The visiting teaching messages of the past many months have all focused on one or two aspects of Jesus Christ’s role. This month, the focus is on his role as Redeemer and Savior.
When discussing stories or attributes of Christ, I try to ask myself, “How does this affect my relationship with God? And how does this affect my relationships with others?”
As a visiting teacher going into the home of a sister, I would be careful in how I talk about redemption. A lot of the time, when we discuss how Christ redeems us, we talk about 1) our sins, and 2) the awful pain Christ went through. While very emotionally poignant, I don’t know how uplifting it is to talk about how much Christ suffered. And as far as sins, visiting teaching isn’t really the best place to share our sins. I might even propose that in our day to day lives, we don’t really “sin” in great ways. Usually, we aren’t out committing adultery, murdering, breaking covenants. We might rush a prayer, forget our scripture reading, or lose our patience in a long line, but in general, those seem so small and rather silly to think that Christ needed to suffer so much for those.
As I’ve pondered this visiting teaching message, I’ve considered why, despite the fact that realistically, I don’t “sin” grievously, at the end of most days, I don’t feel that great about myself. I don’t even feel neutrally about myself. Recently, I’ve been paying more attention to my negative self-talk (“I’m a terrible person”,
I’m so lazy and I wasted the whole day,” “I’m supposed to be good at doing this, but I can’t even do it right,” etc). There was a day when I said something to myself and I stopped and realized that if I knew my friends or children thought that way about themselves, I’d be really sad and want to shout, “No! That’s not how I see you at all!” But yet, that’s the lens I’m seeing myself through. As I’ve started paying more attention to my inner monologue, I’ve come to realize that my inner monologue is doing more for making me feel bad than my “sins” are. And that’s where I’m needing Christ right now. I need Christ to make up for where I’m putting unnecessary and excessive internal guilt and shame on myself.
If I extend this out to the “How does this affect my relationship with others?” question, my mind goes to think about how I can help others be “redeemed” from their own negative self-talk. For the children in my life, that means making sure I use self-positive language around them and with them, but it also extends to my adult friends. A couple of weeks ago, while having dinner with some women in my ward, we were passing around some cookies. I had already had 3 or 4, and for some reason, I felt like I had to verbally justify taking more (though seriously: no one cared). Right after I did so with a, “Well, I am going to be biking home from this!” one of the other women smiled at me and said, “You don’t need to justify it.” She’s right and I knew she was right. I was grateful that she pointed it out and it gave me a much needed boost. Helping each other out with the ways we put ourselves down will redeem us and lift us up.
Virginia U. Jensen of the Relief Society General Presidency wrote in 2000,
The cause of Christ-to redeem all souls- needs your strength, time, and talents in your homes and in your communities….We have ripples to make and water to share. Given our eternal heritage, we must remember how powerfully our simple, righteous actions can ripple through the hearts and homes of those around us. We have such a great opportunity to do so much good, and, most important, we know where and how to “draw water out of the wells of salvation.”
As we practice trying to be like Christ and act as “saviors” to the people around us, we have to remember that the attitude that we are going to “save” them is a bit conceited. But we can act as Christ and bear each others’ burdens and fill in the gaps when we see our sisters and brothers wanting.