Latter-day Saint Life

Elder and Sister Soares answer a question on perfectionism in the best way

Elder Ulisses Soares and Sister Rosana Soares at the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults in Mexico City, Mexico, on Sunday, February 18, 2024.
Elder Ulisses Soares and Sister Rosana Soares at the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults in Mexico City, Mexico, on Sunday, February 18, 2024.
Screenshot from YouTube

As I watched this month’s Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, I was struck by how Elder Ulisses Soares and Sister Rosana Soares answered the following question:

“How do we differentiate perfectionism from Christ’s invitation to be perfect like Him?”

Sister Soares first responded to the question by sharing this quote from Elder Vern P. Stanfill’s recent conference address:

“Perfectionism requires an impossible self-inflicted standard that compares us to others. This causes guilt and anxiety and can make us want to withdraw and isolate ourselves.

“Becoming perfected in Christ is another matter. It is the process—lovingly guided by the Holy Ghost—of becoming more like the Savior. The standards are set by a kind and all-knowing Heavenly Father and clearly defined in the covenants we are invited to embrace. … As we accept the Savior’s invitation to come into Him, we soon realize that our best is good enough and that the grace of a loving Savior will make up the difference in ways we cannot imagine.”

Elder Soares encouraged us to remember that this pattern of being “perfected in [Christ]” (see Moroni 10:32) is “a gradual, lifelong process and requires more than a mere belief.” He testified, “I have seen firsthand how focusing our life on the Savior brings strength to overcome difficulties, weaknesses, and the pains of life, which are extremely difficult to bear without His help and healing power.”

These comments confirmed to me that improvement cannot be an individual process. We need to partner with Christ and rely on His grace to close the gap between where we are and where we want to be, and the Spirit plays a vital role in connecting us with Him.

On my mission, I sometimes felt discouraged by my imperfect communication skills. Even though I was called to teach in my native language, speaking to new people all day felt extremely out of my comfort zone. My social anxiety often caused me to stumble over my words or blank on what I had prepared or hoped to say, and like the prophet Enoch, I felt “slow of speech” (see Moses 6:31).

I worried that these weaknesses would prevent people from understanding the gospel or feeling God’s love. When I shared this concern with my mission president, he reminded me I was not the true teacher—the Spirit was. He encouraged me to focus on “connection, not perfection,” concentrating on the person I was teaching and trusting in the Spirit and the Savior’s grace to make up the difference.

▶ You may also like: Your job isn’t to be perfect. It’s to stay close to the One who can perfect you

As I applied this principle, I felt that the Holy Ghost was able to take my jumbled words and convey them in a way that uniquely met people’s needs. I realized that when I approached my teaching with a perfectionistic lens and focused on what I was doing, I isolated myself and left the Spirit out of the process.

Knowing that God doesn't expect us to become perfect on our own lifts a heavy burden off our shoulders, helping both us and others come closer to Christ. And, as Elder Soares taught, He is always ready to catch us when we fall and lift us to become more than we could ever imagine:

“Jesus Christ stands at the gates of our daily lives with open arms, and He beckons to us saying: ‘I will encircle thee in the arms of my love’ (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20). Even if we are stumbling or staggering, we can fall into His open arms, feel of His perfect love, and know that the space between His arms has been consecrated through His loving, atoning sacrifice, as a place for us.”

Watch the devotional below to hear more about how the Savior can help us resolve questions in our daily lives.

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