Tag Archives: Atonement

Suicide and the Atonement

Today in church, we watched a video of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Before they enter the garden, he says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” When I heard that, I thought, “I know how that feels.” That’s what I felt like with suicide. The longer I watched, the more it seemed to apply.

Christ’s experience in the garden was much like my experience with suicide attempts. He asks his disciples, his friends, to tarry and watch with him. Even though they want to, even though they would do anything for their beloved leader and friend, they fall asleep. They cannot be there for him like he wants and needs them to be. The same was true of my friends. They wanted to be there for me in my darkness, but they couldn’t.

Christ goes back to them looking for emotional support and asks, “Could ye not watch with me one hour?” I have felt like that many times in my darkness. Could my friends not be there for me in that moment I desperately needed them? Could they not just stay with me for a little while until the pain had passed?

The part that affected me most though, was when the angel comes to strengthen Christ. During one of my suicide attempts, Christ was my angel. He came and strengthened me and gave me the hope to stop trying to die, at least for that night.

That’s what I want you to know about the atonement and suicide. Christ understands. He has walked the long and lonely road so that he could know how we feel. He won’t leave us alone because he knows what it’s like to face the pain alone. He knows the heaviness and weariness. He knows what it’s like to fall to your knees and beg for any other way.

“Because the Savior walked such a long and lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to.” He will succor us. He will be there for us. As someone who has contemplated suicide multiple times and attempted suicide more than once, I can honestly say that Christ understands and will be there for you. That’s what Easter means to me. It means, I need never be alone because there is one who will always understand.

This is the Christ

There are some spiritual experiences that cannot be recorded. We feel them. We hold them. We treasure them. Then they leave us, sliding like water through our fingers. But we remember a glimpse of that feeling. We remember bits and pieces of the precious moments we spend with the Savior. We remember a portion of the burning of our hearts, a part of the love or joy or comfort we have felt.

Tonight, I cannot express the least part of what I feel. But what I have felt, I know I must share. Tonight as I experienced Christ’s life in a new way, in a sensory, emotional experience, I was filled with renewed love and understanding of my Savior.

I saw him as a father, holding out his arms to greet his little children. I saw him laughing and hugging the little ones that scrambled for his attention, just to be close to him and feel his presence.

I saw him as a friend, reaching out to comfort someone in need, giving counsel as necessary and love at all times.

I saw him as a person, a human in his pain and suffering. I saw him struggle to bear his burden, to fulfill his purpose. I saw him plead for any other way. I saw him ache for comfort, for relief. I saw him trying to take his mind off of the pain as they beat him over and over again.

I saw him stumble under the weight of his cross, so exhausted that he could not hold his own weight, let alone the weight of his cross. I heard him gasp as the nails pierced his hands, wrists, and feet. And I cried as he forgave the Roman soldiers that took part in his crucifixion.

And then, as I felt the power of the stone being rolled away, as I rejoiced with the angels at his resurrection, I felt that he was not holding out his arms to reach out to me, but rather running with arms outstretched to welcome me home. This was not a passive moment. This was not Christ allowing me to come to him, but rather him running to me, as he has always done. This was Christ running to greet me, to love me, to comfort me, as he has done every second of every moment of my life when I have needed him, or wanted him, or asked for him. No, Christ would not wait to hug me when I see him again. He would run to me. And I would run to him because I cannot bear to be away from my best friend.

This is the Christ. This is the Christ I know. He is not a passive being. He is not one to wait. He is one who seeks. And as he seeks me, I will seek him because there is no one who makes me happier than Jesus, the Christ, my savior and redeemer, my hope and my salvation.

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Becoming Amazing

I went to a retirement party last week for one of my friends from work. It was interesting to me how no one really talked about what she did at work or about her work ethic. Instead, they talked about her Christ-like service and love and the way she kept the spirit with her. I couldn’t help thinking, “I want to be like that someday.”

There are amazing people in my life, and there have been amazing people in my life. I always wondered what it took to be like them. I wondered if I could ever be like them and how I could work towards that goal. What I have realized is that it is the choices people make that make them amazing.

It is my belief that there is nothing inherit about a person that makes them amazing, at least no more so than the rest of us. The fact that we are alive and breathing is in itself an amazing thing, but what is it that makes us look up to and admire others? It is their choices.

The people I admire most have chosen to follow God. They consistently make or have made choices to serve God and those around them. When I see that service and I see their love for those around them, I just think, “I want to be like that.”

The truly amazing thing is that I can be. By consistently choosing to follow Christ, by being observant and responding to people’s needs, by relying on the strengthening and enabling power of the atonement, I can be like the people I most admire. And more importantly, I can become like the person I admire most, Jesus Christ. And you can too.

But if Not

Live freely. Live joyfully. Live like you know the plan God has for you.
But… Don’t be afraid to hurt. Don’t be afraid to break. Don’t be afraid to be lonely.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is where Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo say that the Lord is able to deliver them, but if not, they will still only worship God.

I think about that over and over with my trials. Sometimes, the answer is a pure and simple no. Sometimes God says something like, “No, you need this more than you need me to take it away.”

I know it’s hard to believe. I get it. How can something this hard or this painful possibly mean that God loves you? But I believe it. Yes, God could take away all my problems, but the fact that He doesn’t is not an indication that He doesn’t care or that He isn’t there.

I have asked for God to take away my autism, depression, gender identity issues, and health problems. So far, the answer has been no. I can’t explain how grateful I am for that though. I don’t know who I would be without all of these problems, or the good that I could do if I didn’t struggle with these things. However, I do have a glimpse of the good I have done because of my problems.

I know I have saved lives, changed people, given hope, been an example, and made a difference- all because I suffered. So, when I get a no answer, or when I ask for a yes, I’ll continue to say, “but if not, I’ll still believe,” because I know that God has a much bigger plan for me.

Life isn’t always easy. It gets hard and you forget how to breathe sometimes. But there is a God who loves you, and He can carry you through and lift your burdens so you can hardly feel them, but if not, know this… it will be for the good. Maybe not necessarily your good, at least not at first… but someone’s good.

Condescension of God

To fully understand this post, you should read 1 Nephi chapter 11, especially verses 13-23. You can access it by clicking here.

Today at church we discussed 1 John 4:9-10.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

This verse reminded me of 1 Nephi chapter 11. In that chapter, Nephi is trying to understand a dream his father had. He sees the tree of life with fruit that is sweet above all, but doesn’t understand what that tree or the fruit symbolizes.

He is shown the virgin Mary and asked, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” He responds, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” Nephi then sees that Christ is born and understands that the tree symbolizes the love of God.

It is interesting to me that after seeing Christ come into the world, Nephi immediately understands that the most precious thing available to us is the love of God. That event is so important because of everything that happened because of it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.”

The love of God isn’t just precious because of what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ did for us, but also because we can spread that love to do good to others.

Christ coming to Earth was a condescension because he gave up the glory of being God. Coming to Earth was not a step down for us. It was a step up, an ascension, because Christ stepped down to lift us up. We came to Earth to become like God. He came to Earth to become like us. So that he could understand us and love us, and to let us know that he understands and loves us.

So how can we condescend like Christ did for us?

By helping others up. Going to their level, having compassion, suffering with them to show them love.

In this Christmas season, I hope you are reminded of how much God loves you. I hope you are reminded that Christ’s birth was the ultimate symbol of God’s love because it led to the ultimate sacrifice because of that love. I also hope that you spread that love. Christ came to give us hope, to give us purpose, to give us a reason to keep trying. I hope that we can do the same for others.

A Broken Heart

There are times in my life when I have been so incredibly happy that it seems nothing can bring me down. I just love life, and I love people, and everything is good. During some of these times, I have wondered what it means to have a broken heart as it says in the scriptures. How can we have a broken heart when we are happy? How can we feel broken when we have become whole? I can’t explain everything I have learned about this concept, but I will explain what I feel pertains most to us in the world right now.

I think having a broken heart doesn’t mean that you feel broken all the time, but rather that your heart is capable of breaking. I think about when Christ wept with Mary and Martha because Lazarus died. He knew that it wasn’t permanent and that Lazarus would live again, but he wept because his heart broke with theirs. He had compassion. He suffered with them.

I think about all of the bad things going on in the world right now. The terrorist attacks all over the world, refugees fleeing from their homes, shootings that happen every day break my heart. I cannot think about all of the bad things that happen every day. I do not listen to or watch or read the news and I avoid it for the most part because I cannot handle my heart breaking that much.

The beautiful part about all of this though is that we go to Christ with a broken heart, not because he wants our hearts to be broken but because he wants to make us whole. Christ came to Earth, lived, and died so that we can be whole. Yes, we sacrifice to God a broken heart and a contrite spirit, but not because God wants broken hearts. God wants whole hearts, we just sacrifice the brokenness of them.

I hope that this Christmas season and all year long, we will be willing to not harden our hearts to the bad things in the world but instead let our hearts break and take that brokenness and sacrifice it for the one who understands all brokenness. May your heart be made whole as you allow it to be broken for the suffering of the world. And in the breaking of our hearts, hopefully we will allow the healer of all hearts to help us heal and help others. Hopefully, we choose to allow that brokenness to move us to do good and to be better, and maybe one day the sacrifice of our broken hearts will have helped many hearts become whole.

Learning About God

Sometimes you pray to know God.

Sometimes you pray to know yourself.

Over the last few years, I have prayed a lot to know God. But recently, I have been praying to know myself. And in the process, I discovered something that I didn’t realize before- I’m too smart for my own good. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. I mean it literally.

Throughout my life I have sought for knowledge above everything else. I wanted love; I wanted to be understood; I wanted friendship; I wanted help; I wanted so many things that I didn’t understand. And I thought that maybe if I could understand them, I could figure out how to receive them. If I just knew enough about love, maybe I could figure out how to make myself lovable. If I knew enough about God, maybe I could figure out how to be like him.

What I have realized though is that you can’t learn enough about certain things to make them happen. You can learn about chemical reactions and what causes them and then initiate some reactions, but no matter how much you learn about the sun, you can’t initiate or replicate its heat. You may get close, but you will never completely succeed.

The same is true with God. You can learn about God. You can learn a lot about God. But… that knowledge won’t initiate his grace or replicate his glory, at least not on its own. Only Christ and his atonement can initiate the process of change within us. Learning about God does not make me like him. In fact, it almost makes me less like him because some things can only be understood on the spiritual level and as long as I keep trying to understand it intellectually, I can’t fully accept it spiritually.

So recently, I have been trying to learn less about God and more about myself. The more I am learning about myself, the less I want to be like me. And that is really the most amazing part about all of this. God shows me who I am so that he can show me who he wants me to be. And as I learn to see my flaws, I learn to rely more on God, which teaches me more about him than I ever learned by reading and studying about him. I am learning to learn less and feel more, and as I am doing so, I am learning more than I ever thought I could.

Less of Me

I posted yesterday about how Christ chose to be less and became more because of that. I briefly discussed how I need to become less so that Christ can help me become more. I want to continue that conversation today.

It says in the scriptures that the natural man is an enemy to God. I would sometimes think of this and think that I wasn’t so bad. I thought that I don’t really have an inclination to do evil so how can that be an enemy to God? The more I learn of myself and God, the more I learn that the natural man is an enemy to God.

I am not a bad person. I enjoy helping others and being friendly and understanding. However, I am also very selfish. I want recognition, praise, love, admiration, and the feeling of being wanted. Those are things we all want. They are natural. So… how do those things make us an enemy to God?

The more we seek for these natural desires, the farther we stray from the desires God wants us to have. God wants us to love others.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

None of those things are natural. I don’t want to bear all things. I do seek my own. I am easily provoked. And I fail all the time.

The great thing is that I don’t have to be like this. I don’t have to keep my natural desires and inclinations. I can choose to go to Christ and allow Him to change me. I can choose to be less of me so that I can become more of Him.

So my goal is to become less of myself in order to become more of Christ, until I find myself by becoming lost in Him.

Less is More

The other day in my class about Jesus Christ, our teacher slipped on her words and accidently said that Christ lived a sinful life instead of a sinless life.She was pretty embarrassed and pointed to Satan and said he was the sinful one and Christ was sinless; then went back and forth saying full (pointing to Satan), less (pointing to Jesus). It was pretty amusing at the time, but I have been thinking about it a lot since then.

What has struck me is that Jesus made himself less. He chose to be less so that he could be more. Satan chose to be more and ended up becoming less. Satan is indeed full- full of pride, full of sin, full of hate, full of envy and malice. All of this fullness leaves Satan in emptiness.

Christ on the other hand, has become everything by choosing to be less- sinless, selfless, and tireless in his service to others, devotion to the Father, and willingness to sacrifice all that is required. By being less of the world, he became more of the Father. My favorite thing about Christ though is not only that he was humble and selfless, but that he taught that life was about the least of things. He taught about serving the least, becoming as a child, and keeping even the least of the commandments.

In my life I feel like I’m always trying to be more. I try to learn more, be more spiritual, make more friends, be better, and simply do more. It’s all good things. I want to be more for good reasons. But after that experience in class, I realized that for me personally, I need to focus on being less.

As I strive to be more, I am only thinking of me. I’m thinking of how to make myself better and constantly focusing on improving. However, if I can focus on being less, the emphasis will not be on me. In becoming less, I can focus on helping others become more. I’ll be able to really put God first because it won’t be about me.

I’m not saying that this is something everyone should do, but for me personally, I need to become less before I can truly be more.

A Change of Heart

It seems strange when you find yourself comforting and sympathizing with and just plain loving someone that at one point you felt you hated.

I am not naturally a very forgiving person. I believe in justice far more than I should and I’m a sceptic of the benefits of mercy.

But I am trying to change. I am trying to be better and forgive more and let go of past pain. I am trying to see things from other people’s perspectives and assume that everyone is doing their best.

Sometimes I feel like I’m getting better and sometimes I don’t. But this weekend I was able to see a great change in me that I never thought would happen.

I hugged and comforted someone who basically tortured me when I was a child. They weren’t always mean to me, but I still have memories that haunt me of times I spent with them. And yet, as I held them and spoke kind words, I felt none of the anger I used to feel towards them. I just felt love.

If that’s not a change of heart, I don’t know what is.

Christ is real. The atonement is real. And it can really change us completely. I’m not who I used to be, but I’m on my way to becoming who I want to be. I know it wouldn’t be possible alone, but with God all things are possible.