Mormons are expert worriers. We worry about the family, work and pretty much anything else we can cram onto our “to-worry-about” lists. Some things are justifiably worrisome, others are not. Here are four things we Mormons tend to needlessly fret over:
1. Getting an “A” in life
This might seem counter intuitive, but bear with me. Getting A’s is, of course, an awesome thing—but that’s not what life is about. Straight A’s for everyone was Lucifer’s plan. It’s never been part of God’s plan.
Life isn’t about getting A’s, it’s about applying the material. That’s a hard concept to digest since simply getting A’s has been pounded into our heads since elementary school. But God is one of those teachers that requires us to learn to live in a heavenly way. He expects us to apply what we know, not just fill in the correct bubble on a celestial version of the ACT (which sounds awful). Consider what Brad Wilcox said back in 2011:
Scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God (see Alma 40:26), but, brothers and sisters, no unchanged thing will even want to. . . . Heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.
Brother Wilcox seems to suggest that our final “grade” is largely decided by ourselves. God wants everyone to end up in his presence at the end of it all, but if someone spent their time learning to enjoy evil in this life, why would that person ever want to spend eternity with God? We would do well to stop worrying about grades and start living a Christlike life.
2. Feelings of inadequacy
There’s a lot going on in the Mormon Church. Callings, auxiliary programs, scripture reading, church/meeting attendance, Family Home Evening, Cub Scouts, choir practice and sign-up sheets galore. This makes the Church a breeding ground for discouraged members who don’t feel they’re living up to expectations. That’s totally understandable, but it doesn’t need to be this way.
The only expectations we need to worry about are God’s expectation for us. And He doesn’t expect perfection, yet.
Comparing ourselves to others is another quick way to become disappointed with ourselves. Let’s stop beating ourselves up for not being Sister Tunacasserole who seems to do everything right and still has time to bake cinnamon rolls for the whole class. She’s not perfect either.
“Thou shalt constantly compare thyself to others to determine thy worth,” said God never.
Allowing feelings of inadequacy from these sources to overwhelm us only exhibits our misunderstanding of Christ’s sacrifice and our purpose here (which we’ll get more into soon). Remember,
Your inherent worth is not tied to your productivity. You are valuable just because you are you. God doesn’t love you because you’re doing a decent job–he loves you in spite of whatever kind of job you’re doing. Yes, it’s important to do the best that you can, and it is important to strive to improve, but not because those things determine our worth.
Your best is enough for God. Don’t worry too much about the rest.
3. Sharing the gospel
Remember the last time you saw a great movie and whenever you saw any of your friends you were like, “Dude, Coco was awesome. You should take your family to it when you get the chance. Five dollar Tuesdays are just around the corner. It’s got such a great message. Sure, it’s got a 21-minute-long Frozen short film at the beginning which was kind of annoying, but the actual film was great.”
Why don’t we act just as excited about sharing the gospel? The scenarios are surprisingly similar, except the Frozen short film is actually the chance of getting called as Girls Camp Director. Yikes.
If we love the gospel, which we do, sharing it with others should come as a natural result of living it. We would do well to stop worrying about what our friends might think or do if they know we’re disciples of Christ.
4. Repentance/talking to the bishop
Originally the title for this section was just going to be “Repentance,” but that’s only part of the problem. In most cases, repentance isn’t that painful of an experience. It’s usually a process that involves only yourself and God. But every once in a while we might slip up (or think we’ve slipped up) and need to chat it out with the bishop. We start to worry about the embarrassment of it all. We start to worry about how the bishop’s perception of us might change.
And what if talking to the bishop brings about unwanted consequences? What if I can’t take the sacrament? What if I can’t go on a mission or get married in the temple?
Let’s listen to Brad Wilcox again who makes a powerful comparison between working towards perfection and learning how to play the piano:
‘But Brother Wilcox, don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.’ Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?
. . . 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.
Let’s make an effort to change our paradigm of repentance. When we sin in the future, let’s git r done and move on (the “r” stands for repentance). Practice makes perfect.