There is a common understanding among us that the goal of our lives is to become perfect. It is understandable, of course, with Jesus saying it right in the Sermon on The Mount (see Matt 5:48). This exhortation should be viewed in light of other recorded inspired counsel and understanding.
Joseph Smith said:
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. -Nauvoo, April 7, 1844 (emphasis added)
Likewise, I have been much edified by something that the Lord told Moroni, recorded in 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.
I take these two ideas (and these are certainly not all that has been said about the subject) combined to mean that:
- The Lord has promised to show us our weakness if we come unto him. This is part of the price of discipleship – we must be humble.
- Chirst’s grace is sufficient for those who humble themselves before him – i.e. turn to him and seek his forgiveness and help, recognizing and admitting their weakness.
- If we do so, he will help us overcome our weakness – addictions, foul temper, etc (remember his ability to heal us). NB! This will probably not happen fast enough for our mortal timetable (have patience), but will take both time and effort, but will be immeasurably more efficient if the Lord is given a chance to help us.
- As we go about trying to improve, we will discover new things we need to learn as we understand the will of the Lord better. Reiterate steps 2 to 3.
- We will never during our mortal lives be finished with this process, but will have to continue through eternities, until we have learned enough.
The important part of what I’m saying is that we are not alone: It is only through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are able to learn the principles of exaltation. Moreover, it is only by the same grace, that the Atonement satisfies the claims of justice and we can finally be exalted.
So if you feel weak and inadequate, the Lord understands you better than you can believe (see Alma 7:11-12). Do not give up.