I want to tell you something that I hope you will take in the right way: God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.
Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.
And yet we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
It’s wonderful that you have strengths.
And it is part of your mortal experience that you do have weaknesses.
God wants to help us to eventually turn all of our weaknesses into strengths,1 but He knows that this is a long-term goal. He wants us to become perfect,2 and if we stay on the path of discipleship, one day we will. It’s OK that you’re not quite there yet. Keep working on it, but stop punishing yourself.
Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.
- President Dieter F. Uchtdorf,
2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Last weekend was the annual General Women's Broadcast for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I look forward to this all year, because the messages always seem to be exactly what I need. This year was no exception. I especially loved President Uchtdorf's message. I'm certain he wrote it specifically with me in mind! (You can read the whole message here.)
I'm sure many of you can relate. I know I'm not the only one who spends far too much time comparing my weaknesses to others' strengths. But why do we do that? If we can forgive the small mistakes and weaknesses of our friends and family members, why can't we forgive those same mistakes and weaknesses in ourselves?
I'm fully aware of my shortcomings. I feel like I need to apologize for my house whenever anyone comes to visit, because there's always a pile of clutter in a corner somewhere that I haven't dealt with yet. I'm embarrassed to admit that sometimes I serve cold cereal (without the cut up slices of fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, juice and milk that the commercials show as "a complete balanced breakfast") when I'm too tired to cook a real dinner. I don't think I'll ever attain a model-thin body, no matter how much time I spend at the gym. And I sometimes let my kids watch TV when they have a day off from school, because I didn't take the time to come up with a fun and educational family field trip.
Everyone else seems to be so much farther down the road to perfection than I am! I spend most of my days furtively looking over my shoulder, waiting for my friends, family and casual acquaintances to point out all the ways that I'm disappointing them, because no matter how hard I try, I keep falling short.
But instead, I often hear comments like: "I wish I could dance like you, but I have 2 left feet." "I wish I had long, pretty hair like yours, but mine gets too frizzy if I try to let it grow past my shoulders." "You cut your daughter's hair yourself? It's so cute! I could never learn how to do something like that." "You should really think about selling those cute bags you make. I wish I could do something creative like that."
These are all things that come easily for me, or they're skills I've spent enough time mastering that I don't think about them as true accomplishments anymore. But the thing is, we all have things we're good at, things we still need to work on and (sadly) skills we will probably never master. That's okay! We can use our own strengths to lift and help others where they may be weak, and they can do the same for us. That's why we're all on this earth together!