In March of 1831, the Lord admonished Joseph with these words:
“And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen.” (D&C 46:33)
The obviously important word might be “continually”. But the word that stood out to me was “practice”. Surely, there is a chance that the word practice can be understood like “practicing medicine” and that makes sense to me. But I love the idea of practicing, as in “I’m going to go out and practicing hitting a baseball.”
If I played baseball this weekend and only hit the ball once in four at-bats, I would feel a bit discouraged (which is normal), but I think I would spend this next week practicing my hitting. I’d analyze what wasn’t working for me. I’d determine what adjustments could be made. I’d set some goals and I would go into next week’s game with some realistic expectations about my hitting. After hitting the ball twice in four at-bats, I’d celebrate my improvement and would adjust my next week’s practice. Luckily, since most baseball seasons consist of 162 games, I have some time to practice. I have the whole season to “practice batting…continually”.
Years ago, while serving as bishop in our ward, a ward member and I talked about some failures he had experienced with a certain aspect of the law of chastity. He had struggled for years — over a decade — with this problem. After our first meeting, he went roughly two weeks living a virtuous life. Then he fell back into the old pattern. He came right in a visited with me, sharing his struggles. He was surprised when I congratulated him on his success. I explained that after more than a decade of struggling, almost daily, with keeping this commandment, he had gone two entire weeks with success. That was a new triumph. And, he had time to improve. I wasn’t suggesting that he go too easy on himself for breaking a commandment. But I was suggesting that he allow himself some time for improvement. After all, for him, we were only halfway through the season. 80 games to go.
You and I have a little time. We have time to practice being who we want to be and who God wants us to be. We may be batting .147 today, but we can practice, train, learn, grow, and bat .300 by next month. And .350 in a year. And we can bat .400 soon enough.
I’m not advocating turning a blind eye to our sins or poor choices. I am thinking that life is, in part, about practicing.
Practice forgiving. Practice being patient. Practice being a good spouse or parent or child or sibling or neighbor. Practice keeping your thoughts clean. Practice. You’re not going to be perfect. You’re not going to hit every pitch today. But you and I can practice…
These views are personal, and are not the official views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints...