Overcoming Our Barriers to Grace
Sometimes I just want my life to look like I’ve got everything under control. I don’t necessarily have to really have everything under control, just the outward appearance that I’m organized, self-sufficient and always calm. And lately, I’ve realized this is a recipe for disaster.
I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Mormon Church). As Mormons, we believe we should follow our Savior Jesus Christ in His teachings and principles as we strive to become more like Him. Jesus Christ’s immaculate atonement provides the necessary resources (grace) to help us become clean, improve our lives and come back to Him.
And occasionally it’s much easier said than done.
In a book titled, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior, written by Randall J. Brown, and published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc, Brown talks about our own barriers that keep us from becoming more like the Savior:
The gospel of perfectionism is rooted in self-effort and can never produce joy, peace and hope we seek. Our lives may instead be filled with emptiness, discouragement and shame. If this is the gospel we experience, we are missing out on the gospel of good news. This is not the gospel described by the Savior when He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). The gospel of perfectionism is always a heavy yoke to bear because no matter how much effort we put forth, it will never be sufficient.
… Perfectionism, behaviorism, and self-sufficiency are the results of trusting in the arm of flesh. They direct us away from the Savior’s grace; they create feelings of spiritual inadequacy and deepen our sense of shame. They lead us to embrace the false be
lief that we alone are responsible for our spiritual perfection. Perfection is a phenomenon that pushes us to almost inhuman levels of effort while keeping us from surrendering to Christ so that the power of His spirit might work in us (21)
Last year, I was struggling to adjust to our g
One early Friday morning I found myself standing in the middle of my kitchen, dish cloth in hand, looking out over my children. My husband had taken our 1 year old baby to the hospital that morning for surgery on an injury to his throat. My oldest was due at a long-awaited, could-not-be-canceled orthodontist appointment in one hour and my 4 year old girl had just woken up incredibly sick. I could not leave her with her 6 year old brother, and I couldn’t take them all with me.rowing family of four young children. Amidst the daily physical and emotional demands, I harbored an unhealthy sense of pride and ownership in my abilities as a mother to handle everything without needing the assistance of others, including at times, the Lord.
It was the first time I remembered talking to God and confessing that I couldn’t do it all. I could not handle all the necessary demands that were being made on me and still be successful for my children. His steady answer came to me as ideas of neighbors I could call flooded into my mind. I felt calm, but I also felt his loving rebuke that I should have been more aware of His help long before that moment.
The lesson was so humbling for me. And I
truly felt happier at the end of the day reestablishing my reliance on the Lord. It’s okay to go to Him with your troubles, no matter how minor they might be. It’s okay to rely on Him and confess our own inadequacies. Jesus Christ is not an occasional listener, but a steady shoulder to lean on. And the best part is that we’re expected to use it!
Brown goes on to say:
As we come unto Christ, we will be tutored through our own unique set of experiences, trials, and afflictions. These struggles can become the catalysts that turn us to Christ and allow us to experience Him in ways that would not otherwise be possible (20).
If you ever have one of those days where the balance of real life is not tipping in your favor, I hope you will seek out the comforting, assisting grace of Jesus Christ. It is real. It makes my household a happier place to be.
*This article was adapted from Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior, by Randall J. Brown, 2009, Horizon Books.
This article was written by Rachael McKinnon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Rachael Carver McKinnon holds a BA in Humanities and an MBA from Brigham Young University. She currently lives in Draper, Utah with her husband, Greg. When she isn’t keeping up with one of her four children, she loves road biking and lap swimming.
Tags: Atonement, atonement of Christ, Book of Morman, Book of Mormon, Christ, gospel, grace, holy bible, Jesus Christ, lds church, Lord Jesus Christ, morman beliefs, Morman Church, Morman Doctrines, Mormans, mormon beliefs, mormon church, Mormon Doctrines, Mormonism, Mormons, Restored Gospel, temptations, Trials
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