Instead of setting the unrealistic ideal of perfection as our goal, we should strive to follow Gordon B. Hinckley's counsel of focusing on a little bit at a time: "Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities."
One of the misperceptions that we may struggle with during this earth life has to do with the concept of perfection. Many falsely believe that we must achieve perfection in this life in order to be saved or exalted.
As a therapist, I was once in a meeting with a woman when she burst into tears. She said, “How can I ever be good enough?” She went on to talk about how unworthy she was. As we explored her feelings, no great sin emerged from her past or present. She just felt she wasn’t good enough. She compared herself to neighbors, friends, and relatives, and everyone that she could recall was “better,” in her mind, than she was.
Thoughts Become Our Reality
I know that there are many who have had feelings of imperfection and insecurity, whether in a calling, as a parent, or just in general. These feelings can cause us to hide our talents and hold back from others or feel discouragement, anxiety, or depression. Our thoughts about ourselves significantly influence our behaviors and feelings. Many of us say things to ourselves that we would never say to another person. This, in turn, holds us back from our true potential and diminishes our abilities and talents. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) said, “Satan is increasingly striving to overcome the Saints with despair, discouragement, despondency, and depression.”
Fortunately, “the only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us,” taught Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy. “Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.”