They can’t figure out what is wrong with my car. This has proven itself to be troublesome, obviously, and stressful as I am not sure each time if it will start or not. I find myself walking to my car going, “Okay. Come on God – I really need it to start because I’m going ___ and I really need ___ and if ____ doesn’t happen then ____.” I sit down in the driver’s seat and turn the key. Then I throw up a heartfelt prayer of gratitude to the heavens that at least right then, I can continue on and I don’t have to solve another problem on my already much too long to-do list.
I drive a Landcruiser and part of why I love my car is it is a strong car. It’s strong in the snow, in every accident I’ve been in, it pulls things, and I feel safe in it. I value being strong and independent above almost anything else and have since I was little. But this year and this last week with my strong big poor little car, I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of being weak.
My late twenties have brought me a lot of things, but I think I always thought that at this point in my life I would be better. This past year I have found myself more face to face with my bad qualities and weaknesses than ever before, and as I’ve been thinking about this and coming to terms with my weak state, it’s almost been embarrassing at times. How can I still be so dang impatient? How can I still make people I care about cry? How can I still be so bad at getting in my religious studies, my daily exercise, and being vulnerable in relationships? Sometimes I come off as condescending and attacky when I don’t mean to be, and how many times does that have to happen until I can fix it? My weaknesses are abounding. And as I’ve been pondering these feelings closely this past week, I believe I have come to a couple important conclusions for me to rememeber: 1) being weak and inadequate is part of God’s plan 2) it’s when we are aware of being weak and needing help that we can be closest to God
A scripture about weakness that has come to my mind often is found in Ether in the Book of Mormon. It reads:
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
God’s grace is sufficient for every human that comes to Him wanting to be better. And I think for a long time I thought that if I do all that I’m supposed to and try to be like Christ and follow all the commandments eventually that last line will be true for me; He will make my weak things strong unto me. But this week as I’ve been contemplating my current state in my life, my job, my relationships, my desires and hopes, I’ve realized how beautiful and important the struggle can be. I don’t believe He will make my weak things strong and I’ll be on my own in my perfect state in this life. I don’t think I understood that things become strong WITH God because that’s what keeps us coming back to Him. If my car wasn’t broken, I wouldn’t be thinking about Him and praying near as much as I currently am. I pray to be better and then I try really hard and then feel like if I have enough faith I should be fine, but that isn’t exactly true. I often forget to include God in my struggle as I go along. When God commands us in Matthew to “Be ye therefore perfect” He is inviting us to do so not on our own, but by using the atonement of Christ daily as we fall short, because God knew we all would fail at being perfect on our own.
I don’t believe that anyone ever gets so good at reading the scriptures that one day they wake up and they have a perfect habit and schedule and never need any more help from Heavenly Father ever again. That’s not the point, in my opinion. If I include God in helping me be better at studying or my goals to be more serviceable etc., I feel more guided and more open to different things rather than hitting the same routine everyday effortlessly. God is mindful of our desires to be good, our failed attempts to change, and our smallest efforts to come unto Christ. And it’s with those that He makes up the difference. It’s not the back up plan if we’re not good enough. Repentance and continually needing God to help us is THE plan.
Elder Eyring often speaks of his father who died of cancer. In an article in 2015 he wrote referencing his dad:
“His parents had taught him by example to pray as if he spoke to God and that God would answer him in love. He needed that example to the end. When the pain became intense, we found him in the morning on his knees by the bed. He had been too weak to get back into bed. He told us he had been praying to ask his Heavenly Father why he had to suffer so much when he had always tried to be good. He said a kindly answer came: “God needs brave sons.” And so he soldiered on to the end, trusting that God loved him, listened to him, and would lift him up. He was blessed to have known early and to never forget that a loving God is as close as a prayer.”
It’s brave and important to keep going when trials are difficult and you don’t understand them and you are scared you might never become better. This realization for me has been disheartening sometimes. Feelings of loneliness and “who can love something that isn’t pretty and perfect” creep in and feel very real. But I believe that when we recognize our weakness and welcome continual help from God we become more empathetic, humble, and kind overall. Even if we still have moments far from those characteristics. In the end I would rather be mindfully and imperfectly walking with God, acutely aware of my weaknesses, than to be walking ignorantly and blindly without Him.
In the Velveteen Rabbit, one of my childhood favorite books, there is a quote that falls in line with these thoughts as two of the animals/toys in the story discuss the process of becoming real,
““You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
I hope to love people with the same forgiveness and understanding in which God loves me. Realizing that everyone’s process on becoming is different but probably equally as hard as mine in different ways. I’m grateful for the areas that are bringing me closer to God and hope to remember them as such and be kind to others and to myself as I go along my journey.