Today’s vices can be subtle, dangerous, and lethal—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The scriptures warn us in detail that during the last days even the very elect may be deceived. But even then, we sometimes underestimate their power.
When we measure ourselves by way of others, we are comparing the colloquial apples against oranges. We are different than others, just like one artist’s work is different from another. It’s not better or worse. It’s different.
For example, how can one compare the works of a modern artist like Picasso with that of the American classic, Norman Rockwell? The music of Beethoven cannot be equated with that of One Direction . They are completely different. One can prefer the works of one artist over another, but we can’t rightfully say one is better than the other. They are simply different. Some expressions are on canvas and others are made in stone. Still others find their nirvana and fulfillment in music, melody, and lyrics. Different is not better or worse. It’s unique, distinctive, singular, and often irreplaceable.
Similarly our talents are varied, but our value is consistently, forever high—not based on performance.
I love the analogy of a child practicing the piano by Brad Wilcox. He states that if our mothers didn’t require us to practice, then we would never become pianists. He draws from this analogy the lesson that if Jesus didn’t require us to practice, then we would never become the people we are destined to be. Yet we aren’t being judged only on who we are right now. We’re not finished yet. He continues by expressing our concerns:
“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?
Too many are giving up on the Church because they are tired of constantly feeling like they are falling short. They have tried in the past, but they always feel like they are just not good enough. They don’t understand grace.
Perhaps this rings true to me because my home is filled with music from my children practicing their musical instruments. What instruments they use or how long they have been playing is irrelevant. The point is that they are practicing—not delivering the final performance. That’s for later when practicing is complete.
And so it is for our friends struggling with low self-respect, depression, anxiety, and self-esteem challenges. Everyone is worthwhile, deserving of appreciation, respect, and dignity. These values are God-given rights for every one of his children. Every person is a child of God, and as such is worthy of honor, admiration, and awe. But external forces will tell you that you’re not good enough. You’re deficient, incapable, and inferior.
But those are wicked lies. Without having ever met you, I can still say that you are superior, chosen, elite, and royal. Who should you believe? You needn’t just take my word for it. What has God said?
President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke about the excellence of mankind way back in 1999. In part, he said the following:
Tremendous is your opportunity to reach beyond the hoped-for goal of wealth and worldly success, though that may have some modest importance, to build and strengthen others, to relieve suffering, and aid in making the world a better place.
God’s very purpose is to bring to pass your immortality and eternal life. Of all God’s creations, he saved the very best for last when he created woman—our mothers, sisters, and daughters.
Not only are you good enough, you are God’s masterpiece.
God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, You Matter to Him, General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 2014).
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.