The author lives in Utah, USA.
So many of us struggle to varying degrees with feeling like we aren’t enough or aren’t doing enough. At different times in my life, I’ve experienced this feeling. One of the most poignant of these times was near the end of my mission.
I was at one of my last mission conferences, and as he often did, my mission president shared a message he had received from a missionary. Sometimes the messages were funny, sometimes they were inspiring, and sometimes they proved a point. This message was probably meant to be inspiring, but instead it hit me hard. He shared how much this anonymous missionary appreciated her companion. He shared how much love and care this missionary felt from her companion and what an amazing example her companion was to this missionary. As I listened, I felt my soul stretch in such great longing to be like that companion. I desperately wished that I could be that caring and be that loving and do that much good. And then I felt myself collapse inside when I realized I wasn’t.
That wasn’t me, and it wouldn’t ever be me. There wasn’t even time for me to change, and if there was, I probably wouldn’t be able to anyway.
Later that day, after my companion and I were back in our apartment, she referred to the very part of our mission president’s address that had so thoroughly crushed me and confided that she had written that about me. Those were her words about me. I had been staring into an endless, dark void, wishing desperately to be the kind of person I wanted to be—and failing. But her words flipped on a light, and rather than an endless void, I was in front of a mirror looking at a reflection of myself as I already was. Her words meant so much to me. That she would even think I was half the kind of person she made me out to be in her letter filled me with joy.
I share this experience not to boast—it’s too meaningful to me to boast about—but to illustrate how unnecessarily (and often incorrectly) hard on ourselves we can be. I had used the very praise that was for me to beat myself up with!
This is also not to say that we can stop striving to be more Christlike. I didn’t think, “Cool, I can check off caring about people. Phew, don’t ever have to worry about that again.” But we need to recognize and acknowledge the progress we have made and that we are worth so much more than we sometimes think. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Too many go about their lives thinking they are of little worth when, in reality, they are elegant and eternal creatures of infinite value with potential beyond imagination.”1
So, please, stop a moment and take stock of the good you have done and the attributes you have developed or are on your way to developing. Remember that you are accepted, you are loved, and you are enough.
And if there are some things that you just really don’t feel like you’ve accomplished or attained, work on them. Don’t give up. By all means, set goals, but don’t impose limits to when you can become more Christlike—that’s what I did. I imagined a wall blocking me off from change after my mission, but even if those wonderful words hadn’t been about me, the end of my mission would not have meant that all hope of improving was over.
It’s not always an easy mindset to have—the mindset that we are enough. I still need reminders to not to be down on myself. But remember that your worth is great in the sight of God (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:10). Remember that you are a child of God, and remember that we, “as children of God, … should not demean or vilify ourselves.”2 Always strive to be more Christlike, but don’t beat yourself up over it. You might even be closer to who you want to be than you ever thought was possible.