Our weaknesses aren’t meant to beat us down or make us discouraged. They can help us to eventually become strong.
During my freshman year of high school, I memorized—and promptly forgot—Ether 12:27: “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 helps you turn weaknesses into strengths. Whatever. I was fourteen years old and had no weaknesses of consequence.
At age nineteen, during my sophomore year of college, however, I realized that I had weaknesses. I decided that I wanted to do whatever Heavenly Father wanted me to do and fully believed that I could do it if I absolutely knew it came from him. But I quickly learned I was too scared to do some of the things I knew I should. I was devastated by my inabilities and glaring weakness.
I had come unto Christ, and he had certainly showed me my weakness as promised.
Later that year, I set goals to overcome my fears in various aspects of my life. I gave blood despite the terror of needles and my abnormally small veins. I decided what to major in, despite my anxiety over the foreign language requirement. I set a goal to talk to more people at church despite my aversion to starting conversations and my never knowing what to say. I often felt lonely there but figured that I could help others to not feel that way.
These may be simple matters for some people, but they weren’t for me. These are some of the weaknesses that God had given me. And I could not conquer them alone. I prayed, struggled, cried (not a usual occurrence for me), and received priesthood blessings. I failed sometimes, tried again, and sometimes even failed again. But I found tremendous, incredible success too.
I have since donated nearly two gallons of blood, but not without some anxiety and some minor mishaps. I survived sixteen credits of German. I did not receive the best grades, but I didn’t let my fear prevent me from pursuing the degree I wanted. I served a mission. The trepidation of talking to strangers all day every day nearly paralyzed me sometimes, but it ended up being a small price to pay for the joy, satisfaction, spirit, and everlasting friendships I received in return.
As President Thomas S. Monson says, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.”
Without our fears, we cannot be courageous. When we truly feel accountable for the covenants we make, we begin to feel the weight of our weaknesses. But without that weight, we cannot have the motivation we need to conquer those shortcomings. And the greatest miracle of it all is not what God’s grace enables us to do—but what it enables us to become.
Read Moroni’s full discourse on faith in Ether 12 to discover how you can learn from your weaknesses.
Source: The Book of Mormon
—Allie Bowen, Mormon Insights
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Find more insights
Read Joseph Smith’s revelation about John the Beloved’s vision of how Christ set the example for eternal progression.
Watch or read “Notwithstanding My Weakness” to discover what Elder Neal A. Maxwell suggests as we deal with discouragement.
“And the greatest miracle of it all is not what God’s grace enables us to do—but what it enables us to become.” God doesn’t need us to accomplish his work, but he chooses to use us because he knows it will help us grow. The miracle is that God can create something amazing from something imperfect.
I love this. I have always liked the scripture Jacob 4:6-7. I think it is important to recognize all the good we can do and how far we have become. It is also important to realize that all of our talents come from God and that it is by His grace that we can do all that we can.
I think one of the guiding premises of this idea of self-improvement with divine help is the understanding that change and progress come piece by piece, step by step. At different phases of life, God is able to help us find new ways to improve ourselves. So we don’t have to be discouraged that we don’t have it all figured out yet; he is patient with our weaknesses as he helps us overcome them, so we need to be just as patient with ourselves.
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