Is the end of January about the time you get sick of winter? I guess if you love skiing and snowboarding you might never want winter to end, but for me at least, winter definitely gets old. I find myself wishing more than anything that I could go on a walk or hike without having to bundle up in a coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and boots to walk outside for very long.
But, to be honest, when the warm weather is here, how often do I actually go on walks and hikes? I enjoy them, for sure, but I don’t always make the effort to go outside and enjoy the sunshiny, warm weather.
Maybe I’ll change that this summer.
Or what about this – I was talking to a friend about rice crispy treats. She pointed out that they are so easy to make and so good, but she never makes them. And I never do either. Instead, we’re both more likely to make chocolate chip cookies (also really good), but why do we limit ourselves to certain things instead of remembering and making other easy dessert options?
Okay, so what’s my point?
It might seem like it has very little to do with summer and rice crispy treats, but here it is: Is Christ like summer and rice crispy treats here?
In other words, do we want to have a strong relationship with Christ, but at the same time do we not take advantage of the simple opportunities we’re given to build that relationship with Him?
I think the answer to that can change based on our current circumstances. Sometimes in life, it’s easy to make the effort to build our relationship with Christ – and other times it feels almost impossible.
But if we do want to follow Christ, why don’t we? Why is it sometimes difficult to do what we need to do to be close to Him?
Here are some thoughts:
We Haven’t Asked God
In the Book of Mormon, Nephi has a conversation with his brothers, who tell him that they don’t understand the teachings their father, Lehi, had told them. Before explaining anything, Nephi asks them a question:
8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?1 Nephi 15:8
Such a simple question. And such a simple action – ask the Lord.
There might be a lot of questions that are blocking us from a close relationship with Christ, such as:
- How do I take the gospel/Atonement/Christ for granted?
- How do I stop taking these things for granted?
- Why am I going through this trial?
- Do I matter to Christ?
- Do I have a testimony of Christ and the gospel?
- What am I missing in my life, and how do I get it?
- How do I need to change or progress in my life?
And so on. Seriously, there are so many questions that could get in the way of us coming close to Christ – if we don’t ask the Lord for answers.
Once we ask, God is willing to give us the answers we’re seeking. We might not learn immediately. We might need to study and learn and ponder. But the answers will come. And as long as we are looking for answers, questions will no longer be roadblocks – they’ll be steps toward Christ.
We Forget the Everyday Things
The gospel is pretty simple. And building a relationship with Christ is simple as well. We just need to repeatedly do simple things every single day.
The problem is that there are a lot of other things we need to do every day as well, like cooking, cleaning, studying, running errands, caring for our families, going to work, showering, keeping up with friends, driving, going to appointments, taking classes, checking emails, and on and on. Honestly, the list could go on for who knows how long.
With so much to do, we have to decide what’s most important. I’m NO expert at this, but it is true. And if we want to build our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can’t let all the other things get in the way of the truly important things.
Even with crazy long to-do lists, we need to make sure that prayer, scripture study, listening to the prophet and apostles, pondering, serving, attending the temple, and sharing the gospel are on our list. Here’s some good news: most of these things can be combined with other things on your list.
For example, try listening to talks while you get ready or drive. Pray throughout the day, when you’re grateful for something or need help with a task. Ponder your questions and studies as you do chores around the house. Serve your families, friends, and coworkers as you go about your normal schedule. Share the gospel by example everywhere you go, and be willing to talk about it when it naturally comes up in conversation.
Find ways to simplify. When you do so, you not only become closer to Christ, you also keep up your sacramental covenant to always remember Christ. He’ll be more of a focus in your life, in everything you do, and you’ll still be able to do the other things that you need to do.
And if some things don’t get done, consider whether they were really necessary in the first place.
We Think We Can Come Closer to Christ on Our Own
It’s pretty easy to think that we don’t need to do the everyday things or ask God for help because we think we can come closer to Christ regardless of those things. True, God always loves us, even when we’re not doing the things He asks us to do. But even though it only takes simple things, building a close relationship with Christ is tough to do alone.
After all, relationships are two-way things. We can’t avoid putting effort into the relationship and assume it will be strong. And we can’t become close with someone if we don’t let that person be close to us.
We need Christ, His Atonement, and His gospel to build a close relationship with Him. He won’t force those things onto us, so we have to have the independence to choose to build that relationship with Him.
He helps us build a relationship with Him because He wants a strong relationship with us as much as, or probably more than, we do. So allowing ourselves to become a team with Him will strengthen us more individually, and it will strengthen our relationship with Christ more as well.