Last week I began to ponder how the Atonement might apply currently to the struggles I’m facing. We’re taught that the Atonement is not only there for sinners, but for everyone who needs healing and reconciliation. I began to wonder how it might be possible to use the Atonement to reconcile myself to a God from whom I am distant and with whom I am very upset.
This was in the back of my mind as I went to church on Sunday. During fast and testimony meeting, I felt prompted to get up and share some thoughts. I got up, said I wasn’t going to share a standard testimony because I was in the middle of a crisis of faith. I talked about how faith is a risk, and that this past year, I took a leap of faith and ended up in a very confusing, difficult place. I talked about how now I’m questioning a lot of my beliefs, but that what I’m holding on to right now is a desire to believe, and right now, for me this is okay. Then I sat down.
As I was sitting in the pew after sharing my “testimony,” I started getting quite anxious. I had been really honest about how difficult I’m finding things spiritually right now. I had made myself quite vulnerable, and a large part of me wanted to run and hide. How were my ward members going to react? However, my anxieties were short-lived. Multiple ward members approached me after the meeting (and over the next couple hours) and expressed words of support, appreciation for my testimony, concern for me, etc. Many of the people who approached me with kindness and empathy were people that I had never spoken to before.
After regaining some composure in the hall for a few minutes after Sacrament meeting, I proceeded to Sunday School, where the class was discussing D&C 121 and 122, the sections on Joseph’s experiences in Liberty Jail. The teacher was focusing on questions of discipleship and the Atonement–primarily, how do we remain disciples of Christ when we reach difficult moments in lives and we feel like things are unfair? And how does the Atonement apply to these moments? The exact pertinence of the lesson and these questions to my life did not escape me.
The class had a multitude of great thoughts, and then the teacher ended by emphasizing the power of friendship and community. She talked about how peace came for Joseph Smith and the others in Liberty Jail through the kindness and love of their family and friends, and she talked about how we can remain disciples and access the Atonement through participating in a community and experiencing the support and love of our friends.
Everything came together for me in that moment. I recognized that while my relationship with God is still really difficult, I have been the beneficiary of an outpouring of love and support–essentially, the Atonement has been at work in my life through the people around me. The comments on my blog posts over the past 6 months have sustained and renewed me. My family and friends have blessed me with their patience as they’ve listened to me for hours as I’ve cried and talked to them about the complicated difficulties of my life. And on Sunday, my ward members reached out to me with compassion when they saw that I was struggling. I haven’t reached the end point of this journey yet, but I have realized how much grace I’ve been receiving from others along the way.
- 6 August 2009