I was exhausted. I was stressed out because we were trying to save up money. I was very pregnant at a time that I wasn’t exactly ready to be super pregnant. I was working at a job that only made me more stressed out as I called impossible insurance companies all day. I was studying a year’s worth of material in five months to take a big certification exam. It was an intense time.
I came home from work one day, and I needed Conner. I needed him to be kind, and honestly, I needed him to be forgiving because I was so over-stimulated from work. I felt ready to scream at something. And though I wasn’t planning on unleashing myself on Conner, I knew that I wasn’t going to be the best wife that evening.
The funny thing about this situation is that Conner was in the same mental state.
He was even more stressed about our financial situation. He was worried about becoming a dad and working late hours at work. He needed me to come in and be gentle and soothing.
There are going to be days when you have nothing left to give. There is no capacity within you to reach out and be kind and understanding, and there’s no time to sit back and get your feet under you again. On lucky days, those around you are going to understand and be gracious. But there will be days when neither you nor anyone around you have anything left to give.
This week’s Come Follow Me includes one of my favorite topics: becoming a Saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ (Mosiah 3:1-20). Some people call this grace; others call it the enabling power. There are plenty of names for it, but what is it?
It is that part of the Atonement that most people didn’t grasp until more recently. Plenty of people are aware of the aspects of the Atonement that pays for our sins and heals broken hearts and situations. However, there is another part that is equally remarkable and necessary. I will call it grace in this particular article.
So what is grace?
The Atonement always feels so incredibly abstract to me, and so I always appreciate a nice, concrete example to help me understand it just a tad better.
Let’s look at this from a financial standpoint. Two people get married; what happens to their finances in the most traditional sense? They would merge, right? Just to make things simple, let’s say two people got married. She has a bank account with some savings, and he has some student loans. When they get married, their financial situations came together.
Remember how Christ always calls Himself the Bridegroom? Well let’s all take a second to look at our personal financial situations.
No unclean thing can dwell with God. I don’t know about you, but if I were to look back at my entire life (including the things I’ve repented of), I can tell you right now, I am very unclean.
So what is our financial situation? It is debt. I hate to break it to you, but all we bring to this marriage is debt. Sure, we’ve done some good deeds in this life, but we are literally incapable of paying back the “purchases” we’ve made. We are debt.
What is Christ? He is infinite surplus.
So when we were baptized, we entered into a covenant relationship with Him (cough cough, when you get married, you enter into a covenant relationship). So we’re in this covenant relationship, and immediately, our debts are wiped out.
This is the part of the Atonement that everyone is very familiar with; now I want to explain grace.
So now all our debts are paid off. You want to know what’s cool? Because of our covenant relationship, we still have access to His infinite surplus.
Need to perform a service but you’re exhausted? Bam. He will give you the energy you need to make it happen.
Need to forgive someone who has hurt you deeply? He can give you the charity you need to both heal and love the person anyway.
Need to perform a task for church but are lacking all motivation? Christ can even give you the desire to make it happen.
We don’t have to become saints on our own.
So back to my story at the beginning. I got home from work one night with nothing left to give. I stopped on the stairs and reflected on the fact that Conner was also exhausted and wouldn’t be able to help me get myself together. I thought about how he would need me to take care of him, and I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to do it.
And so I prayed. I prayed that Christ would give me the gifts I needed to love and care for my husband beyond my own capacity for good, and He came through. I don’t know how grace works, but I do know that it does work.
When Nephi agreed to go back to Jerusalem and obey the Lord, Lehi was “exceedingly glad.” Why? Not because of how righteous Nephi is; the scriptures say that Lehi was exceedingly glad because Lehi knew that Nephi had been blessed of the Lord. 1 Nephi 3:8.
When Nephi was bound in strong ties, he didn’t ask that the ties would be removed. He asked for the strength to break them. 1 Nephi 7:17-18.
I’m only using examples from Nephi, but the examples of this are everywhere in the scriptures. These prophets and missionaries that we look up to were able to accomplish these incredible feats because they knew how to access the power of the Atonement.
We can do the same.