It was the middle of July. The very middle. It was the part of summer when the Popsicle begins melting before you can even unwrap it from the package. I was straightening the house when my six-year-old daughter, Meg, came in and asked if she could teach my three-year-old, Grace, how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels on. Grace had begged for weeks to learn how and then had taken a serious fall, leaving her with cuts on her knees and elbows and no inclination to ever ride a two-wheeler again. Not wanting to put a damper on Grace’s newly lit enthusiasm, I told Megan that would be fine.
After about twenty minutes, I took a peek out of the front door just in time to see Megan running as fast as she possibly could, trying to catch up to Grace, who was riding like the wind, confidence filling the smile that took up her entire face. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the sight. Megan was jumping up and down with the excitement of great accomplishment as Grace turned the little bike around, pedaling with all her might. But that was not what made me laugh. It was the sight of Grace’s red face dripping with beads of sweat because she was clothed from head to toe in her pink winter snowsuit.
In an effort to ensure that Grace would not suffer a single cut, her brilliant sister had dressed her in snow pants, a parka, and a little pair of gloves to protect her hands. Every inch of her body was covered and protected in case of a fall. Never mind that it was ninety-five degrees outside; Megan was not going to let fear keep Grace from accomplishing what she most wanted to do. It took us several days, and a mysterious disappearance of the pink snowsuit, before we could finally talk Grace into riding her bike in summer attire.
What is it that holds you back from the things that you most want to do? Is it fear of disappointment? Worry that you might get hurt? Doubt that you might not be strong enough? Concern that what you receive in the end won’t be what you had anticipated when you began?
It is disheartening to me that we sometimes set aside what matters most because we let doubt, discouragement, or failure persuade us that it is no longer important to us. President Thomas S. Monson has counseled, “I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by.” Instead, he encourages, “may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most.”
I love reading through the Book of Mormon and watching the process each writer went through as he or she became a true follower of the Lord. There are lessons we can learn from their journeys. Their examples can become a pattern for us as we strive to follow the Lord.
In the book of Omni we read the testimony of Amaleki. He encourages, “And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel. . . . Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end” (Omni 1:26; emphasis added). The lesson I learn from Amaleki is to offer my whole soul. Every bit. To hold nothing back from this journey toward discipleship.
Caleb, my oldest son, serving a mission in Serbia, wrote in one letter to us about the stripling warriors: “Somehow these guys beat the odds. They did what everyone else would call impossible. Going to battle and not losing a single man? No way. But they did it. They beat the odds. It says in these verses that they had exceeding faith—and because of that they did not fear, they were obedient to every command, and they never doubted. It also says that their minds were firm—they did not waver or falter. I’ve thought a lot about what it means to have a firm mind. I think it means controlled, tempered, and directed to a purpose (a united purpose). They also put their trust in God continually—not just sometimes, not just when they were fighting, or when they needed help, always. Because they did these things, they saw a miracle. Through their faith in Christ, which their mothers had taught them, they beat the odds.”
Helaman records, “And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe. . . . Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually” (Alma 57:26, 27; emphasis added).
Think of the words exceeding faith. The definition for exceeding is “going over the expected limit.” How often do we set limits on ourselves? But the stripling warriors did not. Instead they exceeded the expected limit, and miracles came.
May we heed the advice of our dear prophet, President Monson, and “fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most.” This week, try not to let the most important things pass you by. Become a true follower. Be diligent in personal prayer and scripture study. Don’t let anything dampen your enthusiasm. Offer your whole soul. Don’t set any limits on yourself. Have exceeding faith. Go over the expected limit. Refuse to let fear keep you from accomplishing what you most want to do. If you have to, try wearing a pink snowsuit. It could work!