Have you ever wished someone would see how hard you are trying? That they could appreciate the breadth of your honest effort? I have often wished for that during problems in relationships.
This morning I felt that wish in a smaller moment. I was making hard boiled eggs and pancakes. I was also biting grapes in half for Noelle (age 1) who was yelling that she’d please like something more substantial. I was trying to convince Isaac to finish his kindergarten homework page even though he thinks it is too easy. Henry really wanted me to listen to his song that he made up (Isaac is an awesome guy, awesome guy, awesome guy…) and Elijah was working on his newly-learned fractions homework. So, a normal morning.
But as the requests for my attention peppered my own tasks, my frustration mounted.
“Mama, listen to my song. Mama, listen!!”
“This is toooooooo eaaaaaaasssssy! Do I have to do this?”
“Mama! I need help! Is it 1/2? Is it? Or is it 1/4? MA. MAH!!!
“WAAAAAAA” (translation: I refuse to eat these grapes)
I answered what I could. But as certain children became more upset that their need was not being met immediately, I stopped everything and said: “Do you SEE that I am trying my very, very hardest to make everyone breakfast and help everyone with their things? Do you see that I am trying?”
Isaac was the first to change his tune. “Mama, you are the best Mama in the world. Thanks for making me pancakes.” Awww.
From there everyone chilled out a bit and we made it out the door. (Well, we missed the bus. Sigh. But then Joseph offered to take them to school today on his day off. So now I can write a s’more! He is so nice.)
I thought about the huge difference of the children seeing their own perspective verses the children stopping to see, “wow, mama is doing a lot right now.” It drastically affected their behavior.
I thought about the huge difference of how I felt when the children were only worried about their needs verses the children seeing my sincere efforts to help everyone at the same time. It drastically affected my mind-set.
I am sure there are people who are not trying their hardest. But I think most people do try really, really hard. Their efforts will not be noticed because of the outcome. We fall short over and over again. No matter how hard I tried this morning, we still missed the bus. But, I was trying all morning, promise!!
The wonderful news is this: God is the One who sees perfectly our efforts. God is the One who knows how hard we are trying. And we can be thankful eternity over that He is interested in our efforts, not our outcomes.
In General Conference, Elder Bednar said something that has been in my mind ever since. He said speaking of the moment we stand before our Creator:
…we will be left without excuse. (Therefore They Hushed Their Fears)
Here on Earth, excuses abound. I was late because _____. I couldn’t finish my project because _______. I would have loved to come by and see you but _______. I definitely would have helped out if_______. Excuses are so much a part of life that it is hard to imagine to be “left without excuse.”
However, this morning’s experience helped me see the thrilling other side of ‘no excuse’. The judgement bar will also bring all our very best efforts to light. I think of people in my life who do so much more good than anyone notices. I think of tired mothers whose cute babies are completely oblivious. I think of bishops and primary teachers whose efforts to teach and guide remain unnoticed. Truly, there are many who are trying their very, very best.
The Book of Mormon ends with the image of meeting at “the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah.” (Moroni 10:34) For the people who are trying, trying, trying as hard as they can, the moment when all is unveiled will be glorious. Our sincere efforts, though often insufficient here on Earth, will perfectly glorify God when coupled with the perfect love of the Savior and His All-encompassing Atonement.
Thanks for studying with me today. Have a wonderful day!
S: (Prayer/Ask) Why does God care more about our efforts than just the outcome?
- Read the context of Elder Bednar’s statement that we will “be left without excuse.”
Please note that godly fear is linked inextricably to an understanding of the Final Judgment and our individual accountability for our desires, thoughts, words, and acts (see Mosiah 4:30). The fear of the Lord is not a reluctant apprehension about coming into His presence to be judged. I do not believe we will be afraid of Him at all. Rather, it is the prospect in His presence of facing things as they really are about ourselves and having “a perfect knowledge” (2 Nephi 9:14; see also Alma 11:43) of all our rationalizations, pretenses, and self-deceptions. Ultimately, we will be left without excuse.
Every person who has lived or will yet live upon the earth “shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to [his or her] works whether they be good or whether they be evil” (Mosiah 16:10). If our desires have been for righteousness and our works good, then the judgment bar will be pleasing (see Jacob 6:13; Enos 1:27; Moroni 10:34). And at the last day we will “be rewarded unto righteousness” (Alma 41:6). (Therefore They Hushed Their Fears)
- In Alma 5, the High Priest calls his people to repentance so this chapter has quite the hell-fire and damnation tone. Don’t get me wrong, we all need a good dose of that! But, on the days when we are really, really trying, many of us can say that with the Atonement of Christ, we are doing “all we can do.” (Alma 25:23) Read Alma’s words with that tone:
I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? (Alma 5:19)
- Elder Holland taught us beautifully about our compassionate Father in Heaven who sees us in all our feeble but honest efforts, in his talk, The Grandeur of God.
There, in the midst of a grand vision of humankind which heaven opened to his view, Enoch, observing both the blessings and challenges of mortality, turns his gaze toward the Father and is stunned to see Him weeping. He says in wonder and amazement to this most powerful Being in the universe: “How is it that thou canst weep? … Thou art just [and] merciful and kind forever; … Peace … is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?”
Looking out on the events of almost any day, God replies: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands. … I gave unto them … [a] commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. … Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?” 10
That single, riveting scene does more to teach the true nature of God than any theological treatise could ever convey.
…Jesus did not come to improve God’s view of man nearly so much as He came to improve man’s view of God and to plead with them to love their Heavenly Father as He has always and will always love them. The plan of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, yes, even the anger and the judgment of God they had occasion to understand. But the love of God, the profound depth of His devotion to His children, they still did not fully know—until Christ came.
So feeding the hungry, healing the sick, rebuking hypocrisy, pleading for faith—this was Christ showing us the way of the Father, He who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness.” 14 In His life and especially in His death, Christ was declaring, “This is God’s compassion I am showing you, as well as that of my own.” In the perfect Son’s manifestation of the perfect Father’s care, in Their mutual suffering and shared sorrow for the sins and heartaches of the rest of us, we see ultimate meaning in the declaration: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
- This verse in Isaiah 52:8 (which Abinadi also teaches in Mosiah 15:29) gives us a glimpse of the glorious moment when we shall “see eye to eye”. This is one of my favorite things about the eternities. We will see eye to eye! Understanding, compassion, forgiveness…what else will come of seeing eye to eye?
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
- What are some things that hinder the success of things we try so hard at? Consider other people’s agency, human frailties such as fatigue, the weather (haha) etc.
- When you have tried your very hardest at an event, a relationship, a calling– what has ultimately hindered you? Did you feel that this event was judged by your efforts or by the outcome?
- Think of something where the outcome is not yet how you would hope. Perhaps you are working on fixing a relationship and though you are trying as hard as you can, the relationship is still strained. How does knowing the effort is counted help you take heart?
- If we truly believe God to be just and merciful, and if we are truly trying our hardest, why can we have “a strong confidence?” (Proverbs 14:26)
R: (Write) your thoughts, what you learned, impressions you received, and anything else in your scripture journal (include your thoughts on the study session question: Why does God care more about our efforts than just the outcome?)
- Think of something you consider very important in your life. For example, parenting, callings, work, school, etc) On a scale of 1-10, 1 being least amount of effort and 10 being most amount of effort, give yourself an honest rating, the rating that you think God would give you. Not of the outcome but of the of the sincere effort. How does rating your effort change your perspective?
- Now think of someone in your life who you feel is not measuring up to your expectations. A friend, a spouse, a sister, a co-worker, a child, etc. Can we truly know their level of effort? Could you write down on a scale of 1-10 how hard they are trying? Why or why not? Write down your thoughts as well as how this perspective changes the way you view them.
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: This challenge has two parts. Think about how you rated your efforts. Remind your self throughout the day that God sees your efforts too! The second part is to extend the same mercy to the person you thought about earlier. They know their efforts. God knows their efforts. Give them the benefit of the doubt and accept their offering. That is what compassion is.
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