27 January 2013

Becoming Perfect, One Day at a Time

This morning, in my daily devotional study, I came across the following from Lorenzo Snow (President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - the Mormon Church - from 1898 to 1901):

Do not expect to become perfect at once. If you do, you will be disappointed. Be better today than you were yesterday, and be better tomorrow than you are today. The temptations that perhaps partially overcome us today, let them not overcome us so far tomorrow. Thus continue to be a little better day by day; and do not let your life wear away without accomplishing good to others as well as to ourselves.
Each last day or each last week should be the best that we have ever experienced, that is, we should advance ourselves a little every day, in knowledge and wisdom, and in the ability to accomplish good.
 He didn't say that we shouldn't expect perfection. In fact, he encourages each of us to eventually attain perfection in our lives by striving each day to be a little bit more perfect than we were yesterday.

This advice is going into my permanent file of encouragement. Because it applies to every aspect of life.

Yes, I will make mistakes as I strive to be the best mom ever. There may be times when, tired and discouraged, I will lose my temper and yell, and then send the kids to their rooms, instead of taking the time to calmly discuss the issues we're struggling with. Or I may, from time to time, serve cold cereal for dinner instead of a 4-course gourmet meal. But these little setbacks don't mean I've killed my chances for ever being a good mom. (Heck, sometimes we need a cold cereal night more than we need a gourmet dinner!)

Yes, I will make mistakes with my writing. I might write a truly terrible first draft of a story, full of two-dimensional characters and totally lacking depth and direction. But I can revise, rework and edit that story until it shines. I might accidentally send a query letter for my story about a little clown who struggles with the fact that he doesn't have over-sized feet like the other clowns to an agent who has a terrible fear of clowns... and then discover a tweet from that same agent where she admits her phobia and advises that all clown stories should be destroyed immediately. But I can research other agents, looking for one who loves clowns before I send other queries. (Note: this is a hypothetical situation. I don't have such a story... although now I want to write it... and if I do, I promise not to send it to any agents or editors who have openly admitted their Coulrophobia.)

Yes, I will make mistakes as a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a Christian. There will be moments when I am far from perfect. But that's the great thing about this life. We have second chances. When we make mistakes, we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and fix them. We can move forward each day, working to make ourselves today just a little bit better than we were yesterday.

And we will have moments (many, many moments) when we are perfect. That cake recipe you've been struggling with for years? Finally came out perfectly... That complicated piano piece you've been practicing? You didn't miss a single note this time... That phone call you made to a friend, just because you were thinking of her? It was exactly what she needed at a particularly low point in her life. - We may not see or recognize all of our perfect moments, and we may stumble and fall more than once in between those moments. But that's okay.

Because the Lord only asked us to "Be ye therefore perfect," (Matthew 5:48). He didn't say "and I expect you to do it all today."

No comments:

Post a Comment