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Mom of five lovely daughters, wife of one dashing man. Born in Utah, grew up in Oregon, live in Georgia.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"...even as He is perfect"

All week I've felt a little out of sorts. I've been working and working and accomplishing good things, but have felt frustrated because there is always MORE I should do. Even though my life is everything I want, I haven't felt calm or at peace. Last night I finally broke down to David and told him that I just wasn't feeling happy and could not figure out why. Nothing he said helped, and we went to bed even more frustrated.

Then today I watched a BYU Womens Conference talk on TV. It was an arrow to the heart. Daniel K. Judd told following story that hit a little too close to home:

"There was a woman named Esther who wanted to be the perfect wife and mother. Every morning she would wake up and say, 'This is the day that I will be perfect. The house will be organized. I will not yell at my children. I will finish everything important that I have planned.' But every night Esther went to bed discouraged because she had failed to accomplish her goal. She became angry with everyone-- especially herself-- and she began to wonder what she was doing wrong. In time, Esther began to pray and ask the Lord for guidance. And during this time a startling thought came to her mind. She realized that in focusing on her own perfection she was focusing on her own self and failing to love other people-- particularly her husband and children. She was not being loving, and therefore not like Christ, but essentially focused on herself. She was trying to be sweet to her children, but not freely out of love for them, but because she saw it as a necessary part of her own perfection. Furthermore, she was trying to get a feeling of righteousness by forcing her husband and children to meet her ideal of perfection. When her children got in the way of her perfect routine, she blamed them for making her feel imperfect and became irritated with them and treated them in a most unloving way. Likewise, if her husband did not meet her ideal of perfection when he came home from work, she judged him as failing and was critical of him for reinforcing her own sense of unrighteousness. But as time passed and revelation came, she came to understand the Savior's commandment to be perfect 'even as He is perfect.' And she realized she was pursuing the wrong goal."

Ouch.

In a physical world it is very easy to get caught up in pursuing physical perfection. I want my body to be attractive, my home to be clean and organized and beautifully decorated, my kids to be cute, and my husband to be a tool to help me accomplish the tasks I cannot do myself. All so my life can be a perfect example of righteous accomplishment. I have been doing good things with the wrong motivation.

Love was the hallmark of Christ's ministry and is the "divinest attribute of the human soul" (David O. McKay). Pride is a malevolent counterfeit. Try as we might, we will never become perfect "as He is perfect" unless love becomes our motivation. Pride is selfish and indulgent and empty. Love is selfless and pure and satisfying. I realized today that I had succumbed to pride. Everything was about me and my pursuit of "perfection." But by shifting my focus a burden has been lifted. I'm realizing that being perfect in Christ has more to do with HIS abilities than mine. Instead of waking up in the morning with an impossible to-do list, my goal is to LOVE. I'll still try to take care of the physical things, but my goal is to do them out of love and not pride. And when I fall short-- and I will fall short-- I will quickly repent instead of beating myself up and agonizing over my failues. And by remembering Christ and keeping Him at my center, I will hopefully have the Spirit to sanctify me and to help me become truly perfect in Christ.

It won't happen overnight. I will probably continue to struggle with with feelings of doubt, pride, and discouragement. But at least for the moment I have a clear focus on what I need to work towards and who I need to become.

10 comments:

Stacey said...

Oh Jessi this makes such great sense...I too have just had one of those weeks! The more I tried to accomplish the more resistance and struggle I faced. I have been frustrated all week! I'm exhausted and I think "why" was this week so trying?!!! Thanks for posting this as I'm determined to have a better week next week and this message is what I need to remember when life is not going as I planned! Thanks!

Michelle Pyne said...

Thank goodness for that Women's Conference talk!! I have had that exact same struggle - trying to meet the world's definition of perfection, thinking all the while it was God's definition. There is more to pride than just being arrogant. When I finally let go of the world's definition and take up God's, it is tremendously freeing. But if I don't constantly humble myself, it becomes pretty easy to slip back into the pride definition. One of the conclusions I came to was that mortality was a time to learn to deal with weakness and imperfection - other's and our own. The Atonement offers the perfect model for dealing with imperfection, just as Christ offers the perfect model of love. Thank you for sharing this with us! It is the battle we all wage, I think, whether we know it or not.

Sweetest Of All said...

Oh my gosh. I'm crying. Can't comment. Just tears. Thank you.

Jen said...

Love this.

Emma said...

what a wonderful message. thank-you for sharing.

Chris said...

I'll bet you will never know how many of your friends and family needed to read this because of having the same feelings as you. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Only Christ is perfect. We can strive to be that way but when we don't feel we are then that's when the awful feelings take over. You are such a good example to not only me but to many, many others. Thank you for posting that talk because it has helped me more than you will know.

Shana said...

Jessi, this is something that I have been dealing with too the past few weeks! I know I am busy ALL THE TIME, but when the day ends I can't seem to notice what I even did!! You are amazing and I am so grateful for your words. You wrote that so beautifully and perfectly. I needed this very much!! You are a beautiful person, wife and mother and I look up to you a lot. I love you!

Elaine said...

Beautiful message. I have long given up the notion that I can make things perfect by doing what is right and good. What I have learned is how to be happy and content when the most important things in your life have not gone as planned. IT's how we act or react that makes the difference. Life is much easier when expectations for what we cannot control are put in proper perspective. I am constantly learning this.

cally said...

Simple, complete perfection.

I don't usually comment when I lurk, but I want to share this with you. I've learned recently that keeping these experiences to myself is a selfish form of hoarding in order to protect myself from being judged or misunderstood, or being cheesy. But I'm risking it.

I've been in the dumps of the unfinished, trying to catch up and move forward, kiss the kids, serve selflessly, but feeling just...dumpy.

I've been praying, listening, reading, looking for something to bring me out of it. And feeling guilty for feeling rotten, because I have absolutely nothing to complain about. But yet, the dumps remained.

I have 50 things to do today during naptime and came to the computer real quick to put in some reciepts from a frustrating grocery trip where I spent too much money and came home with not much food. STuck my tongue out at the dirty floor on my way. I promised myself this morning I wouldn't get on the computer at all today, I would just work and work and work. No distractons.

So as I sat here I thought, you should check Natalie's blog. I just did a couple days ago, I don't need to. No, you shouldn't Don't enter blogland Cally! But I did.

A simple post from a stranger. And an simple, perfect reminder.

I'm grateful the Lord chooses how to answer prayers, not me. I'm grateful you, and Natalie, were listening, and were able to answer the silent prayer of others.

I'm grateful I'm not perfect, nor expected to be.

Thanks.

Kate said...

Thank you Jessie. I needed that!