I just read part of this article:
While the entire thing is probably great I was really lured in by the question:
The Savior said that we should be perfect, even as he and our Father in Heaven are perfect. (See 3 Ne. 12:48.) Are we expected to achieve perfection in this life? If so, how can I avoid becoming discouraged with myself as I try to achieve it?
This is something I've mulled over in my mind over and over again and here are some things that I have come across in my casual studies:
1) To be perfect means to be "whole," not necessarily "without flaw".
2) God does not expect us to be perfect in this life.
3) Being on the correct path to perfection brings affirmation from people you trust.
4) "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" is an inspiring scripture.
But here is how I interpreted it whether I knew it or not:
1) To be on the right path to perfection is to feel whole as you are achieving perfection.
2) God expects you to be making pretty good head-way in this life on being perfect.
3) If I make my church leaders and parents proud of me then I'm achieving perfection.
4) In God's eyes I'm a project that is trying to deserve His patience.
As you can see there is often a disparity (you know you liked that Caitlan) between what I take in and what I process. But I am not at all under the impression that I am alone in this misunderstanding nor am I under the impression that this is a comprehensive list of common misconceptions.
Now I want to share some things from this article that opened my eyes just a little wider today and reminded me why the end goal of perfection is not a punishment for the imperfect but instead a feasible goal for those who are willing to follow the footsteps of those who have 1) commanded it and 2) done it before:
Perfect can also mean “having all flaws and errors removed.”
While I knew this, I didn't really know it because I know that repentance is a true principle that Jesus Christ taught, I didn't realize that the very definition of perfection was to repent. I knew that if we repent we can become perfect and that God has commanded us to repent... I just never realized that when He commanded us to be perfect it was nearly synonymous with the commandment to repent. Which for some reason seems much more possible.
The Lord himself has warned us about being unrealistic in our expectations. To a young prophet, deeply contrite over losing 116 pages of sacred manuscript, the Lord said: “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength.” (D&C 10:4.)
Provided that you believe that Joseph Smith was a man of God (and the one person who reads this does) then it's a little easier to understand why this moment in Joseph Smith's life (http://mormon.org/restoration/) was particularly discouraging. He had openly disobeyed God and fell short of a much demanded "perfection". But God's counsel to him (although he was chastised) was to calm down and slow down. To breathe! How often do we think once we've realized that we've done wrong and sufficiently realized the weight of our error think "now I will take a moment to breathe and slow my pace a little bit." And how wise would our future actions be if we did?
I think this is long enough for today but there is so much more in that article that I may write more later! Either way I hope that messages like these make it out to more people more often so we can all confidently say "I will not be discouraged!" on our own personal and transcendental quest for perfection.