I love to workout.
Maybe some of you are rolling your eyes at me a little right now, but it’s the truth. I haven’t always loved it, but a few years ago I began going to the gym because it was my only child free time. Then I realized that it was really cheap mental health therapy. As I started to become more invested in my physical health, I set some goals for myself. Things that were hard for me, things I never thought possible. The first thing I tackled was Push-ups. It seems that no matter what I do, my upper body strength refuses to increase. But, I was determined to master traditional push-ups. Sadly, I have lost the progress I made, but I was rocking some awesome push-ups at one point. Once that goal was accomplished to my satisfaction, I moved on. To Pull-Ups.
I worked toward my goal of doing ONE pull-up for over a year. ONE. I wasn’t trying to win any world records, my baseline was literally trying to do ONE pull-up. I got so frustrated after a year of no success, I just gave up. One day I mentioned to my husband that there are some things I just feel like I will never be able to master – like pull-ups. He looked at me and said “You know that’s what the assist band is for, right?”
How in the world I never thought about using a band to assist me, I’m not sure. Then again, I never asked for help, I never asked for guidance or followed a program. I just kept trying to figure it out on my own every day. That day, I got out my husband’s assist band (the one we had IN OUR HOUSE), and boom – I did a pull-up. I just needed a little help.
How often do we all do this? We continuously try to do hard things and never look around for help. In my scripture study this past week, I got stuck on a very familiar line of scripture. In 2 Nephi 25:23 we read, “…by grace we are saved after all we can do.” Grace is a topic we seem to talk about frequently and still walk away feeling like we do not have a firm grasp on it. This week, however, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about it and trying to figure out my own thoughts on grace.
In Webster’s dictionary, when we use the word grace as a verb, the definition is “do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one’s presence.” So, in the religious context, we receive grace by being back in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This makes me think about all the ways I can be in His presence or when I am, inadvertently, pushing Him away.
When I don’t show compassion to myself, I am ignoring the grace of Christ. But, when I allow myself time to actually feel human emotions (instead of shoving them way down), I allow Him to come in to comfort. When I choose not to follow His commandments, I am denying His grace. By doing the things He has asked of me, I create space for Him to show me how He uses my physical body to teach me about spiritual things. Or when I beat myself up over a mistake or misstep, I am essentially telling Him I don’t accept His offering of grace. In essence, I am not allowing His Atonement to be at work in my life.
The past couple of years it has been difficult for me to serve in the temple. The temple closest to me (which is a 90 minute drive each way) was under renovations. This past Fall, it was rededicated and I have set a goal to be in the temple once a month. The first time I went (my first time in this particular temple), I was taken aback when I tried to open the front doors. They were shockingly heavy! Remember, I love to workout – opening doors should not be an issue for me. But, there I was, needing to use both hands and a good amount of effort to get the door open. And then a temple worker pushed the handicap button, the one that opens those doors for me. From there on, my temple experience was full of people ready to help me at every turn. And it has been that way every time I have visited since.
How often do we try with all our might to take on heavy tasks alone? How often do we remember, in the moment, that we always have someone available to carry the load or to fill in the places where we might be lacking a little? Our lives do not have to feel so heavy! Just like that temple worker and the automatic open stepped in to help me walk through the temple doors – the Savior wants to help us be in His presence. To grab hold of the grace He freely offers us. It is up to each of us to look around, to stop pushing Him away, to truly set our weight at His feet.
His grace is free. We simply need to allow Him in.
Featured image: Church of Jesus Christ Newsroom