As a college student it is so easy to feel like we have to be perfect at everything. It is a very competitive world out there and it is so easy to compare ourselves to others. There are a lot of people who seem to be perfect. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves when we fall short. We all seem to notice our weaknesses more than anyone else and we it’s easy to focus on them.
On sunday we had a lesson that really has helped me in Relief society. I don't know if you happened to read Elder Utchdorf's talk from the Relief society general broadcast but it wasto put all of that into perspective. It was on a talk given by Elder Utchdorf from the relief society general meeting. His talk was so amazing, well most of theirs are amazing but his particularly stuck out to me. I won't make you read the entire thing (though it is pretty amazing) but there is one section that i love the most. He said:
First, forget not to be patient with yourself.
God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.
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, but He knows that this is a long-term goal. He wants us to become perfect, 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.
In the meantime, be thankful for all the small successes in your home, your family relationships, your education and livelihood, your Church participation and personal improvement. Like the forget-me-nots, these successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him. If you consider success to be only the most perfect rose or dazzling orchid, you may miss some of life’s sweetest experiences.
For example, insisting that you have a picture-perfect family home evening each week—even though doing so makes you and everyone around you miserable—may not be the best choice. Instead, ask yourself, “What could we do as a family that would be enjoyable and spiritual and bring us closer together?” That family home evening—though it may be modest in scope and execution—may have far more positive long-term results.
Our journey toward perfection is long, but we can find wonder and delight in even the tiniest steps in that journey.”
So I don't know if that can help you at all but it really helps me. While I was on my mission I was having a hard time with this. Not because I thought I had to be perfect but I did feel like I wasn't doing quiet enough to be able to help more people, even though I was doing everything I could think of at the time. It’s really easy to get down on yourself about stuff like that especially if you aren't seeing the results that you want. So during one of my interviews with my mission president I explained the way that I felt to him. He told me that that feeling is normal for everyone. Then I thought he was going to share with me some things that I could work on to start out. He pulled out his scriptures and said "What do you think about Nephi? Was he a great missionary, and follower of Christ?" I agreed wholeheartedly. Then he shared a scripture with me that has stuck with me to this day. He read 2 Nephi 4:17-18 to me it says:
"Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
Even though Nephi was probably one of the most amazing people in the history of mankind he thought of himself as "wretched". I had read that scripture many times before but it never hit me so had the meaning behind that then it did just then. But what got me the most is what he said after that until the end of the chapter as he explained what he does to compensate for that. I'll let you read that part on your own but I just loved it so much. Since that day I have tried to find ways that I can make the end of that chapter my life goal and theme. Whenever I'm hard on myself I try to remember that chapter and realize that I'm not perfect but someone that is can be my teacher and help me every step of the way.
I know that I am not perfect and I have many weaknesses. However, like it says in Ether 12:27
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
The lord is aware of us, our needs, strengths and weaknesses. If we are humble and have faith in his he can help lift us up and become stronger. We don’t have to be perfect. There is only one that is perfect and he just expects us to follow him and lean on him so that his perfection can compensate for our faults and weaknesses.