Grace for Garett
Garett Bolles is a Latter-day Saint professional football player who plays offensive tackle for the Denver Broncos. He was a first-round draft pick in 2017 and was ranked as one of the best offensive tackles by sources like ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and NFL analysts Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks. His career has been a great one.
He has a great life off the field as well. He and his wife, Natalie, have two wonderful children. Their family is strong and active in the Church.
Garett’s life didn’t start out great, however. Things were rocky in the beginning. He came from a broken home and struggled with drugs, alcoholism, violence, and gangs. His father finally kicked him out of the house.
Fortunately, Garett was taken in by a family in his ward, the Freemans. They told him that if he was going to have a place under their roof, he needed to abide by some guidelines. These included being active in the Church, paying tithing, and turning in his phone at night. Garett agreed.
There were some rough times in his life, but Garett eventually gained a strong testimony and served his mission in Denver, Colorado.
After completing his mission, he played football at Snow College, then at University of Utah. When he was drafted by the NFL to play for the Denver Broncos, he endeared himself to many viewers by carrying his son with him onstage—Lion King style.
The commentators told Garett’s story and called it, “From Homeless to the NFL Draft.” And as he walked onto the draft stage, his son in his arms, Garett declared to the nation, “I’m here by the grace of God.”
Grace for All of Us
Many people see grace as God’s get-out-of-jail-free card. They see it as divine favor from a God who waves any requirement of keeping the commandments because He loves us just the way we are. But Garett Bolles has a clearer view. Grace is enabling power, divine assistance, an endowment of strength from a God who loves us enough to not leave us just the way we are.
Garett does not see grace as the absence of God’s high expectations, but the presence of His power. He knows that grace is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He has seen positive changes in his life that could not have happened without a connection to Christ.
In 2 Nephi 2:6 we read, “Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.” That phrase, grace and truth, is important enough that it is found in all the standard works (see John 1:4; Doctrine and Covenants 93:11; Moses 1:32). These words have great meaning—especially when they are coupled together.
Because Christ is full of truth, He saw that Garett was living below his potential and that he could become more than he was. He knew what Garett’s choices would mean to his posterity. Christ also sees us as we really are and as we really can be (see Jacob 4:13). He sees worth when we see worthlessness.
Because Christ is full of grace, He could share His vision with Garett and engage with him in reaching his potential. He helped Garett see that his life could be more meaningful than he ever dreamed, and He helped him make the needed sacrifices.
The Lord is willing to do the same for us. We can see Garett’s story as a great hope for our own lives.
Christ knows the greatness written in our spiritual DNA. And with His grace, He can and will unlock that greatness as we turn to Him.