Striving for the IDEAL!

For the next two weeks Chocolate on my Cranium, Diapers and divinity, Middle-aged Mormon Man, and Jocelyn are hosting The Family Proclamation Celebration and every day will be posting great articles about the family.  I am not even going to pretend to keep up with them.  But I would like to participate and I have plenty of opinions about the family.  So I will do my best and try to post periodically (at least more regularly than in the past :-).  Wish me luck!

Today, I want to discuss why we set an ‘ideal’ out there.  We all know ideals are difficult, if not impossible to achieve.  So why do we teach them?  Is it so we can look to it and say, ‘Well, I can never achieve that, so I am not going to even try?’ or ‘I’m such a failure!!!  I can’t do it!’  Certainly some of us will respond that way.

No, that’s not even close.  We teach the ideal because in setting a mark of measurement, all are improved with effort.  Just think back to school for a moment.  If we are all striving for an A, even a ‘failing’ student will probably achieve a C.  C is better than F.  Do we just tell the F student, well, you can’t ever really get an A, so you shouldn’t try.  Just be happy with that F???!!  NO WAY!

We want everyone to be as successful as possible.  We want everyone to put in some effort and thereby gain some reward, even if it isn’t the greatest possible.  And so as a mark, we put out the ideal.

Photo credit: Visiting Teaching Surprise

For families, this–The Family: A Proclamation to the World–this is the ideal.  We will not all be able to achieve this level of functioning.  But if we are all trying to achieve the ideal, all of us are better–our homes are better, our churches are better, our communities are better, our nations are better.  ALL benefit from striving for the ideal.

Unfortunately whenever we have measuring sticks we mortals also resort to judgement.  Someone thinks because they more closely reach the ideal they are better than those not as far down the road.  Or someone looks ahead of them and dismisses their willingness to try because the people ahead of them had ‘special circumstances’ to allow them to be where they are.  Thus in our efforts to make all feel good and valued, some express desire to throw out the measuring sticks and get away from an ideal all together.  What a mistake!  In the absence of an ideal, all will be encouraged to walk in their own way and accept their own mediocrity.  Sound familiar??

I really appreciated this quote today from Cocoa’s blog:
I’ll just add this thought from Elder Marlin K. Jensen “Prophets and apostles have always had the duty to teach and encourage us to strive for the ideal. It was what the Savior did. His injunction was “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48), not just “Have a good day.” It is also helpful to remember that in teaching the ideal, the Savior recognized that the ideal isn’t always immediately attainable. Seeking to keep all the commandments—even if we sometimes fall short of the ideal—is something within the power of each of us and is acceptable to our Heavenly Father.”  Cocoa’s blog

I am so very grateful that we have Prophets teaching us the Lord’s ideal!!

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