Zelophehad’s Daughters

Bafflement at the Atonement

Posted by Seraphine

This past month has been miraculous in unexpected ways. As I wrote recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Atonement. I realized this summer that the Atonement was probably the only thing that could heal my relationship with God–I knew the pain was too great for me to muster the faith to trust God again without some kind of help.

So, I started praying. Most of my prayers went something like this: “God I need your help. Things are kind of broken between us, and I’m stuck. I’m in so much pain, and I can’t make it go away on my own. I think I need the Atonement to bless my life, even though I’m not exactly sure how that’s supposed to happen, or if I’m supposed to do anything, or how this all works.”

Mid to late-August, I checked in with myself emotionally, and I realized that the vast reservoir of pain that I’ve been carrying for months years was so diminished as to be almost non-existent. It was quite a shock. There was no single moment when I felt like this changed. There were no direct spiritual witnesses, no definitive answers to prayers. I just woke up one morning, probed the wound (as I do once or twice a week), and realized that it was almost healed. And it felt like it happened out of the blue and on the sly–a quiet change, with no theatrics.

Although I have no direct witness (no voice from Heaven saying “this is God”), it is the only explanation that makes sense. I am bad about eliminating emotional pain from my life. I don’t deliberately hold onto it, but it tends to stay with me for months, even years. I was not capable of removing the emotional burdens that I’ve been carrying–I could barely function when I faced them head on. A higher power is the only thing that could have brought about this change, and within my religious tradition, the Atonement is the only explanation for the enormity of this miracle.

I still don’t fully understand why I had to go through the past three years of my life–a journey to depths I don’t think I fully realized at the time. I don’t understand why the blessings have come now, and so suddenly and relentlessly. Still, I am grateful. Baffled. Awed. Stunned. And grateful.

28 Responses to “Bafflement at the Atonement”

  1. 1.

    That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Seraphine.

  2. 2.

    Serphine,
    Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  3. 3.

    I’m very glad to hear that you’re feeling healed, Seraphine. Hugs to you. :)

  4. 4.

    (And on the broader question — sometimes when you find something that works, after such struggle, it’s best not worry too much about how or why. Enjoy your peace, Seraphine, you can worry about the theological ramifications later.)

  5. 5.

    “Mid to late-August, I checked in with myself emotionally”

    I do have to point out the alternative possibilities that you were healed by your excellent participation in the ZD panel, or by that awesome picnic lunch that we had, or possibly by the all around awesomeness of the FMHersnacker. :P

  6. 6.

    I just adore all of your strength and grace.
    (And for the record I agree with Kaimi.)

  7. 7.

    This is good news.

    And may I say that a plain statement like yours, in ordinary words rather than framed in the usual testimony language, and narrating a miracle as though it were as normal as, say, a broken bone knitting together, is peculiarly convincing of its sincerity. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. 8.

    As I read your post, I remember traveling a very similar path, but it was many years ago. Even though the years are many the blessings of that experience are cherished. The “power” acquired is still with me today.

    Painful experiences faithfully endured increase are capacity to be like God.

    One way to illustrate this is to think of a container with the capacity to hold a gallon. When the container is filled it can hold a gallon, it is full. There is no more room.

    The Lord seeing our capacity, as we see the gallon container, knows that experience will increase our capacity. His work and glory is to help us grow to become more like Him. In order to do this he allows us to have experiences that stretch our souls (D&C 122).

    When a difficult experience has run its course then the Lord will send a comforting spirit. I suggest that is what you’ve written about in this post.

    It may be that He will be far more available to your prayers now, than at any time during your period of trial. What your feeling now may be an invitation to draw nearer to Him.

  9. 9.

    Awesome! Hurrah!! ~

  10. 10.

    Thanks for sharing this, Seraphine. Beautiful, and what a wonderful experience!

    And I agree with Ardis; I really like how you explained your experience not in the conventional testimony language we’re so used to hearing.

  11. 11.

    Although of course I cannot know the particulars of your experience, I have had the experience of having something simply taken — without fanfare, only really discovered in retrospect, but something I knew I absolutely could not have changed on my own.

    Stunning, indeed.

    I have been very moved by what you have shared over the last while. Thank you.

    (and I agree w/ Ardis, too, and love how she put that into words)

  12. 12.

    Not much is better than unexpected peace.

  13. 13.

    Seraphine,
    Your words really touched me. It means so much more for me to read a sincere testimony like yours when I’ve followed your posts about your struggles for years.

    I am truly happy for you and wish I could just give you a hug.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I know that many people will find comfort and strength from your words.

    Best wishes in your continued peace.

  14. 14.

    Seraphine, thank you for sharing this personal and beautiful piece of your journey. I especially appreciate the details of your prayer, which has taught me today.

  15. 15.

    God is really gentle sometimes. I’m glad to hear that gentleness found you.

  16. 16.

    Thank you. I love the peace of a healed wound; you have full memory of what you suffered, and there may always be scars, but the hurt is gone. And through this grace, your capacity for compassion is expanded.

  17. 17.

    Seraphine,

    Thanks for sharing. What has happened is what is and what does happen to most of us. We ask “Lord take these burdens from me” and when we have been sufficiently humbled he does.

  18. 18.

    This is wonderful, Seraphine, especially in light of the long period of struggle you’ve experienced over this. And I agree with others that it was so well expressed, and is far more effective than a more formulaic “testimony.” Thank you so much for sharing, and may God’s blessings continue upon you..

  19. 19.

    <3

  20. 20.

    Happy Day Seraphine! I love this thought of the quiet normality of grace. It gets lost in our expectations for angels, but is significant and factual. We should do MUCH more teaching of this type of miracle than the Alma the Younger knock you down flat kind.

    I’m still nursing my wounds, I’ll have to follow your example.

  21. 21.

    “Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but they will always materialize if we continue to work for them.” Such are the promises of the love of the Saviour.

    I love to hear about the healing power of our Father in Heaven and the love of the Lord.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  22. 22.

    How perfectly you express this.

    The atonement, relying on the atonement, changes us. It makes us different people than we were. Paradoxically, most of this change happens when we’re focused on something else. It may be that it can’t happen while we’re watching; regardless, it doesn’t happen to me while I’m consciously looking for it.

    I gave a gift to God that I would be cheerful all the time, no matter what, and in return He gave me a gift that I would no longer ache to be important. I didn’t ask for that gift, but when I went to my store of selfishness one day to use some of it to say something nasty to my brother, I found that there wasn’t any in there anymore. While I was watching over there, God was over here working a great miracle.

    You too, huh?

  23. 23.

    Thanks, all, for your comments, and for the support and kindness you’ve offered me on this journey.

  24. 24.

    Seraphine,

    I can relate to what you are writing about. The Atonement really is the key to healing — both for the person who has been hurt, and the person who has caused the hurt.

    I have been the “victim” for lack of a descriptive word, and I have found that by looking to the healing I need, independent of any other event, I have found greater peace in who I am, and greater healing.

    I have also found that it is okay to be honest and forthright with God. He can take it. I tell him how I feel, even about my relatioship with him — which I continue to seek. I have worked on making my conversations with him more direct and a greater reflection of where I am it stead of feeling like I needed to hide it. Nothing is hidden from him, and when I put it out there, I give him permission to engage with me and do more for me.

    One of my favorite prayers is “Help me want to want to” and I have been amazed at the miracles that have come about because I prayed for that.

    In addition, when I say to him, “I don’t know what to ask for, I don’t know what to say, I just know that I need you and I need your help” I believe that I am opening the door and letting him in.

    Someone once did a lesson on agency and talked about when we enter into covenants with God, it allows him to be part of our life. It gives him permission to engage and even interfere a little. Our agency is so precious that he won’t force anything upon us, but he will be there.

    My heart has been all over the place for the last three years. There is much I don’t understand, and there is more for me to learn. But I have to believe that it will come. And I have to hope that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28) I have seen how this happens in my life, and I believe it is because of the Atonement and his ability to work with us when we call.

    I also believe what it says in D&C 50: 40-44. “ye are little children; and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.” I am grateful that I don’t have to know everything and that he will still take care of me.

    That’s a lot of words, but basically, you called to him and he answered. What a wonderful thing!

  25. 25.

    Thanks, Seraphine, for writing about your experiences so candidly. I really appreciate your honesty.

  26. 26.

    Thank you.

    This gives me some semblance of hope for myself.

  27. 27.

    Thank you, Seraphine.

  28. 28.

    Great point of view, thanks for putting this blog together.

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