“3 Things to Remember When You Feel Like You’re Falling Short,” Ensign, December 2018
I often wonder if my efforts to be obedient meet what sometimes feel like impossible standards of perfection. I’m always thinking of things I could do better, like making more time to read my scriptures or even practicing more self-control when I pass the ice cream in the frozen food section.
These may not seem like huge problems, but how can I know how to improve, especially when rocky road ice cream isn’t my biggest issue? And what difference will greater obedience truly make in my life?
Following Jesus Christ isn’t all about occasional leaps and bounds as much as it’s about daily progress. As Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy taught:
“We came [to earth] to learn and improve until we gradually become sanctified or perfected in Christ. …
“… As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher.”1
Every effort we make to be a little better improves our lives. Here are three approaches that have helped me be a little better each day.
Just as we can’t reach perfection without the Savior and His Atonement, we can’t improve our obedience without repentance. Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President, taught, “We can try to change our behavior on our own, but only the Savior can remove our stains and lift our burdens, enabling us to pursue the path of obedience with confidence and strength.”2 If you see a shortcoming in yourself that you want to change, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Identifying my own shortcomings can be overwhelming—I often don’t know where to start. We can pray to know what we need to change at this moment. Elder Lawrence taught: “The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say.”3 Although we don’t have to wait for promptings to be better, the Spirit can help us prioritize.
I am constantly amazed at how much Heavenly Father blesses me as I try to keep the commandments. I feel a substantial increase of peace and confidence whenever I raise the bar a little higher. President Russell M. Nelson promised: “As you continue to be obedient, … you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow.”4 Greater obedience will not only make you feel better about yourself and your decisions, but it will also open further opportunities for the Lord to bless you in ways you might not expect.
Heavenly Father knows our hearts, and He recognizes every effort we make to be obedient. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect tomorrow. Striving to do a little better each day—whether it’s cutting back on frozen treats or spending more time in the scriptures—will help us realize that all levels of progress are valuable and achievable.