Joseph Smith once said:
“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish this people to have a virtuous leader.”
This quote has always been a source of personal motivation for me, especially when I adapt it slightly to reflect what I value most:
“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish my Parents to have a virtuous son.”
“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish my wife to have a virtuous husband.”
“I am at all times willing to give up that which is wrong for I wish my daughters to have a virtuous father.”
This phrase “willing to give up that which is wrong” is kind of intriguing to me. At first I thought it seemed as if it was too focused on the negative. If we are pursuing truth continually then why worry about the wrong stuff?
I think it may have something to do with how “sticky” the wrong stuff can be. There are habits, compulsions, and ideologies that can be right or wrong. Some are obvious to us, and others are not and don’t appear so until later on. We will continually encounter error in ourselves as we move closer to truth. I think there is a correlation between our willingness to detach from those things that are in error and our ability to progress.
It is hard to set aside an ideology we once cherished, especially when it formed what we felt was a critical aspect of our understanding; hard, but not impossible.
The other “wrongs” that are out there can be related to sins, transgressions, compulsions, habits, or addictions. There are things we know are wrong and feel kinda willing to give up, but we struggle to do so and maybe lose hope. I think willingness is an acknowledgement within ourselves that change is desirable even if hope appears nonexistent.
I appreciate how much the Lord values our willingness.
Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days. (D&C 64:34)
Willingness is found at the very first and the very last step of change; it is also everywhere in between – just like grace.