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Dear Gramps,

How do you know when you have done “all that you can do”? I confess to be a perfectionist and worry-wart. I have high expectations of myself and others. I want to do all that I can do. But I also don’t want to ignore the gift of the atonement. I bounce back and forth between worrying that I am not doing enough or all that I can do and that I am not fully accepting and grateful for the infinite sacrifice that Jesus made for all. I heard these same worries expressed by my friend in scripture study last week. Will you please offer some wise words to help us make peace with these troublesome worries?

Nina

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Answer

 

Dear Nina,

I think it’s great to be a perfectionist, if you will accept yourself as being not yet perfect. But to strive for perfection at the expense of output is counterproductive. One would be less perfect spending all one’s time on perfecting minutia, than producing a less perfect but practical output. So one must balance perfectionism with practicality.

Richard L. Evans, who was the voice for the tabernacle choir years ago, in one of his sermonets said,

“To Joseph Smith, at a time when he seemed impatient to move faster than circumstances permitted, the Lord said: Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided … but be diligent unto the end (Doctrine and Covenants 10:4). That we shall go quickly or that we shall perform spectacularly is not important, but that we shall safely and surely move from hour to hour and day to day, and that we shall not lose the way, are things vital to all men who would realize their highest possibilities” (Improvement Era 1941).

In your question you are talking about two different things that may not be directly related. We accept the Savior’s sacrifice by repenting of wrong doing, not by producing output. So if we are living a pure life with respect to obedience to the principles of the gospel, we are indeed accepting the Savior’s sacrifice. To be perfect in following the Savior it is required that we forget ourselves in the service of others. This means that our thoughts and our attention are not directed toward introspection, but rather toward the welfare of others There would then not really be room for the kinds of questions that you ask. They just would not come up, because you would be thinking about something else.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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