My husband is an avid road cyclist and as a result I have spent a lot of time watching bike races, of both the broadcast and the live variety. Likewise, I have spent a significant amount of time listening (note: I said listening, not necessarily understanding) to him research all the equipment, and there is a lot of equipment.
One of the pieces of equipment that has been the most discussed in our household (due to the difficulty of finding shoes that fit his feet well) has been cycling shoes. Cycling shoes have very stiff soles and cleats that hook click into the pedals for maximum power transfer from foot to pedal. The stiffer the sole, the less energy gets wasted as you punch down on the pedal and therefore the more energy being directed to moving you forward, fast. Road bike frames are also usually quite stiff for the same reason (I recognize there are a few schools of thought on this). The bottom line is unlike most of us, who like some degree of comfort when we head out on a ride, a racing road cyclist is willing to sacrifice comfort in the pursuit of speed. Though I will say a well fitted road bike is more comfortable than you’d think.
In Relief Society a few weeks ago we were discussing Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In the ensuing discussion we talked about what a yoke was made out of. Yokes are carved from a single beam of wood fitted to an ox’s shoulders. I knew what a yoke was made out of, it wasn’t surprising, but for some reason the makeup of the yoke really struck me and reminded me of the purpose of cycling shoes. Yokes are not made of rope, or leather, or anything supple, but of stiff wood to maximize power transfer.
What is the yoke of Christ? We put on his yoke when we keep His commandments through our willing obedience, and in companionship with Christ we work to accomplish His purposes.
Heavenly Father is not in the business of giving us busy work to occupy our mortal lives. His plan is to provide us with the most efficient and effective way to return to, and become like, Him. That means our mortal lives include difficult trials and afflictions to teach us a lot in a short amount of time, appropriate but sometimes painful consequences to sin, and of course stiff and powerful commandments.
It is so tempting to think of the commandments as restrictive, however obedience to the commandments does not limit us, instead our obedience to the commandments maximizes our efforts into power to move us forward in the most efficient way possible.
I am not a perfect being, my obedience ebbs and flows, but I know that as I become more exact in obedience the power of the atonement infuses into my soul. It fills my every breath and action. It strips away the natural man and more fully reveals to me my divine and eternal nature. In those moments, I know I can successfully return Home.