During a lively discussion in our church’s women’s group this week, one young mother shared that she tasked her six-year-old son with selecting an outfit and folding it nicely so it would be ready in the morning. As the boy struggled to fold the pants in a way that satisfied him, he grew frustrated and had a bit of a meltdown, sure he had failed. She tried to encourage him by showing him possible methods and assuring him that whatever he managed would be good enough, but still he fretted on. The young mother lamented that he didn’t understand she wasn’t looking for perfection, just effort. It was important for him to develop the life skill. She knew time and practice would improve his capacity, and she was just pleased that he’d try.
We quickly drew the comparison to the tasks the Lord sets for us–commandments, commissions, and heavenly helpful hints. Whether the To Do list is found on stone tablets or in notes taken during a sermon on a mountainside, God knows we’re still novices struggling to get it right. However, we need not cry and rebuke ourselves. He is less concerned with how perfectly we do everything than with the sincerity of our effort. He is simply trying to help us cultivate eternal life skills, or traits we will need throughout mortality and beyond: patience, kindness, love unfeigned, forgiveness, and faith. It’ll take time and practice to improve our capacity, but He is pleased when we try.
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