Anyone who’s ever enjoyed an aerobic step class knows the intensity is amazing and the workout is exhilarating. People come to class from all walks of life. Many don’t even know each other’s names or even what they do for a living. But when it comes time to step, they put their distinct personae aside, like a gym bag in a locker room, and grab a step. They find a place on the floor and wait. Then when the music starts and the beat intensifies, they stick to their goal—to get a great workout. Their individuality comes into play through the intensity with which they work during the routine—some harder than others. After class, their heart rate is elevated, they feel great, they smile and congratulate each other, then pick up their gym bags and go home, determined to start it all up again in a day or two.
While steppers wait for the class to begin, their eyes naturally scan the room, noticing the other steps around them. They can easily see when another person’s step is askew. This happens when a person hastily places the board on top of the set of risers without making a final adjustment for evenness on both sides. It’s easy to spot someone else’s lopsided step in a room full of parallel lines. On the flip side, it’s uncommon for a stepper to notice this about her own step since she is standing directly in front of it looking down from above.
Steppers look out for each other. Before class begins they alert one another when they see a tilted step. In fact, some people run to offer their help. They know as soon as the music starts and that person places one foot on the step, she is likely to fall and hurt herself. It is the hidden fear of all steppers to suffer a mishap in class which may lead to an injury. Steppers are quick to help each other out when they see an accident waiting to happen. The warning is given with sincere concern. Those receiving the message are grateful for the counsel. Could a step class have a hidden gospel message?
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we approached life more like a spiritual step class, we might be more inclined to treat the people in our lives with more care. Every one of us signed onboard to God’s eternal plan before we were born, like walking into the aerobics classroom. We all received a family, a body, and the ability to choose, much like picking the class you enjoy, securing a step and the number of risers to fit under it, and even the placement of the step within the class itself. We all have different talents and abilities, but we came to earth with the same goals of making it through this life as a better person. This resembles the workout too—everyone takes it at their own level with the desire to get in better shape. But what can we do about the cockeyed steps in the room?
In life we live and work with a number of people, many quite different from us. Some carry anguish of the heart. Others may experience hardships we may not know about. If we remember our neighbors are more like us than they are different, we can watch out for their spiritual step. When they get off kilter, we can be quick to show compassion. When their life is not quite balanced, we can offer a hand to help. When they irritate us, we can run to their aid with understanding and forgiveness rather than accusations and anger. And if we offer our best, keeping our love for them in the forefront, they may in time understand our motivation—the desire for them to finish this life with fewer spiritual injuries.
In turn, we must allow others to assist in bringing back the balance of our spiritual step. Just as we cannot see our own misaligned board in class, it may not be easy to see our needs and accept aid. We may deny the need or resent others for trying to help. But if our goals are the same, and ultimately they are, we might rethink the motives of others, give them the benefit of the doubt and be grateful for their help. Help may not come across as smoothly as we’d like, but that’s just because they’re still working on leveling out their own step.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has the power to heal all things—to bring every step back into balance. He trusts us to help Him with this plan by helping others along the way. Life is hard to handle alone. Let’s do our best to get through it together—sweaty, perhaps, but exhilarated and stronger than when we first began the journey.
This article was originally published in February 2014. Minor changes have been made. Lead image via Step It Up London.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.