Happy Sunday to you all! Below you will see the transcript of the talk I was assigned to read, reflect, pray, and base my talk on (just click the link). The words that follow are my own, and are what I plan to say this morning during Sacrament Meeting. I am going to speak 2nd I believe. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my words and if you have any advice for next time or comments feel free to comment below. Much love to you and yours this Sunday!
Be ye therefore perfect…. Eventually (English- by Elder Holland)
It is said that cleanliness is next to Godliness, so with that saying in mind, two young children by the names of Nicholas and Susan set out to make their mother proud.
She had, as many mothers do, set a list of chores for her young children, eight and eleven, to complete. These chores were displayed on a large family board in the kitchen. The chores varied in difficulty from making one’s bed to returning videos to the shelf in the order of genre and then alphabetically. As they completed their list, their mother worked on her own more complex list of chores, also displayed on the board in the kitchen. Once anyone finished a chore, be it mother or son, they would go to the board and check off a task.
This made the children feel a sense of accomplishment, and even mother could be seen smiling while checking off one more item on her list.
Nick and Susie noticed one afternoon that mother’s list was much larger than usual. They were to have guests come to stay later that week and mother had a long list of things to do to “get ready.” Wanting to help mother, Nick and Susie decided to tackle one of mother’s chores together. After all, being 8 and 11 year olds they knew a thing or two about getting chores done!
They decided to skip the chores that were confusing like “descaling the Keruig,” which did not have scales to begin with (mom would have to explain that one later), and move to things they understood like “collecting Susie’s dirty clothes to wash,” and “washing blankets for guests.”
So Susie and Nick went about filling their baskets with dirty clothes and hauling them to the laundry room. Picking up their markers they proudly checked off each of these chores from mother’s list.
Giddy with pride, Nicholas turned to Susan and asked if she was up for one more of Mom’s chores. Mother had taught him how to wash a load of his clothes last week. He knew to fill up the washer half way with his clothes and add one small scoop of detergent and how to set and turn on the machine. He was reasonably confident that they could complete the next item on the list, “Wash blankets for guests.”
They took off for the living room, scooping two throws up off the couch and Lazy Boy recliner, and dashed, blankets in tow to the guest room. Jumping onto the bed, they tossed the pillows in shams to the floor and peeled off the comforter and under blanket. They dragged their blankets to the laundry room and put the comforter into the washer. Looking at the two blankets, so small compared to the comforter, they decided to add them both, but leave the under blanket for another load.
They both pushed in the blankets and Nick added the soap and turned the washer onto full load, cold water.
Giddy once again, they sped off to check off this latest chore and complete the rest of their chores in the meantime.
Mother came inside from her outside chores and began to make everyone lunch when it happened. *Bam! Bam! Bam!* Puzzled at the sound, she opened up the laundry room door.
In she walked, splashing through a rather large puddle to a very overloaded, unbalanced washing machine. Opening the lid, she discovered soggy wet blankets covered in little gray…. feathers?
Before her in the machine was a soup of light pink and red blankets swimming in gray goose down. Quickly turning off the machine she wrestled out a heavy, wet, and formerly white goose down comforter, a deep red fleece blanket, and a brown kitted throw. Using all her upper body strength, she sloshed them into an empty clothing basket. Turning to the machine, she drained the water and knew that each little feather would need to be scooped out and thrown away before she could start another load.
“What would the feathers do to her machine, the ones that escaped with the water?” Mother thought, “and for that matter, why were blankets in the wash to begin with?!”
Walking out of the laundry room to collect herself, she looked out to the chore board. There were two red and green checks on her line. Walking closer she saw that her children had collected their laundry, check check, and washed the blankets, double check.
Putting her thumb and forefinger to the bridge of her nose she stood with her eyes closed processing what had obviously happened to her laundry room.
Calling out for her children, they ran happily into the room.
“Mommy! Did you see! We helped! We got all the blankets down, it was hard!” Susan said happily dancing in place, full of energy.
“I measured out the soap and then set the washer just like you taught me.” Nicholas said proudly, standing up straight with his chest slightly puffed out.
Looking at her two excited and unwitting comforter destroyers, mother couldn’t help but smile.
She sat them down at the counter and gave them each a glass of milk and thanked them for their hard work. She praised their willingness to help and then, asked them to come into the laundry room.
Surveying the water, the feathers, and the sopping wet pink and red blankets, the children were confused. Nicholas realized first that before him was the aftermath of what they would years later call “Comforter Gate.”
Mother placed her hands on each child’s shoulders and told them she was still very proud of them for helping, but she need some more help to clean this up. Then, she would show them the right way to wash comforters, at the laundromat, and the blankets at home. “Together,” she said, “we can make this right.”
And they did.
We can’t expect everything in life to fit into a chart and if it did, how often would our plans be interrupted with red and green checks amongst our rows of black checks? In life we strive to be perfect as we were commanded to strive to be. That in itself can be so intimidating, “Be ye therefore perfect,” as Elder Holland said is enough to put someone off reading early morning scriptures for the rest of their early mornings!
We all know that perfection is not something any of us can achieve. Only through Heavenly Father can we be gifted with perfection. It’s something we have to be given. We will never achieve it on our own. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for it.
The children in the story did not know how to do the laundry. They had an idea and with good hearts and some background knowledge, they went forward hoping for success, for perfection. What a wonderful thought they had! Only, it didn’t work out. How could their mother, even after seeing such a mess, not feel pride in her children for trying? For striving for something good for to show her what they could do and what they had learned because of her. Let me tell you not all children are eager to do chores for their parents.
Are we not like Susan and Nicholas, going through our lives the very best we can, striving for perfection? Heavenly Father knows, just as the Mother in our story did, that we don’t yet have all the tools we need to get the job perfectly done but don’t you think in trying we are reaching up and saying, “We can, we are here, we love you and we are trying?” How can that be a bad thing?
Yet, I see around me daily people who do beat themselves down for any effort less that perfect. I am so extremely thankful that Heavenly Father is in charge. Can you imagine being judged on your efforts by a human being? More and more people are trying to skip or discount the journey and only want to bask in the successes. Even worse, less and less people are stopping on the road to success to guide others up to the top with them.
Mother could have yelled at the kids, I can remember that. Yeah I can remember never doing something like that again, and I remember the shame in trying. But is that the way? To shame people for trying?
In the story mother took the time to stop, think it through, and teach so that Susan and Nicholas didn’t just fail. She took the time to teach them the skills to try again, understand they made a mistake and she pulled them up towards success instead of grinding them down into their wet feathery failure. She didn’t placate, she didn’t level with them. She told them how much she appreciated the effort and then took the time to explain, yes, yes you did fail but let me help you succeed next time.
How often throughout the Bible and the Book of Mormon does Heavenly Father help his children before, during, and after failure to raise them up in knowledge to try again? How often did he smite those who stopped trying and wallowed iniquity? Heavenly Father never just said, “Here’s the answer and I smoothed our the path for you and by the way here’s how you gain perfection.” No, no, time and again people in these scriptures worked, and struggled, fell, and rose until they learned and strove along the right path and even then, they had to struggle more! In trying we learn. In trying we become. It’s a challenge, “Be ye therefore perfect,” because if we keep in the right and never give up l, someday we will be perfect, we only have to continue to try.