The Savior invites us to work on our progression while we are in this mortal existence. He admonishes, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” This is an invitation to set our eyes towards heaven, knowing that with divine help we can overcome weaknesses and progress. In our quest for perfection, we sometimes wrongfully assume that, in its entirety, it can be attained in this life. If we are not careful, the adversary can use this desire for perfection to plant thoughts that discourage, demean and destroy.
We May Think We Are Never Enough
As we set goals and work on the things that we need to do to be perfect, there are times when we fail. In our effort to reach every goal and carry out every plan, we sometimes forget to give ourselves room to make mistakes. Instead of learning from mistakes and failures, there is a tendency to shrink and sulk. And because the fact of the matter is that we can never be completely perfect in this life, feelings of disappointment can overwhelm us if we let them. We may have difficulty forgiving ourselves. There is so much danger in cultivating this kind of thought. It will not only hurt us but it can derail us from the path of progression.
We Compete With Others
The adversary wants us to think that the road to perfection is a race instead of a journey. If we are not ahead or if we are not moving as fast as we would like to up the ladder, we harbor feelings of anger and jealousy. In our desire to be the best versions of ourselves, we sometimes forget to be good. Competition strains relationships and hinders charitable thoughts and feelings. There is nothing wrong with healthy competition. But if it is hurting people’s feelings, then it is not helping. And at times, the one hurt the most is our self.
We Boast in Our Own Strength
We may get enveloped in the process of perfecting ourselves too much when we achieve successes. This can make us feel the pull of pride and push the tender mercies of heaven away. Because we work so hard to reach where we want to be and be who we want to become, we may have a tendency to forget to acknowledge divine help. We all want the affirmation of the praise of men, but it is not what is most important. What the world thinks of us should never matter more than what the Lord thinks of us. Satan, in all his subtlety, encourages us to magnify ourselves and what we can do, instead of glorifying God who is the source of all things.
We Expect Perfection from Others
“If I have to work this hard, then they should too!” How often do we hear these words in our heads? Or, “Why would they make those mistakes when they already know the commandments?” Since we are focused on trying so hard to be perfect, we may expect other people to do what we do, and to think how we think. It can be so easy to develop a very judgmental attitude. Remember that every child of God is a unique being. Although we all have the same mandate to work towards perfection, Heavenly Father reminds us often that we do it line upon line, precept upon precept. We must remember that we all differ in our pace. Getting too absorbed with perfecting ourselves in this life will cloud our understanding of this eternal truth.
The Savior of the world, though he lived perfectly, did not attain perfection until the Atonement was completed and He was received by the Father as a glorified, resurrected being. May we keep this in mind and take it to heart. We can do so much good and we can touch the lives of others in this life, even if we are not yet perfect. Find joy in the journey and learn from every experience – in successes and failures alike. Heavenly Father wants us to rise above worldly thoughts and guard our intentions. This way, Satan will not be able to influence our words and our actions. Perfection is very much attainable, but we are not required to run faster than we are able. Instead, let us hold on to the enabling power of the Atonement and allow its redeeming power to make us whole.