"God is fully aware that you and I are not perfect.
Let me add: God is also fully aware that the people you think are perfect are not.
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.
[ . . . ] Many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself."
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Forget Me Not," October 2011 general conference)
"But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7, emphasis added).
President Thomas S. Monson teaches more about not judging by physical appearances in his October 2010 general conference address, "Charity Never Faileth."
If you don't know the story, Beauty and the Beast is about a girl named Belle who saves her father's life by taking his place as a prisoner in the enchanted castle of a monstrous beast.
The main theme of Beauty and the Beast is learning to love others and look past appearances. The Beast was once a handsome prince, but was cursed when he showed cruelty to someone in need. In order to break the curse, he must learn to love someone (and be loved in return) before an enchanted rose drops its last petals.
When years pass and the Beast has no success, he only becomes angrier and more hopeless. Even after Belle has agreed to stay, he has no hope that someone as beautiful as she is could ever love a monster like him.
In your life, have you ever felt unloved or insignificant? Thankfully, we are assured that our Heavenly Father does love us and have a plan for our happiness.
“One of the greatest challenges is to overcome the feeling that we are unimportant, that we are not special and unique. Do you think for a moment that Heavenly Father would have sent one of His children to this earth by accident, without the possibility of a significant work to perform?" (Bishop H. Burke Peterson, "Your Life Has a Purpose," New Era, May 1979, pp. 4-5)
In Beauty and the Beast, Belle is the kind of person who can look past the outward appearance and see everyone's individual worth. In her village, she is well-known for her beauty, but she never lets that become an obsession for her. She values learning and adventures, and always puts others first.
At first, Belle is as frightened by the Beast as anyone else would be. He has a temper and has almost become inhuman. But Belle gives him a chance to improve, and the Beast's heart eventually softens. He has a long way to grow, but Belle's lack of judgment and condemnation shows him how to value others.
This attitude that Belle demonstrates in her difficult circumstances is exactly what Jesus encouraged us to do:
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Had Belle never given the Beast a chance and looked past his appearance, the Beast never would have learned to love but would have remained trapped in a state of sorrow and cruelty. Instead, he is literally transformed back to a handsome prince who now knows true love. And he and Belle live happily ever after.
President Uchtdorf recently spoke about the transforming power of Christlike love.
"When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it! It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Merciful Obtain Mercy" April 2012 general conference)
Sometimes it's easy to find fault in others (or in ourselves) based on the outward appearance of things, but we must remember that we are each a child of God with infinite worth and potential. Not a single one of us is a "nobody." "The worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10).
We must remember that everyone deserves love and help in finding the love of our Heavenly Father. This includes you and me and everyone around us. Let's all be more like Belle (and like our Heavenly Father) and see beyond outside appearances to find the good in people.
This object lesson is an oldie but a goodie. Before the lesson, make two separate batches of cookies. When preparing the first batch, make sure that the cookies are bigger and look very nice, but dump too much salt into the batter so that they'll taste bad. Make the other batch with the correct ingredients, but make them look misshapen and ugly.
Serve both batches of cookies on the same platter, and have everyone choose just one cookie. They'll most likely choose the pretty-looking ones and find out that they taste terrible. Ask why they chose the cookies they did, then use it as an analogy for how we shouldn't judge people by appearances alone.
Then serve the ugly cookies for dessert, and show how even something that doesn't look attractive can really brighten their lives!
(Note: if you don’t want to use food, you can put a fun prize in a poorly-wrapped box, then put something useless in a beautifully-wrapped box, and have the family just choose one to open. They'll most likely choose the prettier one, and you can use the same analogy.)
Also, watch Beauty and the Beast as a family!
Object Lessons Made Easy by Beth Lefgren and Jennifer Jackson
For more fun object lesson ideas, check out Object Lessons Made Easy, with 101 ways to enhance your lessons with simple, everyday objects!