Today in my Book of Mormon class we watched a BYU devotional from 1990 given by Steven Robinson and it was just what I needed to hear. Robinson wrote the book "Believing Christ" which talks about how we can't just believe in Christ, but we need to believe him when he says what he will do for us and his devotional address followed in that vein. He told stories that illustrated how frequently we don't feel adequate or "perfect" as is often stressed in our culture, but that we're not expected to be perfect in this life. All Christ and Heavenly Father ask of us is to do and be the best we can be.
While I've always known that, today while watching that recording, it brought it all home to me. I think especially within the Church, people miscontrue the commandment to "be perfect," thinking they have to accomplish that here in this life. In Robinson's devotional, he said that as a bishop he came across a man who said "I'm just not celestial material," which is a feeling I think we've all experienced, but Robinson's response was "Of course you're not! None of us are celestial material and that's what the Atonement is for." He told a story about his daughter who wanted a bicycle, but only had a few cents saved. She gave her dad all that she had and he bought her the bicycle. The following quote is in reference to that anecdote.
"We all want something desperately—it isn’t a bicycle. We want the celestial kingdom. We want to be with our Father in Heaven. And no matter how hard we try, we come up short. At some point we realize, “I can’t do this!” That was the point my wife had reached. It is at that point that the sweetness of the gospel covenant comes to our taste as the Savior proposes, “I’ll tell you what. All right, you’re not perfect. How much do you have? What can you do? Where are you now? Give me all you’ve got, and I’ll pay the rest. Give me a hug and a kiss; enter into a personal relationship with me, and I will do what remains undone.” "
It's so easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed with all we feel we must do. I couldn't help but think of Jill's post about extraordinary versus ordinary when I started thinking about this and I realized some epiphanous things. It's been an interesting transition for me this school year because when I was in high school, I was, in the definition we've been using, "extraordinary." I earned the extraordinary grades and everybody knew who I was; I was a textbook example of a big fish in a small pond. Once I got to BYU however, I quickly realized that everyone was just like me in the "extraordinary" sense and then all of a sudden what was extraordinary suddenly became simply ordinary. Everyone plays the piano, everyone plays the violin, everyone was valedictorian, everyone was everything I was. All of a sudden you're placed in a situation when you don't feel needed for your talents because it's just as easy to find someone who can do exactly the same thing as well or better anyway. This new dynamic in which I find myself provokes a change of attitude, a change of thought, and a change in the way I see myself.
I feel I've always had a good grasp on my identity and coming to a place where my person as displayed to the world is relatively insignificant, I realize how important it is that I know myself. It's actually kind of nice sometimes to be able to not have that peer expectation I experienced so much in high school. Now I really only have expectations for myself, because in all honesty, I'm really the only one who cares. This has been an interesting experience for me and one I'm glad I've been able to have. I love being able to accomplish something without my peers peeking over my shoulder waiting to see if I can do it. Being "ordinary" to me is quite an extraordinary thing!