Blog: Perfected In My Imperfections

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Something I’m working on right now is enjoying where I am and recognizing myself for what it took to get us here. ~ So often, we’re 5 miles ahead… dreaming of the next thing, planning the big change or wishing now was somehow different than it is… but I PROMISE YOU, if you stop for a moment and really look around, there’s plenty to be really proud of, excited about, and grateful for, in the here and now! And you deserve some credit for getting yourself there! ~ Maybe you had to overcome some really big stuff to get to where you are—take a moment to feel a little pride and gratitude! Or…Maybe you’re in the thick of hard stuff now… Take note—YOU’RE surviving! So, celebrate yourself for not giving up! ~ Wherever you are, whatever your story, YOU’RE DOING A GOOD JOB. You’re showing up for what you’ve been dealt, and that, in and of itself, says something significant! ~ When we express our healthy, humble pride (recognition of something awesome in our lives), we increase our gratitude and our joy! ⚡SO tell me something you’re proud of in the comments below. Seriously! YES, YOU. There isn’t a single person out there who doesn’t have ONE THING in their life that they’re proud of! And for crying out loud, I wanna hear about it. ❤❤👇🏼

A post shared by Natalie Norton (@natalienorton) on

 

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This post is also heavily influenced by my faith, which is LDS.
No intent to “convert” anyone or even preach doctrine.
I just hope you’ll read on and hear me out in my perspective.

I want to echo what Natalie says on her Instagram post here.

We all have crazy experiences that accumulate to become the composition of who we are. Everyone has a history. Everyone has a story. Many of us have a struggle that might be more painful than others can imagine.

Yet, I think we might all be able to look around and be proud of how far we have come, how strong we are for the things we have endured, and our capacity to keep going.

Sometimes, I have days when I don’t know how I’m going to get up and face another day. But then, I hear my kids playing and laughing in the other room, and I just don’t want to miss enjoying their sweet, sweet faces. I may still have a long way to go, but I am so grateful for how far I’ve come.

It’s tempting to sometimes look at how far I still have to go and get down on myself. There’s so much I want to learn, so much work yet to do, and I get overwhelmed and I begin to doubt.

Gordon B. Hinckley once said “You have not failed until you give up.”

In the book, “Outwitting the Devil” by Napoleon Hill I learned that struggle is just a stepping stone if you just keep getting up and trying again. You don’t fail unless you quit trying.

Lynn G. Robbins said, “Mistakes are a fact of life. Learning to skillfully play the piano is essentially impossible without making thousands of mistakes—maybe even a million. To learn a foreign language, one must face the embarrassment of making thousands of mistakes—maybe even a million. Even the world’s greatest athletes never stop making mistakes.
‘Success,’ it has been said, ‘isn’t the absence of failure, but going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.’1 “With his invention of the light bulb, Thomas Edison purportedly said, ‘I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.’2 Charles F. Kettering called failures ‘finger posts on the road to achievement.’3 Hopefully, each mistake we make becomes a lesson in wisdom, turning stumbling blocks into stepping-stones” (“Until Seventy Times Seven”, April 2018).

In one of my favorite speeches given at Brigham Young University by Brad Wilcox, (who I had the privilege of interviewing), he said, “there should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives” (“His Grace is Sufficient” July 12, 2011).

Neal A. Maxwell offers his advice for how to manage our feelings of inadequacy. Feeling bad about ourselves or our struggles isn’t meant to keep us down. He said: “We can distinguish more clearly between divine discontent and the devil’s dissonance, between dissatisfaction with self and disdain for self. We need the first and must shun the second, remembering that when conscience calls to us from the next ridge, it is not solely to scold but also to beckon.”

We are meant to work on ourselves and to progress.

Maxwell said, “Men finally climbed Mount Everest, not by standing at its base in consuming awe, but by shouldering their packs and by placing one foot in front of another. Feet are made to move forward—not backward!”

I know anxiety gets a bad rap for making us feel pretty junky. I know I feel that way sometimes a lot. But, a little bit of anxiety is necessary sometimes. Jacob (in The Book of Mormon) says he learned how to guide his people because of anxiety: “For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them (Jacob 1:5). And, don’t we all need a touch of anxiety to care about our family and their safety?? But, the problem comes from when we take our anxiety a little too far.

But, Neal A. Maxwell has advice for this, too: “The scriptural advice, ‘Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength’ (D&C 10:4) suggests paced progress, much as God used seven creative periods in preparing man and this earth. There is a difference, therefore, between being ‘anxiously engaged’ and being over-anxious and thus underengaged” (“Notwithstanding My Weakness”, Oct 1976).

I know this is an issue I struggle with. I get so overwhelmed, get decision paralysis, and feel overstimulated that I shut down! A little bit of anxiety compels us forward. Too much anxiety is the antithesis of progress.

We progress on this journey in bite-sized chunks. One thing may feel like a failure, but was leading you down another path that was actually the right one!

I wonder about this concept a lot because of experiencing failure and rejection ad nauseam. I wonder if they are not actually pushing me down a road that will lead me to my true purpose.

For eight years, Michael and I were going down a path questioning to ourselves whether we were doing the right thing or not. We learned that there are times when God may let us explore a path so that we can learn for ourselves the lessons we need for our growth, and also to learn what the wrong path feels like. We have our agency, which means that God wants us to learn how to make good choices, and listen for His guidance. Let this video illustrate what I mean:

Eight years sounds like a long time to endure the wrong path. It is. But, I’m also learning that I’d rather learn my lessons in eight or ten years than thirty or forty years. It has been a long struggle, but on this path of learning and discerning, we have come a long way. I feel like God is peeling away the layers of imperfection, selfishness, doubt, fear, and pain; chipping away at flaws. I’m still a shapeless lump of clay (literally and figuratively, ha!), but I know God sees the masterpiece underneath. As long as I’m in a partnership with Him, I know I’ll see it someday, too.

 

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