Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Inspiration for Perfection

Our women's Relief Society class at church on Sunday was about patience.  One sweet sister made the comment that it is sometimes hard to be patient with yourself when you can see others around you who seem to be so much further ahead and more successful with everything in life than you are. 
 "Don't worry," the kind teacher assured her,  "they just look perfect on the outside.  They have just as many faults and troubles as you!  You know that sister that everyone talks about: the one who bakes her own bread, makes her children's clothes, always has her house tidy, does her scripture reading every day?  She doesn't exist!!"  And many in the class laughed a little and seemed to feel better.  

I remember my wonderful mother-in-law, who was a stake Relief Society president for many years, telling me years ago (when I was a young mother), about a large women's meeting her stake had recently enjoyed.  One of her counsellors spoke about 'this mythical Mormon woman', who seemed Perfect in every way.  "And do you know what?!"  the speaker assured the congregation of mormon women, "she doesn't exist!  And if she did exist, she wouldn't inspire me!  I'm inspired by You!  By your faults!  Because I can't relate to that 'perfect woman'!  I can relate to you!"  My faithful mother-in-law told me how much the talk had meant to all the women there; how much everyone there had loved it.

"I don't think we need to be threatened by perfection,"  I ventured to comment to the teacher on Sunday.  "I think there is so much to learn from each other, and I am so grateful to have examples around me of people who can do so many things better than I do."

"Yes, but if anyone seems to be too perfect, it's just discouraging!" 

What then of the wonderful gift of our Saviour's perfect example, I thought?   Are we to feel badly about ourselves because He was without fault?

Isn't one of the greatest blessings we have here on earth, not only the perfect teachings, but also the perfect example of our Saviour?  Are we not able to take great strength not only from the teachings of our prophets and apostles, but also in great measure from the example of their lives too?  As with the lives of so many other good and great people, both the humble and the feted, that we are so blessed to have around us, or to know something of?

My grandmother's example, for instance, taught me that you really could have a beautiful, perfectly clean, perfectly well-ordered home, and that such a home could provide a strong base for a peaceful family life.  I wouldn't have known that so well if I hadn't seen it modelled in her home.  Other examples I have garnered from friends, leaders, family members, and much-appreciated biographies, have taught me that I can be more loving, more hard-working, more patient, more forgiving, more generous, more brave and valiant, more humble and meek, more studious, more spiritually attuned than what I currently am - and have shown me that perfection, and certainly improvement, is veritably attainable in all these areas.    

I don't find inspiration in under-achievement.  How could I?  I'm already there!  If I am to perfect myself, it won't be from looking to people's faults, or stepping on others, but will be by having kind hands, loving faces, and fine examples before me, to help raise me up.  Before and above all others, we have the example of the Saviour to guide us all.  

Perfection in others is surely the very opposite of discouraging!  If someone else can do it - isn't it likely that you and I can too?  Are we not all children of our loving Heavenly Parents?  Are we not all sent here with the same divine potential, and with the same sure promise of celestial success, according only to our own choices?  

I cannot think of a single person I know who I don't look to for an example in some thing, or that I can't learn from.  I'm constantly amazed and delighted at how truly wonderful people are.  It's a big part of my testimony that we are in reality, all children of God - especially when  I can see and feel the truth of that in the people I come in contact with each day.

I'm always amazed when people fail to know that about themselves - how infinitely special each of us is.

I believe that a lot of the things that we think of as being faults in ourselves and others, are probably somewhat insignificant in the big scheme of eternal everything.  And that a lot of the kindnesses, and courage shown by many every day, are actually more significant than we currently understand - in much the same way that the stumbles of a toddler learning to walk are really just moments along the way to his knowing how to run: important as part of the process, but eventually all but forgotten in the glow of his eventual, sure success - if he keeps trying, that is.

I'm grateful for your good examples!  In so very many ways, you are more creative, more sociable, more diligent, more insightful, more progressed, more all sorts of wonderful things than I am.  I am so grateful that you are!

So!  Please don't hide your perfections under any kind of bushel.   Your shining lights are helping me to find my way forward and upward too  :)


1 comment:

  1. All right, you've convinced me. I'm willing to own my perfection :) :)
    Lol, no but seriously, I don't find it discouraging if I see someone amazing or just 'perfect' at everything!
    I would find it discouraging if I were being compared to them and asked why I'm not as good because then I'd feel dumb, but other than that I just admire it and love the example :)

    PS. You're one of those people Mum!! xoxo