| Read Part 1 |
Somehow, as I have sat through all those church meetings, I became confused, thinking that spiritual self-reliance was as necessary and positive as temporal self-reliance. One of the most shameful situations I could be caught in, as a Latter-day Saint, according to my perception of the messages I heard, was to be found needing anything beyond what I had had the wisdom and foresight to provide for myself.
The work ethic permeated my home and my life and slopped over into my spiritual life. I totally confused the work that the sweat of my brow could accomplish with the price that only the sweat of His brow could pay.
To me, it felt equally as shameful to need any of His Atoning Power or Grace as it did to admit that I hadn’t stored my year’s supply of food. I suffered from the damning assumption that just as I was expected to “work out my own salvation” temporally, I was also expected to do so spiritually.
While others, the lepers and sinners, knelt at His feet, bathing them with their grateful tears, I thought I was supposed to be able to stand before Him straight and tall and hold out my clean hand with a proud heart . . . oops, I mean pure heart . . . and say, “Thank You, Lord, for your sacrifice. But guess what, I’ve kept myself so unspotted from the world that I only need a mere teaspoon of your Atonement. You see, I have been ‘good’ and have earned my salvation by my own efforts.”
To put it more succinctly: I was convinced, despite King Benjamin’s indicting question, “Are we not all beggars?” (Mosiah 4:19), that the most terrible fate I could ever suffer according to LDS cultural standards was to be a beggar of any kind.
Then, six years ago, life took a turn that made me realize that Benjamin was absolutely right: we are all beggars. At least I have to acknowledge that I am.
No perfect record held out with clean hands and a proud heart was mine. On my knees with the lepers and the cripples, the divorcees and the single parents of troubled children, I drowned in the depths of humility and died a sort of death as to the old person I had tried to be.
In my own small way, I knew what it meant to have to drink a bitter cup that could not be passed from me, I knew a cross I could not come down from without abandoning God’s Truth in me. With a pierced and broken heart I sought the succor of Him whose heart had been pierced and broken for me.
Read Part 3 tomorrow.
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