By Heather S.
I’m the oldest child in my family and growing up I always felt extra pressure and expectations to be perfect in everything I do. I worked hard and put all my effort into my schooling, my church and extracurricular activities. My siblings looked up to me so much and I wanted to be worthy of their praise and adulation. My friends and family all acknowledged my successes and my positive attitude on life. Consequently, I felt more pressure to uphold all of their expectations.
I wasn’t as happy and energetic as I made out to be and I started to feel like I was more of a show than anything else. I was trying so hard to do everything right that I was getting overwhelmed. I could never admit that I felt this way because that would be short of perfection. After all, hadn’t Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect…” (Matthew 5: 48). Finally, it just became too much. I felt like I was the epitome of the phrase, “Tied Together With a Smile.” From the outside I was the happiest girl in the world destined to succeed in her life, but inside I was truly struggling to admit that carrying my life’s simple burdens of life was really hard.
I felt myself completely and ultimately alone. I felt defeated, exhausted, overwhelmed and without purpose. I struggled to admit how alone I truly was. There was no one I could turn to because they would think less of me. I was carrying too much, but I wouldn’t admit that I needed help.
Finally, I turned to my Heavenly Father in prayer. Honestly, it was hard to pray because I didn’t know what to ask for and I still felt that I didn’t deserve help. I thought that I should be able to figure this out because, after all, I was blessed with a wonderful life! However, I kept praying, and as I prayed I came to feel peace and comfort replace my stress and worries. I realized that I could trust God to help me through my difficulties because He knows me individually and He cares about who I am. He understands exactly how I feel: my fear of failure, my feeling of inadequacy, my sense of being unworthy of help or strength, and the pressure placed upon me by expectations.
My seemingly small worldly problems were big problems to me so God viewed them as such. I felt with a surety that my Heavenly Father was very aware of the overwhelming emotions I had felt when I was trying to be perfect and fighting not to admit my weaknesses. Through His love I felt understood. I knew I had a purpose in this life. I knew He cares about me and my needs. I no longer felt vulnerable for accepting my weaknesses because I felt the strong support from a loving Father in Heaven.
As I pondered and prayed about this love I also became grateful for my Savior. He did not expect me to reach perfection in this life. My Heavenly Father loves me so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son so that I might have the opportunity to repent of my sins and return to my Heavenly Father’s presence in whatever state of perfection I might be. This knowledge has brought me an unexplainable amount of comfort and strength. I know I can turn to my Heavenly Father through any difficulty–big or small. I no longer fall under that phrase of being ‘Tied Together with a Smile’ because I have felt love and understanding from both my Savior and my Heavenly Father. I have learned that I am not perfect. I can’t do everything on my own and that is okay.