Nelson Mandela famously said, "I'm no saint--that is, unless you think a saint is someone who keeps on trying." What an encouraging statement! I am definitely not perfect, and yet I call myself a Latter-day Saint. This doesn't mean that I think I've reached some sort of exalted state. In fact, it is just the opposite. It means that I am very much mortal, but that I am hopefully seeking to become better.
Elder Renlund says, "Our theology [teaches us] that we may be perfected by repeatedly and iteratively 'relying wholly upon' the doctrine of Christ: exercising faith in Him, repenting, partaking of the sacrament to renew the covenants and blessings of baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost as a constant companion to a greater degree. As we do so, we become more like Christ and are able to endure to the end, with all that that entails. In less formal terms, God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than about who we once were. He cares that we keep on trying."
Because of Christ's Atonement and God's mercy, we can be changed. If we keep on trying, we can become better.
President Monson taught, "One of God's greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final." Elder Renlund continues, "Even if we've been a conscious, deliberate sinner or have repeatedly faced failure and disappointment, the moment we decide to try again, the Atonement of Christ can help us. And we need to remember that it is not the Holy Ghost that tells us we're so far gone that we might as well give up."
But this is the part that hit me: He says, "Just as God rejoices when we persevere, He is disappointed if we do not recognize that others are trying, too." As a South African sister said, "The Church is like a big hospital, and we are all sick in our own way. We come to church to be helped."
Elder Renlund continues, "We must not only be tolerant while others work on their individual illnesses; we must also be kind, patient, supportive, and understanding. As God encourages us to keep on trying, He expects us to allow others the space to do the same, at their own pace. The Atonement will come into our lives in even greater measure. We will then recognize that regardless of perceived differences, all of us are in need of the same infinite Atonement."
All this time I have been unfairly expecting the women I've been working with to be perfect, while assuming they will be understanding of my own imperfections. I haven't been allowing them the space they need to work on their own illnesses. Ah! What an epiphany! This is what I have learned: I need to be patient with other's efforts, and respectful of their place on their individual road to perfection. And hopefully they will be patient and respectful of mine, too. And oh, how this lesson can be applied to my relationship with my husband and children! Maybe this is the real lesson I need to learn from all of this. Am I expecting perfection when they are trying their best?
Let's all have a good week, ok? Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt, and a little more kindness than we think we deserve. We're all on this journey together, aren't we?
Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk here.