Jesus Christ has risen today! Let me share a story of how I was raised from spiritual death.
Putting Our Trust in the Savior
We were a new congregation and I was asked to be the leader for the teenage girls’ organization. The Bishopric (what we call our local clergy over the congregation, consisting of a Bishop and two counselors) held a “Getting to Know You” fireside for the youth and their new leaders. In concluding the evening, the Bishop surprised me by calling me up to help demonstrate the concept of trust. He blindfolded me then asked me to fall straight backwards without bending my knees—he promised he would catch me. He and the leaders then began to joke. “Maybe you should move the end-table so she doesn’t hit her head.” “Quiet, or she’ll hear the Bishop sneak out.” “This is a plush carpet—she should be fine.” The kids found this quite amusing, but I was terrified.
While many people I know have been involved in trust-building activities in the past, I had not. I learned early on to trust only myself when it came to matters in life. Even as I gained a love for the Savior and I knew in my heart that we should “trust Him”, I never had to rely on that depth of trust in a live situation—until now.
In darkness, I froze with fear. Ridiculous thoughts kept running through my head—what if the Bishop doesn’t mean it? What if he won’t catch me? Then my head began to spin with crazy notions of spiritual symbolism, like falling away from the Savior or falling into a pit of emptiness never to be found. The kids were getting impatient with me, (“Come on, do it already!”) and it made my heart race faster. They’re mocking me, now, I thought.
I tried to fall—but it didn’t count, the Bishop said. I bent my knees. He made me do it again while everyone encouraged me to go for it. I locked my knees, spread my arms and let go. It felt like time had stopped, sound had ceased, and I was giving up the ghost. Then time resumed as I felt myself drop into his arms and he guided me gently to the carpet. I think people were cheering, but I couldn’t hear them. I took off the blindfold, looked up at my smiling Bishop and never again thought about falling in the same way.
No one wants to be vulnerable. Ever. To be vulnerable means you are weak, to admit you can’t do “it” on your own—whatever “it” is. Women especially hate to appear weak because that implies they are powerless and can be abused or controlled. If you are a woman who has ever been subjected to dominance, you especially fear vulnerability. A side effect of this fear is independence, which is good. But another side-effect is mistrust, which is not good at all—especially if you don’t trust the person who has the power and authority to save you.
I was profoundly affected by this little object lesson, probably more so than the youth. I stood face to face with a spiritual mistrust I didn’t even realize I had—a mistrust of the redemptive power of the Savior. I knew of His love, His miracles, His sacrifice and resurrection, all for humanity’s sake, but I didn’t believe His redemptive power was enough for me. I still thought I had to do “it” on my own. In this case, the “it” stood for saving myself.
Which ladder are you climbing?
Remember the parable of the man and the ladder from several weeks ago? The man was Christ and the ladder was the Atonement. The two planks of the ladder represented what He did for us—how He saved us from sin and death. The rungs represented what we do for Him—following the laws and ordinances of the gospel—in order to make it out of the pit and back to His presence again. As I looked back over my struggle with the trust activity, I realized I had been climbing up the wrong ladder.
Have you ever gotten on the wrong ladder? It may have the same two planks—what Christ did for us—but the rungs are all wrong. My rungs were based on my own independence, my own desire to save myself, my unwillingness to be vulnerable to the Lord. Pride in thinking I can save myself left no room for humility. Suspicion of others who say they are there for me left me alone—even void of the spirit. Being too independent, liberated from assistance when aid was most needed, left me in a state of helplessness—the very thing I feared most.
There are many ladders out there with the wrong rungs. The ladder of popularity, for instance is one. Do you do your good works to be seen of man rather than God? Christ warned of this when he described the hypocrites who prayed in public.
What about the ladder of keeping up appearances—when you think doing “good works” means doing “every good work known to mankind, all day long, every day, without rest”? This is a particularly destructive ladder. When you are on it, you don’t realize you are burning yourself out rather quickly. I know women who have left their faith because they were on this ladder so long; they thought they could never live up to impossible standards of perfection. They misunderstood—they were on the wrong ladder.
The rungs on the right ladder—Christ’s ladder—are meant to cleanse, purify, and bring you closer to the Savior. If your rungs are causing you to compare, compete, or become encumbered, you are on the wrong ladder. Unhealthy comparisons make for a divided congregation, family, and self. Repentance and the laws of the gospel are designed to heal, comfort, strengthen, and ultimately move us up the ladder to our heavenly home.
Today is Easter. All the Christian world is celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I invite you to take a moment and reflect on your beliefs. If you believe in Christ, if you believe He is who He says He is, if you believe He has the power to save you, then will you let Him? Will you look down at the ladder you’re on? If you are on the wrong ladder, will you trust Him to catch you when you step off and fall back into His arms?
Let this Easter be the starting point in your journey to trust Him again.
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.