This was written on 22 September 2009. Please see sisterthomasinportugal.blogspot.com for the original post.
I've recently been studying the beginning of the Doctrine and Covenants. As I was reading section 3 I was impressed when the Lord says to Joseph, "But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work." Joseph had just lost 116 pages of scripture. That's no small mistake. I'm sure he knew the levity of that error, but the Lord told him in essence, "You're not perfect. Yeah, it was a big mistake, but you're still learning. Just don't do it again." And what is amazing to me is that Joseph learns. He doesn't do something like that ever again.
So I have a friend with a horrible habit: he bites his nails incessantly. Now, I don't bite my nails. I actually think it's gross, so I always volunteer to help people stop. I remember once I was sitting by him watching a movie. He had asked me to help him stop biting his nails, so we had agreed that I would push his hand away from his mouth whenever he went to start biting his nails. So the movie started. His hand went up. I pushed it away. Ten seconds later his hand would go up again. I would push it away. This pattern continued until the two of us gave up. He must have tried to bite his nails, I don't know, 20-30 times in just ten minutes. It was absolutely exhausting. This happened over four years ago. Recently I was talking to this friend and he was still biting his nails as much as ever. Nothing has changed in four years. He told me that he stopped biting his nails on his mission, but that when he got back he started right up again.
How many times have I done something of a similar nature. I am in no way, shape, or form perfect. I do try to do my best, but I find that I make the same mistakes over and over and over. When I was on my mission, I went through the same trials repeatedly. I think the Lord was trying to tell me something. He was trying to teach me and it just took me a long time to figure it out. How amazing it is to me that Joseph only needed to be told once and he changed. That is true repentance. It's changing. It's being different. The Lord is so patient with me. I didn't even have the patience to push my friend's hand away for more than 10-15 minutes.
The Lord is so patient with me, but this is not to say that He doesn't expect us to change. The Lord goes on to tell Joseph in section 5, "Oh, this unbelieving and stiffnecked generation—mine anger is kindled against them."All the Lord expects of me is that I change and that I do better every day. Surely, it's not as hard as I make it out to be. I just need to be more aware of my own nail being drawn to my mouth.