, etc etc etc).”
But when it comes time to actually and consistently IMPLEMENT the change, I find myself too busy cleaning, doing laundry, working, paying bills, and other everyday things that I’m just so busy and exhausted that I’ve totally forgotten the prompting I received in the first place. Does this happen to everyone? Luckily the Lord knows and loves us, so he sends a lot of “reminder” promptings, because He just won't give up on us.
One of my favorite quotes to read when I feel overwhelmed at all the things I need to be doing is this one by Sister Beck:
“Good women always have a desire to know if they are succeeding. In a world where the measures of success are often distorted, it is important to seek appreciation and affirmation from proper sources. To paraphrase a list found in Preach My Gospel, we are doing well when we develop attributes of Christ and strive to obey His gospel with exactness. We are doing well when we seek to improve ourselves and do our best. We are doing well when we increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need. We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit. When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves. We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us. Peace, joy, and hope are available to those who measure success properly.” – Julie B. Beck
Oh, if I could only read this quote every day! Sister Beck’s words are exactly what I constantly need to hear to re-commit myself to try harder and keep working in the right direction. It’s not important to be hard on ourselves if we aren't perfect already, but it is important that we are trying to improve ourselves every day.
I love that Sister Beck specifically mentions trying to develop attributes of Christ, because that goal seems to encompass all the other promptings I receive. I also love that she pointed out that doing our best still won’t keep disappointments away, because that’s just not how the plan works, but at least we won’t be disappointed in ourselves when we’ve followed the Spirit and done our best. I have felt the peace and hope that comes when we feel the Spirit working through us, and it is worth every effort I make to strive to feel that love and joy as often as I can while on this earth.
I don’t normally believe in Yearly Resolutions, but I whole-heartedly vote for having weekly ones that I think about during the Sacrament. Last year Ellen did a post on this RS blog on what our Resolutions for the year were going to be, and I actually thought about it and replied to her, thinking I’d give it a try. Sad to say…this week I had to go back to the blog to remember exactly what they were. I did remember that there was something about not yelling at my children, so that’s something! And I do think I did better (minus maybe 10 days or so, give or take).
What are some of your goals/resolutions/changes you want to make?Here are some of the things sisters mentioned in Relief Society:
- Pray more, better, more intently
- Be more in tune with the Spirit/more Spiritually Discerning
- Work on Family History
- Write Personal History/Journal
- Learn/Gain Knowledge
- Be Healthier
- Better Visiting Teacher
- Scripture study/Institute
- More Self-Reliant (work on food storage, 72-hour kits, etc).
- Prioritize time better
- NOT making lists & plans (obviously, this one applied to some of our proactive sisters, and does not apply to me. :)
PIECE OF CAKE, RIGHT? Oh, wait...Obstacles?
It can be hard to change. When we are truly trying to change something that is really going to make an impact in our lives, that’s when the adversary seems to work the hardest on us. I love this quote by C.S. Lewis:
“Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means” (Mere Christianity , 109–10). -C.S. Lewis
What are some of the things that are blowing against us? What is keeping us from making these inspired changes in our lives? Here is a list of things sisters in Relief Society mentioned:
- GUILT/Feelings of Inadequacy
- Addictions/Natural Man
- Physical hardships
I think guilt is really the one that sneaks in more often than we realize. We hear lessons like this and we immediately think, “oh, I've already failed so many times! I’m so terrible, and I just can’t change because I’ve already failed before!” You know if you are feeling a pit in your stomach right now about something that you want to change. That icky feeling is not from the Lord. Satan is the one that makes us feel bad about ourselves and inadequate. "Good guilt" that comes from the Lord should be something you feel inspired about and feel hopeful that you can change, and should never make you feel terrible about yourself.
We need to start today by telling ourselves to stop looking back and feeling guilty and inadequate at our previous habits, but just focus forward and the change that we CAN make. We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, and we are free to act however we choose to act. If we want to change, no one can stop us. Satan throws negativity and guilt at us to try to keep us from reaching our divine potential, but he cannot stop us if we choose to change!
We are strong enough for self-control. We are Heavenly Father’s children, and he has sent us here with the capacity to overcome and accomplish great things.
Each of us is accountable for his own actions. How can any of us hope to play a great role in time or eternity if we have no power of self-control? Is overcoming self-control easier or harder than overcoming lack of time?
WHEN SHOULD WE START? TODAY!
Donald Hallstrom of the seventy gave a talk a few years ago on procrastination, and in it he talked about one the most memorable “prophet-isms” from President Kimball:
"One of President Spencer W. Kimball’s effective encouragements was the succinct “Do It.” He later expanded this to “Do It Now” to pointedly teach the need for timeliness. President Kimball also taught the profound principle that procrastination leads to the loss of exaltation. He said: “One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination, an unwillingness to accept personal responsibilities now. … Many have allowed themselves to be diverted and have become … addicts to mental and spiritual indolence and to the pursuit of worldly pleasure.” - Donald L. Hallstrom
Elder Hallstrom also said:
“We know what is right, but we delay full spiritual involvement because of laziness, fear, rationalization, or lack of faith. We convince ourselves that “someday I’m going to do it.” However, for many “someday” never comes, and even for others who eventually do make a change, there is an irretrievable loss of progress and surely regression.” - Donald L. Hallstrom
Doesn’t that make us realize that we really do need to be working and trying and moving in the right direction? We need to change, because as the quote from C.S. Lewis earlier talked about trials being like the wind, you cannot just stand still and hope to be going anywhere. We need to be moving forward, and improving, and becoming more like our Savior to bring about true joy in our lives here on the earth. And will it be easy? No. It will take some work. As Elder Uchtdorf puts it so perfectly:
"When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer—no matter how eloquent the oration. President Thomas S. Monson put it this way: “It is not enough to want to make the effort and to say we’ll make the effort. … It’s in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals. If we constantly put our goals off, we will never see them fulfilled.” -Dieter F. Uchtdorf
THE KEY TO REMEMBER:
The one thing that we have to remember is that we can do it because we have the Savior helping us with our inspired goals. Sister Beck reminds us in this quote how our resolutions really can be weekly ones we think about during the sacrament, and then we can repent and move on.
“It is not possible to make real change all by ourselves. Our own willpower and our own good intentions are not enough. When we make mistakes or choose poorly, we must have the help of our Savior to get back on track. We partake of the sacrament week after week to show our faith in His power to change us. We confess our sins and promise to forsake them.” -Julie B. Beck
One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I know that that is true, and that the Savior wants to help us change for the better. He can do anything, and we are worth it! He loves us enough to help us overcome every trial, every bad habit, every addiction. And we can change whatever we don’t feel good about, because HE will be there with us. He is our Savior, and He alone can heal us from all imperfections. It won’t be easy, but we can do it.