In October of 1976, Neal A. Maxwell addressed the Saints of the Church. He spoke “to those who carry their own load and more, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short.” When considering the great distance between our current state and the exacting doctrines taught by the Church and the Savior, perhaps we may feel as anxious disciples of old, “Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26.) I’d like to reference several points Elder Maxwell makes in his talk on how we can combat feelings of inadequacy:
- Even God used seven periods to create man and the earth. We can pace our progress.
- There is a difference between being “anxiously engaged” and being over-anxious and thus under-engaged.
- Remember Peter, who briefly walked on water before requiring rescue from Jesus’ outstretched hand. Later, Peter stretched out his own hand to Tabitha after helping to restore her life (Acts 9:36-46).
- Change our perspective and contemplate how far we’ve already come in the climb along the pathway to perfection; it is usually much farther than we acknowledge.
- Accept help, and gladly give it. In the economy of heaven, God does not send thunder if a still, small voice is enough, or a prophet if a priest can do the job.
- Write down and act upon more of the daily small revelations regarding resolutions and resolves for self-improvement that we so often leave to another day.
- Admit that no human circle is so small that it does not touch another, and another.
- We can put our hand to the plow, looking neither back nor around. Our gifts and opportunities differ; some are just more visible than others.
- We can add to each other’s storehouse of self-esteem by giving deserved, specific commendation. Remember, too, that those who are breathless from going the extra mile need deserved praise just as the fallen need to be lifted up.
- After all, we can keep moving. God is more concerned with growth than with geography. Feet are made to move forward- not backward!
Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage. Truly, at the center of our agency is the freedom to form a healthy attitude towards whatever circumstances we are placed in. Such an attitude gives us the courage to overcome feelings of inadequacy and press forward grace to grace, notwithstanding our weakness.