Mortals Are Human, Too
“Certainly those who are less spiritually mature may indeed make serious mistakes—yet none of us should be defined only by the worst thing we have ever done.”
(2016–A:33, Kevin R. Duncan, “The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness.”)
Learning New Skills
The other day I watched my young friend Naomi, age six, practice the piano. She’s been taking lessons for about a year, and in that time I have seen her progress and improve dramatically. Of course there have been moments of her not wanting to practice, and when her mother did get her to sit down and practice, she would still rebel mightily against any implementing any suggested techniques or changes. In other words, she has been a pretty typical child during a complicated learning process.
I’m fairly certain there were days that her mother, Ann, was just as willing to throw in the towel as Naomi was to abandon the whole thing. It can’t have been easy to listen to consecutive wrong notes, fighting the process, and seeing little or no discernible progress day after day.
Yet here she is, a year later, practicing without being asked, playing with both hands, successfully sight reading new songs, and progressing at a rapid rate.
Perfection Doesn’t Happen Spontaneously
Rarely are we good at something we undertake the first time around. At least, I know I’m not.
And that doesn’t include just learning new skills like playing the piano. It could also be things like trying to fulfill a new calling. I think it’s not a unique experience to feel inadequate when we’re given a new assignment at church. In fact, we often speak of those new callings as a chance to stretch our capacity and learn new things.
Are we as patient with others in those new assignments as we are with ourselves? I know I am guilty of being impatient sometimes when, for a example, a new Sunday school teacher is called. I find myself expecting a new teacher to be as awesome as the previous one was, which is, of course, utterly unrealistic.
And if a new Sunday school teacher deserves our patience while she grows into that calling, then so does everyone else around us. This extends to the new nursery leader, as well as the general authorities.
Space to Be Human
Simply put, we are all simply mortals having human experiences, and must be granted space to make mistakes. We must not hold others to a higher stand than we hold ourselves.
There is a perfect example of this in the scriptures. In John 8:3-11 is the account of the woman taken into adultery. We are familiar with the famous words, “He is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Based on this example, we know we shouldn’t accuse others.
But I think the most important part is actually at the beginning in verse six: “But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” It is far easier to not “cast stones” at someone than it is to not even entertain the idea of someone’s shortcomings, be it from other critics or ourselves.
The Savior taught an invaluable lesson: be more interested in the person than the (alleged) problem.
The Merciful Obtain Mercy
In Luke 6:38, Jesus also taught, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. … For with the same measure that [you use] it shall be measured to you again.”
“Brothers and sisters, there is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.
“We are not perfect. The people around us are not perfect. [See Romans 3:23] People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.
“Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy,” April 2012.)
Let’s give each other space to be human. Not to encourage negative behavior, but as we love and accept them, we can teach a better, higher way, just as Jesus did.