Here I go again. I am coming to the realization to talk about the atonement in a meaningful way you kind of have to share your imperfect stuff that needs the atonement. So here goes.
The atonement of Jesus Christ works for sorrow, grief and pain. How can that be? How can I use the atonement to cover the grief, sorrow and pain I feel? How can I access healing through the atonement?
In this post I would like to talk about 2 ways we repent of sin so we are worthy of the spirit that comforts us in times of sorrow and heals us from our pain. The first form of repentance is from our own sin against right and wrong, the second form of repentance is from what I call the effects of life on our heart.
I think it is easy to understand how the atonement covers obvious sin: Christ suffered and sacrificed for our sin so if we will repent our sins can be forgiven and we can be free and clean of them.
The atonement is an actual power. It is Christ’s spiritual power that cleans, frees, holds, and carries us. It is all around us. We access it by asking our Heavenly Father to please apply Christ’s atoning blood to our life to clean and free us of sin or to carry, worry or hold whatever is pulling the spirit away from us. When we have used the gift of Christ’s atonement to make us clean, we are then worthy and capable of feeling the spirit. When we live with the spirit we are comforted in grief, we are calmed in stress, we are healed from disappointment and pain. That is how the God head work hand in hand; Christ cleans us, the Holy Ghost living in our heart allows us to receive and feel eternal perspective, love when under pressure, calm amidst chaos, peace in tragedy, strength amid loss, and hear Christ’s voice and words in our heart so that we learn and change. They are one in work and purpose; to make us holy. I believe all good comes from Christ and He is the love, peace, calm, comfort, strength, etc. But the spirit allows us to receive and feel Him.
To keep our hearts right with God and able to feel the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost we need to use the atonement not to just clean us from our sin, but to clean us from others sin and our loss from living in an imperfect world where mistakes happen, death occurs and tragedy strikes. The effect of this imperfect life on our heart can be damaging to our ability to feel the spirit. We can be filled with disappointment, frustration, anger, grief, sorrow, bitterness, pride and general pain, from loss, disappointment, offenses, unmet needs, unrealized expectations, etc.
Remember in the first atonement post I said, “Our Saviors atonement is for anything in our lives that cause us to feel a loss of the spirit.” Many times pain causes us to withdraw from God, loss and disappointment cause us to question God, unmet needs and offenses can cause us to become bitter against God or our fellow man. The effects of our imperfect life and the imperfect people around us can cause us to become hardened, closed, angry, or bitter. We aren’t really repenting of the loss, disappointment, unmet needs, etc. We are repenting of what they may be doing to our heart. We don’t think of bitterness, anger, hurt feelings or pride as sins but they are. Those feelings keep us from God and feeling His spirit. We have to be humble, soft and open to feel and learn from the Holy Spirit. No matter what hard, unfair thing happens to us we must stay worthy of the spirit. If we don’t, we live with pain and, “tarry in the wilderness”. (That means we don’t progress in our journey.)
Repentance means to change. This kind of repentance gives all of that pain, hardness, and anger to God and seek a change; turning to Him instead. We express in humility our trust in His plan for us; tell Him of our love and commitment to follow Him and His way, no matter what happens in our life. We want to be soft and open and receive His spirit more than we want to hold on to the pain of our loss, disappointment, others offenses against us, our unmet needs, and unrealized expectations, that is causing the pain.
Once we repent, turn to God, restore our faith and humility in His plan and His way then we become soft and open to feel the spirit. (This is the part about how the atonement covers grief, sorrow and pain.) When you are free to feel the spirit, He will comfort you, give you spiritual knowledge that changes your perspective from earthly to eternal, heals you from anger and bitterness and restores you to love. It is a wonderful spiritual experience to feel this change in your heart.
Repentance means to change. I can talk about this all day long since I am the poster child for change. But I will just give one example. I have to talk about some personal things to share this but I will try to be respectful of my children since this example talks about them.
In the summer it felt like our whole world was falling apart. Every one of our children was struggling with something. Some things were little things like the loss of a job for a son who is a father and husband-to more serious things like struggles for a boy on a mission who couldn’t get a break in any way for a year, who finally came home early,- to a very serious situation with a child killing himself spiritually and physically with choices we had no control over- and all the other things in between that would make this post way to long if I talked about.
We were so confused. It was so difficult. Our lives felt like a soap opera for a while. Every day we would serve and then come home and find out some other problem or concern we needed to face. We were in the midst of a very hectic schedule in a spiritually demanding position, giving our all for others and yet we felt like ours were not being taken care of.
I had a lot of questions for God at this time. Most of the questions centered on why. Our most serious concern came because of serving this mission and living here in Spokane because of the effects it had upon a child. It all came to a head 1 ½ years later last summer and we were being stretched further than I could ever have imagined happening.
I felt we were living in a nightmare we couldn’t wake up from but had to be spiritually and emotionally in tune every day, all day long. I came to really feel the Lords love for the missionaries more powerfully than I ever had before. He blessed us beyond belief to meet needs, give trainings, speak with the spirit, and perform our duties all amidst the turmoil of facing hard things everyday with our children. I felt I was seeing a miracle everyday as we could focus on others and feel the spirit work through us. I absolutely know the Lord loves these missionaries as we were made instruments over and over in spite of us, not because of us. His love is real!
But, the why questions persisted. I could feel the edge of my heart hardening. I hated it, but it was there. I could feel I was becoming stressed, emotional, distracted, doubtful and becoming a little negative. We were trying to solve family problems but sometimes that creates more problems in the moment. This was when I woke up at 2:30am one night and started to read some scriptures seeking for relief. I kept feeling prompted to read back in my journal. I finally put my scriptures down and opened up to a passage I had written after the mission president’s seminar last year. It read, “ I am overwhelmed with all of the expectation being placed on us. I don’t know how we are going to accomplish all that is expected with all of these young, new missionaries. I almost feel depressed by all we were facing. Tonight I knelt down in prayer and poured my heart out to the Lord. I could see my faults and weakness clearly and I felt sorry and sad about my attitude. I plead in my misery for the atoning blood of Christ to be applied in my life. I knew Christ’s atonement was the only way to free myself. I felt I could just give this all to him; my concern, my worry, my hardness, my fear, my tired mind and body. I knew He would take it, so I was pleading for that to happen, along with strength and inspiration to keep going. I was interrupted by Don and had to leave for a minute. I came back in to finish my prayer and I noticed I felt so much better. I started to think on how I had felt; apologizing that I am continually asking for more when I have been given so much already. Again I felt all of it was gone. I couldn’t even talk to God about it anymore. There was no point it was gone. I felt so good. I wasn’t tired or burdened; I wasn’t depressed, I just felt great, that fast. It was amazing!”
After I read this passage I felt God was speaking to me, telling me what to do. I was so burdened down with grief and sorrow, my heart was so confused and troubled. I went and got on my knees. I knew I needed to repent. I didn’t really even know what for; I just knew I needed to change. I needed to re-set and start again. I had to be free of the pain, sorrow, and stress so I could feel the spirit. I prayed and cried and asked what I needed to repent of. As I prayed I felt the Lord reveal to me my pride, the barrier I had created between me and God. I wanted my perfect plan for my family to be realized. I had this mission, and how my family would be during these three years, all planned out in my mind. And trust me it was a great plan. It was going to be so good; just perfect. Why was everything falling apart? Why were we called at this time, to this place that had affected my son so negatively? How are we going to pick up the pieces? These are all the questions that put a barrier between me and God. I wasn’t trusting in Him. I wasn’t accepting His timing. I couldn’t see any blessings. I even had a deep, hidden thought that He wouldn’t bless us. I had lost some of my faith and hope. I knew the why questions were pride in thinking my way was best and not wanting or accepting what I was given. I was not accepting God’s plan for me to be on this mission. I could see I needed to repent of pride, and turn to God.
I didn’t receive answers at this time, I just felt I gave my every concern, worry, and question to Him. I just plead to be forgiven and my heart to be soft and open and receive what He had for me and then said, “I’ll hold on, I trust you, please show me the way.”
The same thing happened that I had read about in my journal. I immediately felt so amazing. I went from so low, to so high almost instantly. I felt free like I was flying. I needed the spirit so badly; as I repented the spirit came so strongly.
One of the things I realized while I prayed was this wasn’t God’s perfect plan for our family. He didn’t orchestrate these bad things to happen. We live in a fallen world, surrounded by fallen people. God allows us to experience life. That is His plan. But He promises us that if we will use the gift of His son He will clean us and free us so the spirit can touch our hearts and change us.
This experience happened a few months ago. The answer to hold on and trust Him that He would get me there has been realized over and over. I have tried to stay soft and open, and gradually answers have come, I have been able to see blessings, I have been strengthened over and over, and I have recognized His hand in important ways. I know these are gifts of the spirit that bear testimony that whatever we face in life we can be get through it and come out of it with spiritual knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s love and awareness of us, of the power of Christ’s perfect gift to us, and the essential realization that living with the spirit is the greatest necessity to the success of our life. It gives strength, confidence, comfort, eternal perspective, and peace.
What I know is I need to use the atonement sacredly every day to be clean, and free of sin in all its forms. When I live worthy of the spirit I can be healed of my sorrow, grief, pain, disappointment, and heartache. I can’t express how vital I feel this is to a meaningful and inspired life full of love and happiness.