On Friday night I watched a broadcast of an address given to young adults by Elder David Bednar. He spoke about ‘not shrinking’ during trials, and shared the story of a young couple who faced cancer almost as soon as they were married, and struggled with it twice. The couple asked him to come and administer a priesthood blessing to the young man, hoping it would be a blessing of healing. Before he gave the blessing, though, Elder Bednar found himself asking them some searching questions he hadn’t intended to ask. One of them was, “Do you have the faith not to be healed?”, which surprised both him and the young man. After some soul-searching, the young man realised that he was like the apostles in the boat tossed on Galilee and in danger of sinking, who called out to the Lord, “Carest thou not that we perish?” Jesus answered them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” and proceeded to calm the storm. The apostles, and this young man, didn’t fully believe that Christ was able to save them. He realised that having faith wasn’t necessarily knowing that God would heal him, but that He could, and until he really believed in that, his faith was insufficient to be healed.
I couldn’t forget that new understanding about faith. I’ve been struggling recently with a lack of following through on some of the basic things I know I should be doing and being, and I’ve felt not-good-enough as a result. I know what I need to do, but keep failing myself in actually doing it. As I reflected on that particular part of Elder Bednar’s address, I came to understand that I, also, need to believe that God is able to save me – to create in me the changes that will make me what I want to be; whole and complete; and that He will. Not just that He will if I do my part (which is true), but that He will enable me to do my part. He will make me able. That is trusting and having faith in Him; it’s having faith in Christ’s atoning power and in His attributes, which are what make him both able and will-ing to do this. It’s belief in His full role and who He actually is.
Although I’m often afraid that who and what I am isn’t going to be good enough for the heaven I hope to find myself in, the fact is that I can’t make myself good enough. My efforts need to be made in faith – the faith that Christ will take those efforts (can take them and is taking them) and lift them to where they need to be – the real “wind beneath my wings”! I must make my efforts regardless of whether I think they’re good enough. Obviously, I need to do all I can to make them sincere and the best I’m able to in that moment; but if I start to get discouraged because I think I’m failing, and then overwhelmed when I try to plan all the things I need to overcome to be different and better, then I must realise that I can’t stop there. At that point, I have to continue making those efforts, because they are what I have. Only by continuing to make them will I be able to move on to making better, more satisfactory ones in the future. In making daily efforts, God will show me my weakness. Until that perfect day, I’ll always have a gap, and I need to be humble enough to accept that gap. I’ll see it when I compare myself to who and what I want to really be; but it’s okay, as long as I don’t stop there and give up. It would be far worse not to see the gap, because that would mean that I was blind and filled with pride, not that it wasn’t there.
God doesn’t hate me because of that gap. He loves my real efforts to close it; He knows what I have to overcome, and His purpose – His stated purpose – is to help me overcome it all. I have to really believe that; believe that He will be there the whole way, right to the end, the end where I am finally completed. He is not giving up on me – there won’t come a time when He says, “Well, it’s not worth it anymore; she’s just not getting there fast enough, and she’s making too many mistakes.” Perfect patience is also one of God’s attributes. As Neal A. Maxwell said, God’s foreknowledge allows Him to see us not just as we are, but as we may become. So if He is not giving up on me, at any point, then why should I, ever?
In questioning my own ability to do better and to become each day who I want to be; in seeing that gap and allowing it to discourage me, I have been questioning God’s ability to save me, from who and where I am today. Not from some point ahead of me that I keep trying to get to and fail at, but from right here, today. I am questioning that His power really extends to that point – as the apostles in the boat did, and as the young man with cancer was. God isn’t just able to save everyone else, or people in general, but also ME. Imperfect me. The one who not only has weaknesses, which I know He is able to make strong, but who is also weak. That weakness, too, falls within His power. There is no reason to become to discouraged, because He is mighty to save! His Atonement is infinite – infinite to the point of encompassing me and all of my frailties. Obviously, He knows when I can do better. But He is my Saviour so that He can make me better.
It is my faith in Christ’s power extending to me at this exact moment, as I am right here, that allows me to have the hope sufficient to keep making efforts, inadequate as they are. My efforts will forever be inadequate; but that isn’t what keeps me making them, or at least not what should; it’s the trust and faith in God that He is good enough. Magnanimous enough to accept these inadequate (compared to Him) efforts, and powerful enough to make inadequate-me whole. That is a great miracle!
“Our perfect Father does not expect us to be perfect children yet. He had only one such Child. Meanwhile, therefore, sometimes with smudges on our cheeks, dirt on our hands, and shoes untied, stammeringly but smilingly we present God with a dandelion – as if it were an orchid or a rose! If for now the dandelion is the best we have to offer, He receives it, knowing what we may later place on the altar. It is good to remember how young we are spiritually.” (Neal A. Maxwell)