‘You can’t earn your salvation’

By Kaitlin Klein

Wonderful Adventure

“You can’t earn your salvation.” My husband said this to me last week.

Indeed, I am not a pelagian.

Yet there I was, sharing how I felt overwhelmed and felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I lamented my struggles juggling being a good mom and a good friend, and keeping a clean house and spending enough time with my kids, and getting some time to myself; all the while trying to become a saint.

My best-made plans often fail — I mean, have to be adjusted. My to-do list is rarely (read: never) done, and when I’m trying to do housework but my toddler is begging me to play with her, I feel guilty with whatever decision I make. Among all of these earthly struggles, I was feeling disheartened that I wasn’t doing enough to reach my ultimate goal, to become a saint.

My dear husband listened to my many words, as he does so well, and simply said, “You can’t earn your salvation.” That made me stop and think. I know I can’t earn my salvation. But sure enough, I was expressing my desire to please the Lord and be the best person I can be and was worried I wasn’t doing enough. I was certainly doing many things, but at the moment I wasn’t feeling convinced that such ordinary tasks were bringing me closer to Jesus.

I was wrong. And I realized that I was plowing ahead with my day-to-day tasks – as much as I try to live for the Lord and see Him in each moment – trying with all MY might to do the right thing. But I am nothing without Jesus. I can do nothing without Him.

It was refreshing to change my mindset and let go, to surrender my day to the Lord. He has already forgiven me, given me the graces I need, and loves me enough to die for me, so I can take a deep breath and know that my efforts are pleasing to Him. As I try to surrender more and more each day and continually lift my heart to God, I can more clearly see how my everyday work and play is contributing to the making of a saint, in God’s good time, through whatever ways are necessary.

I heard a priest say in a talk that we should pay attention to Adam’s posture in Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel, a limp arm outstretched to Almighty God, surrendering to His will and His grace. We should act like this. I joined the group laughing at this priest’s impression of Michelangelo’s Adam, but it does portray stepping back and receiving all God wants to give. It almost seems counterintuitive, but if we are able to let go, the Lord will do amazing things through us.