Thursday, July 15, 2010

On being tolerant with ourselves

The other day I posted about my higher / different standards compared with those of others in my life. Today I'd like to talk about my own inability to reach my own standards.

I suspect we all fall short from time to time. Sometimes these are small things that barely merit a second thought, and sometimes they are mistakes that seem to haunt us for a long time. Without creating a list of my own insecurities and shortcomings, I can say that even seemingly insignificant mistakes of my youth creep back into my consciousness from time to time and still cause discomfort – no so much because I was bad or wrong, as I wasn't what I wanted to be.

In the Book of Mormon, Alma gives his son Corianton good advice in this matter: "only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance" (Alma 42:29). Corianton had made some pretty big mistakes, and you can read about them yourself in Chapters 39-32. But Alma sent him back to work. His counsel is that we ought to feel bad enough to change, but no worse than that.

The Lord himself reminds us regularly through the scriptures that he is anxious for us to turn back to him. In 3 Nephi, for instance, just before he appears to the Nephites he repeats a common refrain: "how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you. And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings" (3 Nephi 10:4-5).

I believe the Lord is anxious to bless us, else why would he have suffered for us as he did? And if he is anxious to bless us, if he wants to gather us as a hen gathereth her chickens, then shouldn't we also want to be gathered?

A commenter on a recent post suggested we need to be tolerant with ourselves as we live the gospel. President Hinckley reminded us that we need to do the best we can. King Benjamin taught that we shouldn't run faster than we are able. Sometimes, even if we're not doing everything just right, we are doing what we can do. And it's good that we are doing what we can. Part of the blessing of the atonement is that the Lord helps to make up the difference when we need it.

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