via fanpop.comOur Primary class used to meet in the church's kitchen. There was a shortage of classrooms in the building.
I remember sitting in the cold, metal folding chair next to my best friend as the teacher poured salt into her cupped hand.
"Isn't it pretty?" She asked, her voice soft and sweet. We all nodded. It was fast Sunday. Any kind of food -even SALT -looked fabulous.
"Now look..." the tone of her voice took a turn from soft to foreboding.
She sprinkled pepper in the salt.
"It's dirty now," she said, "That's what happens when we sin."
She then went on to tell us how to keep ourselves unspotted. Maybe the lesson was on the Atonement. I don't know. What I DO know is that the salt stuck with me.
Instead of seeing the pepper as an opportunity to draw closer to my Savior, I saw it as a huge no-no.
I would SAVE MYSELF from it, and I knew I could because I went to church every Sunday and worked hard to do everything right.
Working hard is what I DID. It's what my family did. I was up to working my way into Heaven.
No pepper for me! I'd make SURE of it.
I was never one to want to break rules. I had a conscience so big it fairly stomped on me. I never snuck out at night. Never ditched. Never talked-back. Got good grades. I was dead-set on working my way to Heaven.
I knew how to do it, too.
Church history, magnify my calling, serve, pray, love, show charity, do my visiting teaching, write in my journal every day, don't fight, read my scriptures, attend the temple, keep my surroundings in order, cook, sew, crochet, work on food storage, get my 72-hour kit, get married in the temple, have babies, FHE, tithing, the word of wisdom, tell the truth, watch only the best media, dress modestly...
The list went on. It weighed heavy on me at times. Most of the time, I considered myself as failing.
So, like anyone who is in the business of saving themselves, I punished myself.
I cut myself. My own sort of sharp lashings.
I knew the phrase "Saved after all I could do" meant that it was up to me to work out my own salvation... to be my own savior.
Saving myself meant judging myself.
Through it all, I did pray. But my prayers were more of a report than heart-felt communication. I spoke with only the utmost respect, using my very best Thee-Thous.
More than love, I sought gold-star stickers from the Lord.
The shame I felt as my own savior was immense. When I stepped out of line -even SLIGHTLY -I was encompassed about with shame. I took it out on myself because I knew... I KNEW it was my job to handle my own garbage.
I was responsible, and that's what responsible people do.
They don't bother others. They most certainly don't bother the Lord, who -by the way- had more important issues on His hands than my garbage. I knew it.
And so I would cut my shoulders which were always perfectly hid by all of my modest shirts, and I would feel immediate relief. Justice had been served.
As I begin my Step 4 inventory for the second time, I have more clarity.
So I sit down with a blank page and a pen and I write at the top of the page.
"How I Became My Own Savior"
Does your inventory have a title?