The best thing about The Continuous Conversion by Brad Wilcox is that it made me feel hopeful. As a recovering perfectionist, I am always battling the feeling that I will NEVER be good enough, that I can NEVER do enough and that I will NEVER get it quite right.
This book reminded me that it may be true, but that it’s ok, because what really matters is that I continue to try. It is filled with words of encouragement, with wonderful analogies and stories that teach important gospel principles in easy-to-understand language.
After reading this book, I came away with the comforting feeling that I really am good enough and I can keep improving forever.
He says, “Growth and development take time. Learning takes practice. Discipleship is a journey and true conversion is a continuous process.”
When I stop to examine my own live, I can see how this is true. Even in my own journey, I am farther ahead in some places than in others.
The other thing I really loved about this book (and now I need to go and get his previous book The Continuous Atonement) is that it was one of the clearest explanations of how to apply the atonement in my life and how it really could help me on a continuous basis. That’s something I have always struggled with, not because I didn’t believe it, but because I really didn’t understand how to use it in my life. I didn’t understand how striving to keep my covenants and how TRYING to improve is applying the atonement in my life.
As I read much of this I was reminded of a favorite quote: It matters not how many times we fall; what matters is only that we rise again one time more than we fall.
Too often we take the admonition “be ye therefore perfect” far too literally. When we make mistakes or fall short of our own standard, which is often impossibly high, we beat ourselves up or quit in discouragement.
The atonement gives us permission to stop doing that to ourselves.
As I have come to learn, the translation of that particular passage of scripture doesn’t really mean flawless or exact, but rather completed or finished, which isn’t going to happen until after this life.
When we combine our efforts with the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can eventually “be ye therefore perfect” because the atonement will make up the difference for us.
Instead of feeling discouraged or guilty because I need the Savior to make up the difference, because I need his atonement, I feel hopeful, I feel encouraged and I feel motivated to keep striving, to keep trying and to continuously work on my conversion.
As it says on the cover, God isn’t just proving us, he’s improving us. And after reading The Continuous Conversion, I feel like that’s really possible.
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