Applying the Atonement to My Life
This month, my focus is on the Atonement. Since it is “On My Mind”, I thought I’d encourage all of us to think a little bit about the Atonement and Christ’s role in healing us, enabling us, and helping us to improve our lives. There are so many Conference Talks out there on the subject of the Atonement (believe me…I think I have every Conference issue of the Ensign for the past 15 years at my bedside for my studying pleasure) which make the Atonement tangible, more understandable, and even more applicable in our lives. For this month’s Think & Share topic, I would like to challenge each of you to…
- Go out and find your favorite article about the Atonement.
- Read it, ponder it, and apply it to your life.
- Share which article you like with all of us (you can even share what you like about the article or why it is so meaningful to you).
Hopefully after this little exercise, we will have a list of things to read and we will be able to understand the Atonement better.
I’ll tease you with one of my favorite talks here. LOVE. IT.
I do not think that one can find any peace in infertility without the atonement. A little about our situation. In 2003, when my husband and I started talking about marriage, he sat me down and explained to me that due to the cancer treatments he received as a child, there was a chance he could not have children. I said I understood and knowing that he was blessed enough to not have any other side affects, figured everything would be fine and work out as I had always planned. We were happily married in December of that year.
In 2007 we finally got the tests results back, learning that a baby was not a gift we could ever give each other. Two weeks after that devastating news we bought a gym (in addition to our existing jobs) and two weeks after that I had my gall bladder out.
I was sick, overwhelmed, scared and brokenhearted. The years of trying to conceive were terrifying because I was always scared that this day would come. And I knew that when it did, that I would not be strong enough to bare it. I was not prepared for the heart ache, the self loathing, and the discrepancies between my feelings and those of my husbands. Why couldn’t he understand? Why did he pretend that everything was just fine? In retrospect, Josh had his whole life to prepare himself for this moment and he admits now that deep down, he always knew this would be.
And the truth is that he was never going to be pregnant anyway. He was not losing the opportunity to feel life grow inside of him. And he never had to refer to his sister’s experiences every time his friends talked about their pregnancies and delivery stories. In my mind, my life had ended. My most cherished purpose, the one I had prepared for my whole life, had been stolen from me. And I am ashamed to say that in my darkest moments I felt that God had failed me.
I spent many months wishing the sun wouldn’t rise because I didn’t think I would have the strength to make it through the day. For months I felt as if I was being dragged through each and every day. Then, slowly I realized I was crawling, and eventually walking, but not by my own strength.
I remember one afternoon going to the fridge and as I reached for the door this pillar of strength flowed into me with the words “This is because people are praying for you.” It was the first time in a long time that I remembered that I was not alone.
I had been praying, but not sincerely. I had turned off my emotions in an attempt to save myself from the pain, but in doing this I also blocked out all of the good as well. I remembered going to a baby shower years ago for a co-worker who had adopted an infant son. At her shower she had made a comment that she never fully understood the atonement until the moment that child was placed in her arms. I wondered about what she had said, but didn’t give it too much thought until right then.
The atonement, as too many forget, is not only for our mistakes but also for our heartaches, tears and struggles. The beauty of adoption is that it takes someone on both sides of the atonement and allows them to heal each other. On one hand you have someone like me: devastated, broken, and scared that I can never be whole again. On the other, you have some one like my birth mother (who I am still looking for): devastated, broken, and scared that she won’t have the strength to do what is best for her and her baby. Both of us in a place where only the atonement has the power to heal, one providing the other with a new life.
I have come a long way and it has nearly been three years since receiving that life altering news. My husband and I have been married 6 1/2 years and have a marriage that most dream of. We are so in love and know how precious we are to each other. We have learned to communicate and listen. He can always make me laugh and I am amazed at how perfect he is for me. I cannot wish that he had never had cancer and that we could have our own biological children because without that experience, he would not be the man I need him to be today. We are a team and know that we will always be there for one another no matter what. We are, hand in hand, walking the long road to adoption and supporting each other when we get discouraged about not having any end in sight (my husband is always more patient than I am).
And even on days like today when I am sad and longing for my arms to be filled, I know that my life is in God’s hands. I am learning to have faith in Him, to know that His way for me is better than my way. He really does know what He is doing because he knows me better than I know myself. And that as long as I open my heart to Him, the atonement really does have the power to heal any broken heart. As long as we keep our hearts open to Christ, we can not only be healed from our broken hearts, but be better for them.
Just like in the example Elder Bednar gave of Nephi praying for the strength to break his bands, we too need to pray for the strength to learn and grow from our experiences, instead of simply calling ‘uncle’ and asking for a different life. The lessons that I am learning are faith, and the healing power of the atonement. Both of these are lessons that I could not have learned as deeply any other way. And these are lessons I will need to be the mom my children will need me to be.