Life can be difficult. To many it can seem almost too difficult.
There is always a challenge to meet and overcome before the next one comes. Some challenges are hard to handle and some are more bearable. We all look forward and hope someday to reach what we call “perfection.” Yet in the entire history of mankind, there has been only one living soul who ever attained that lofty state of perfection: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Jesus Christ was perfect before He dwelt on Earth, and then He completed His Father’s mission here on Earth with total perfection. The legacy to us of His monumental work is eternal life to those who continue seeking perfection — or in other words, we are to work to become like Him. The Savior even commanded us to “[b]e ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
We are all imperfect beings and will always be so until we finish our work here on the earth and return to our Father in Heaven. Until then we will always be struggling in a constant effort to overcome our weaknesses an imperfections. The great promise we have been given is the knowledge that through our attitudes and work ethic, we can overcome or learn to cope with most of our weaknesses. In making the effort to improve ourselves, we become stronger. A weightlifter never will gain the strength he desires to compete in his field if he simply thinks about it and makes no effort to constantly lift heavier and heavier weights. All his struggles are not in vain — they make him stronger.
The imperfections we must overcome are not all the same. Some of us are born with physical deficiencies, like loss of limbs or a congenital problems that limit our physical or mental growth. Others have physical impairments come to them either by illness or accident. For many of us to achieve any degree of proficiency or skill in this life, we must expend great effort to overcome these limitations. Very few people achieve greatness without extreme devotion to their cause, and practice makes perfect. Whatever effort we chose to make will improve us and will always bear fruit.
History has shown us that physical or mental limitations do not mean we cannot grow and rise above them. Emma Smith, Joseph Smith’s wife, was quoted as saying that Joseph at the time of the translating of the Book of Mormon could hardly write a grammatically correct sentence, let alone the entire Book of Mormon. Yet it did not stop this largely self-educated man from writing countless letters and articles during his short life.
For another example, look to the great prophet and leader Moses. For forty years he led his people in the wilderness and gave us the first five books of the Bible. Yet he could not speak well in public — so the Lord gave him Aaron to speak for him. His inability to speak never prohibited him from doing the Lord’s work in a monumental way.
Finally, in our own day, who cannot learn from the example of Helen Keller? Born blind and deaf, she was destined to remain in a cocoon of darkness and solitude with no contact with the world around her. But she had the sense of touch and used it to communicate with the outside world. She learned to use her fingers to tap out her thoughts in a form of braille. In doing so, she changed the whole world.
The greatest challenge we have in life is to do the absolute best with what we have. That is all God asks of us. For many years I have had a comic strip mounted on my office wall. It’s a piece by Johnny Hart from his B.C. comic strip series which runs in most newspapers daily. I look at it often because it has changed my life. It is the most perfect explanation of this desire we all must have to do the best we can with what we have.
In the strip, an old handicapped man sits under a tree. He has one good leg and a one peg leg. The captions read:
I’m thankful that I have one leg.
To limp is no disgrace.
Although I can’t be number one
I can still run the race.
It’s not the things you cannot do,
That makes you what you are,
It’s doing good with what you’ve got
That lights the morning star.
To all of us who feel somehow crippled and as though we are running too slowly in life’s race, let us remember: “It’s doing good with what you’ve got that lights the morning star.” Never give up. The world always needs another morning star.
George Domm was born and raised in upstate New York around historical LDS sites such as the Hill Cumorah and Palmyra. He was very familiar with the Church long before he was baptized in 1959. Soon after joining, he found himself serving a full-time mission for the Church in Berlin, Germany. That was his first of four missions! George currently lives in American Fork, UT with his wife, Margaret, and busies himself trying to keep up with their 11 children and 42 grandchildren. He loves to do family history and play golf with "all the old men in our neighborhood." His goal is to one day shoot his age, 74.