So, we were in Institute today, discussing Isaiah, Jesus, and the Atonement. I love institute, by the way, it's such a fun experience. Even the not-so-fun experiences are good.
Anyway, we started talking about personal purity and personal righteousness, specifically enduring to the end. We discussed the nature of enduring to the end... that it doesn't mean merely gritting your teeth and pushing through. It means accepting all that the Lord places before you.
Too often we get into the rut of feeling we must do everything. We have to be the best student, worker, father, mother, son, daughter, sibling, spouse, friend, we have to be the best in our callings, clean the house, write your journal, food storage, family prayer and scripture study... an endless list of dos and don'ts. And all of those things are important, it's important for us to strive our best, it's important for us to try to keep every commandment; to be perfectly obedient. It's also never going to happen.
We are human. We stumble, we fail, we fall. That doesn't make perfection any less of a worthy goal, but it does put it out of our reach. We will always fall short. Because of our fallen state, we are incapable of doing our best.
How can I know I've done everything I can? I asked myself this often on my mission. For some reason it seemed to me I could never do enough, say enough, preach enough, keep enough rules, meet enough goals to attain that one, great, truly worthy goal of bringing souls unto Christ. The problem was that I was trying to do the work.
To me, Enduring to the End isn't about suffering through pain, or doing all you can. Pain hurts, and doing all I can... I will never feel as if I have achieved that. The great part is, I don't have to.
To me, Enduring to the End is about orientation- an orientation towards Christ. It is about realizing that God knew we would make mistakes and provided a way out for us. It is about realizing that our salvation is not dependent on what we can do, but what Jesus did for us.
Enduring to the End isn't about getting up when you've fallen, or walking instead of running forward. It's about moving in the right direction... it's about being pointed in the right direction.
What the Atonement means to me is that, even when I can't forgive myself, God has forgiven me. The saving grace of Jesus means to me that when I am week, he is strong. It means that I CAN forgive myself, and others. I can forgive others for the hurtful, terrible things they say to me. I can forgive them for hurting my loved ones, even, although that is more difficult. I can forgive myself for causing harm, and I can forgive others for the same. Because of the Atonement of Jesus the Christ, I can reach out to others.
Because it's not really me doing it. Anything I've ever said helpful to another human being has come from a higher source. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me," not because I am strong, but because He is. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. Next to that, what are we? What can we ever do to compare to that?
Jesus broke the bands of death. What bands have I ever broken by myself? That is how I Endure to the End, not by relying on myself, but by focusing on Him. I make mistakes, but He never did, and He can fix the mistakes I have made.