I used to think that I was some kind of modern-day superhero. Not the kind that wears a cape, but more like a person that fixes everyone else’s problems. In my leadership roles, I noticed those that were struggling and would either 1. Beat myself up that they made choices that lead to unhappiness or 2. Wonder how I could keep everyone happy all the time. I wanted to save everyone.
It wasn’t until my second year of college, that I understood how damaging this mindset is. I was sitting across from my institute teacher expressing my concerns for different people in my life, when he said firmly, “Moriah, you can’t save anyone. Only the Savior can do that.”
What did he mean? Of course I could. I could love them, pray for them, let them cry on my shoulder, make cookies for them, give them compliments, and share the gospel with them. I couldn’t believe that he was telling me that my efforts to take care of those around me were in vain. This is when I realized that even as a life-long member of the church, I still had so much to learn about the Atonement.
In Mosiah 16:13 it says “And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?” Article of Faith 3 states: We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” So my institute teacher was completely right, but how could I reconcile this with wanting to help those around me?
There were three solutions I came up with to help me overcome this mindset:
1. I am NOT responsible for anyone’s salvation but my own.
Maybe this seems obvious to you, but it was something I have really struggled with. It wasn’t up to me to make sure that the people I had stewardship over made righteous decisions. I could teach the doctrine, be a good example, and love them unconditionally and then the rest was up to them. Heavenly Father respects every human’s agency, and I needed to as well.
2. Love people despite their choices.
Something parents understand that I can’t fully grasp yet is that you can love someone, but not agree with their choices. You don’t have to agree with someone’s lifestyle to love them. I realize that this can be a hard concept to grasp, especially in a world that preaches that tolerance and love are one in the same. God loves us despite the mistakes we make, and I needed to see people for who they really are and not by a decision they made.
3. You are NOT a failure because of the choices of others.
A friend and I once had a discussion about righteous parents whose kids go astray. She pointed out to me that Heavenly Father, who is a perfect parent, had a third of his children go astray. The choices of that third in no way reflect his love, teachings, and example. In the last General Conference, Elder Jorg Klebingat of the Seventy said “Some trials come through your own disobedience or negligence. Other trials come because of the negligence of others or simply because this is a fallen world. When these trials come, the adversary’s minions begin broadcasting that you did something wrong, that this is a punishment, a sign that Heavenly Father does not love you. Ignore that! Instead, try to force a smile, gaze heavenward, and say, “I understand, Lord. I know what this is. A time to prove myself, isn’t it?” Then partner with Him to endure well to the end”. How successful we are as a disciple of Christ is not dependent on how others around us act.
I’ll admit, this is still hard for me. I want to change the world, and help everyone in it. But I know that sometimes just loving people and striving to be an example is all I can do. I can love those around me even when they make mistakes, and I don’t have to take it personally. I can rely on the Savior to save all of us through the Atonement, because we all are dependent on His grace and love. So maybe I can’t save anyone, but I sure can point them to the one who can.