Closer Than We Think

In the April 2015 General Conference, Elder Dale G. Renlund, then of the Quorum of the Seventy, shared a story in his talk. You can read the full talk here if you're interested. But as a summary, a missionary was frustrated with his companion, who he judged to be "immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done."

While praying for help, this frustrated missionary received the impression, "Compared to me, you two aren't all that different."

The story ends with the lesson this missionary learned about being patient with those who are imperfect.

But I often think of the other missionary, the one who was "imperfect." I wonder if that day on the road he had similar frustrations about his limited faith, inability to keep up, and general inadequacy. I wonder if he also prayed and if Heavenly Father answered the his prayer in the same way. "Compared to me, you two aren't all that different."

Where for one this message brings patience, to the other it brings power. For one it's compassion, to the other is courage.

I can testify that this is true. More often than I'd like, I'm the other missionary. The slow one. The one who's incapable. The one who has no business being in the company of the other. In these times, the Spirit whispers to my heart, "Compared to me, you two aren't all that different."

When I'm at the grocery store in dirty sweatpants and greasy hair with the screaming toddler in the checkout line and I'm behind the beautiful and organized mom who's chatting with the cashier with the kind of genuine love I'm often too shy to share, and I begin to feel those pangs of self-doubt, that line comes to mind. "Compared to me, you two aren't all that different."

When I'm considering a job, but know I'm under-qualified and that someone else could do far better than I could, and why would anyone choose me over the hordes of talented and educated people submitting their perfectly polished resumes, I remember that line. "Compared to me, you two aren't all that different."

And most recently, I heard that line when studying Joseph Smith's First Vision. Again, I felt like the slow and awkward missionary companion. My mind began to tell me, "The counsel in James 1:5 of If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God worked for Joseph Smith because he had incredible amounts of faith and because he had an important question and because the Lord needed him to accomplish his work." And when my brain begins to add, "but for me and my insignificant prayer and my limited faith..." then the Spirit gently reminds, " "Compared to me, you two aren't all that different."

The Lord is as eager to take upon Him my sins as He is for the sins of those I admire.

He is as willing to compensate for my weaknesses as He is for those who have unnumbered strengths.

He is as anxious to answer my prayers as He is for those who have much bigger needs.

He is as available to guide me on my journey as He is for those of the past.

Because in the end, we are all mere mortals, children of God, dependent on our Savior to fulfill our equally important missions that He graciously assigns us in our quest to become like Him.

Compared to Him, you are I aren't all that different.

And we are both so much closer than we think.

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