It was one of those weeks.
There really wasn't too much to talk about, but I still feel like we did our best to help those around us.
We had a few great lessons this week. Shellie is progressing really well. She asked some great questions, like why we're out on missions and what exactly we do at our church. We talked and testified that we know this is Christ's church and invited her to attend next week. She seemed really eager to go and we're excited for her.
Side note, we saw a guy riding his bike without any pants on. Good job Oregon!
We also had lessons with some of our other progressing investigators. Xavier was supposed to get baptized this week, but that didn't happen. We're working with him and his mom to make sure he can get all the lessons and that his commitment and support levels are there. We're shooting for the beginning of December now. Everyone else we're working with seems to be doing well.
The Springfield Stake had their Stake Conference this weekend. It was really nifty. President Ennis is a great man and had some wonderful remarks about charity and what it truly means. We also had a member of the Seventy there presiding; Elder Blunck (I have absolutely no idea how to spell that). The spirit was there especially during the closing hymn I Believe in Christ, a personal favorite.
I think what really struck me the most this week came from a lesson we had with two less active members on Sunday. Now, I'll give a little bit of background on why this was so meaningful. For the past little while I've been struggling with thoughts of inadequacy and really wondering if I'm making any sort of difference. I mean, things have been slow for like the past 6 months of my mission. I was really discouraged and have been wondering what I was doing wrong. I mean, other missionaries are having success and seem to be doing a whole lot better than I am, so what's wrong with me? Even if it hasn't been at the forefront of my thoughts, it's definitely been in the back of my mind.
Now, Sunday night. We were talking with Sister Ryckman, a less active convert of about 20-30 years or so, who's trying to get herself to the temple. Also in attendance was my main man Brother Wilde, who's working to take the sacrament again. We get on the topic of how we feel like there's so much that we're not doing that we feel like we should be. During my studies, I stumbled on something I really loved, and I shared it with them.
In Mathew Chapter 5, Christ is giving the Sermon on the Mount. In the last verse of that chapter, the Savior gives the famous council to Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. We're counseled here to strive and eventually achieve a higher standard. I feel like this commandment that the Savior gives is often misunderstood.
There's a culture in the church and in the world that I've noticed of trying to be someone who isn't us; who we feel is like us but better, and calling that "Perfection". We're constantly comparing ourselves to those around us and trying to make ourselves "better." We're trying to reach a level that we think is perfect; the best job, the best clothes, the best car, the perfect family, the perfect marriage, the perfect everything. We try to eliminate all flaws and negative aspects of our lives trying to become something that we feel we HAVE to be at. This leads to so many problems and heartaches. That's not what the Savior wants, because that's not what He meant when he said to be ye therefor perfect.
In the 12th chapter of the 3rd Book of Nephi, Christ is giving his disciples in the Americas a similar address to the Sermon on the Mount that he gave back in Galilee before he performed the Atonement and ascended to heaven as a resurrected being. The last verse of that chapter gives the same council as the verse in Matthew, with one minor variation:
48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
Jesus Christ, the only person to ever walk this earth with a life free from sin and transgression, performing every commandment given to him with exactness - a man who embodied the attributes of love, charity, obedience, and faith - a man who by all means lived a perfect life, didn't refer to himself as perfect. Not until he had died and been resurrected.
There's so much comfort to me in that realization. We're not commanded to be perfect meaning without flaw or fault, but rather to be perfect meaning to be complete or whole. In this context, to be made whole through the grace and merits of Jesus Christ's atonement. We're not commanded to be without flaw or to not make any mistakes; rather we're commanded to live the gospel and do our best. Heavenly Father wouldn't command us to be something we're not, or to aim for some infinite goal knowing full well we won't reach it. God loves us, no matter where we are in our walk with him. This life and gospel isn't a sprit to the finish line to see who gets to go and live with God again if you win first place. This life is like a marathon; a personalized struggle that we all go through, where we all have the same goal, the same prize on the other side; eternal life. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there, it just matters that you get there!
After teaching this during that lesson, the spirit really hit me. Hard. I know that I'm not expected to be the "perfect" missionary. I still get scared to talk to people, I still hate knocking doors, and I still struggle with the things that I go through, but that's exactly how it's supposed to be. If it wasn't, what would there be to learn? I was called here to be me, not anyone else. I'm very grateful for that insight going forward.
For anyone who is struggling with thoughts or feelings of not being good enough, or who are comparing themselves to some self-imposed standard of excellence or to the highlight reel of others, remember, you don't have to be discouraged. God loves us for who we are, faults and all, and as we try our best to do our best, then he can work through us. I pray that on your path to eventual perfection, you remember this.
I love you all so much. Thank you for everything and all that you do. It doesn't go unnoticed! Stay safe and keep your heads up.
Take it easy,
|*misty mountain song from The Hobbit goes here*|
|I call this "Cultural Diversity"|
|Springfield Stake Conference|