One of my absolute favorite talks from this past October general conference was by Elder Ulisses Soares of the 70:
In the weeks since conference, I have found myself returning time and again to this talk as it really hit upon all of the things that I am trying to work (at times unsuccessfully to develop in myself).
I love that Elder Soares acknowledged that such transformation of character does not happen in an instant
“We are blessed to be born with the seed of meekness in our hearts. We need to understand that it is not possible to grow and develop that seed in the twinkling of an eye but rather through the process of time. Christ asks us to “take up [our] cross daily,” meaning that it must be a constant focus and desire.”
Each of us will continue to slowly grow more and more Christ like over time so long as we continue on the pathway of discipleship. As we strive, the Holy Ghost over time will sanctify and purify us…
What counts is that we continue to strive to perfect ourselves over time….
“President Lorenzo Snow, the fifth prophet of our dispensation, taught, “It is our duty to try to be perfect, … to improve each day, and look upon our course last week and do things better this week; do things better today than we did them yesterday.” So the first step to becoming meek is to improve day by day. Each day we need to try to be better than the previous as we move forward through this process.
President Snow added:
“We have our little follies and our weaknesses; we should try to overcome them as fast as possible, and … should [instill] this feeling in the hearts of our children … that they may learn to [behave] properly before Him under all circumstances.
“If the husband can live with his wife one day without quarrelling or without treating anyone unkindly or without grieving the Spirit of God … ; he is so far perfect. Then let him try to be the same the next day. But supposing he should fail in this his next day’s attempt, that is no reason why he should not succeed in doing so the third day.”
I found this quote incredibly encouraging. Each day when we are able to resist the natural inclination to anger or fight or quarrel is a victory. Each time we are able to overcome to the natural man we are perfect in that instance. This quote has helped me savor each small victory even as I continue to experience failure. I am grateful to God each time I feel a little more charitable than before… Without such a perspective, I don’t think change could come.
Indeed, I think that God knows we will fail at times… He sees our struggles and knows our heart and in due time gives us the strength we need. He enlarges our capacity to love and builds our Christ-like attributes. This process takes time and we should not get discouraged.
Elder Soares conclusion testimony in particular really touched me:
“I bear my witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I testify to you that, thanks to His love, it is possible to change. It is possible to leave our weaknesses behind. It is possible to reject the evil influences in our lives, control our anger, become meek, and develop the attributes of our Savior. He showed us the way. He gave us the perfect example and commanded each one of us to become as He is. His invitation to us is to follow Him, follow His example, and become like Him. Of these truths I bear testimony in His sacred name, even Jesus Christ, amen.”
I often need the reminder that change truly is possible. As many times as I keep making the same mistakes and failing to overcome the natural man, God continues to be with me helping me change. That change is only possible thanks to the love of Jesus Christ. Without his atonement I know that I would be stuck. I wouldn’t be able to progress. As slow as progress is even now, without him it would be impossible.
Upon acknowledging our dedication and perseverance, the Lord will give us that which we are not able to attain due to our imperfections and human weaknesses.