Ive been debating whether or not to write about this on my blog since it is very personal to me. Yet, Ive spent a lot of time thinking about it and if there is even a slight possibility that it could help someone else then it would be selfish of me not to share. So if you can learn from my mistakes then I beg you to do that.
Several years ago I was doing things in my life that I knew were not consistent with what I knew to be right. I had justified my actions and excused my behavior so that I became numb to the spirit telling me it was wrong. I cared more about what the world thought than what God thought. I sought approval from men rather than from my Heavenly Father. I distanced myself from Him so that I wouldn't have to feel disappointment and guilt. I don't think I realized who I was as a child of God. I didn't understand where my value came from. I sought attention from others that would reassure me that I was worth something, even if it was just to make them happy. I thought it was no big deal and I didn't see the harm in having a few moments of "fun." I thought that if I did certain things then they would like me more.
I had one day where I went and met with my bishop. I wasn't happy and I knew that I needed to make some changes in my life. After meeting with him, he told me to go home and write in my journal about what was going on in my head. He told me that there would be times when I would need to go back and reread it. So this week, I found that journal entry and I reread it. I want to share with you some of the things I had written down.
"I went and talked to the bishop tonight. It was my first time meeting him. He is a very nice man. I was trying to think of every reason why I shouldn't go and talk to him, but I knew I had to. The whole way over there I kept saying to myself 'have the courage.... have the courage...' I had been feeling sick to my stomach for the past month. I kept burying things and hoping they'd go away. Well I broke down at work yesterday and I just started sobbing. My boss let me off early and I went on a drive up the canyon. I prayed to Heavenly Father for a long time. I was crying so hard I couldn't breathe. I opened my scriptures and I read about how if you want to be forgiven you must confess and forsake. That's when I knew what I needed to do. I called Josh to set up an interview. Everything seemed to work out. My class got cancelled so I could have my interview tonight. Josh called asking if I could come in right away so I didn't have time to talk myself out of it. Heavenly Father was watching out for me! I went over for my interview. The Bishop had me start with a prayer. It took me a good minute to be able to speak because I had started crying. Afterwards, he told me he had me pray so he could kind of get to know me better. He told me he could tell I have a very strong relationship with my Heavenly Father and that he knows Heavenly Father loves me and is SOO proud of me! I told the bishop about where I was at. He was very blunt and direct and I am grateful for that. He told me I was standing in the middle lane of the freeway and I was hoping that I wouldn't get hit. He told me it was about time I got off the freeway and stopped learning everything the hard way. He kept telling me how proud he was of me and he knew it took a lot of courage to go in there. He said there is someone out there that is worthy to take me to the temple and I do not need to rush. He said if a guy calls/texts to hangout or come over then I should hang up right away because they are NOT being respectful. He said let the boys save up money and take me out and then make sure they bring me home at a decent hour. I feel ten million times better. I feel like a HUGE bag of bricks has been lifted off of me. I feel so light I could fly. All I wanna do is be better. It's incredible how the Atonement works. I know I am not there yet, but I am getting there. I'm in the right direction!"
It has been years since this encounter happened yet I can remember in vivid detail the night it took place. It was this experience that gave me the testimony I have today of the Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The moment I confessed my sins, my burdens were eased immensely. It was as if the Savior came down and literally picked them up from off my back. I recall the smile that became plastered to my face as I left his office. I recall the spirit warming my soul and the world became brighter with hope. I recall having more feeling and the numbness fading away. It was easier to keep my head up and face the world around me. I no longer felt like I had things I was trying to hide from others. The warmth and love from my Heavenly Father and His Son were very apparent in my life in the days and weeks and months that followed. I cannot fully express to you the joy and peace that came to me as I let go of the person I used to be. I gravitated to all things good. I loved how I was feeling and I wanted more of it. I no longer felt alone or forgotten. I wasn't going from day to day in the dark anymore. I had clarity and I had direction. I saw the night and day difference between sin and purity. It was almost tangible. It is forever burned into my memory!
The happiness that came into my life as I strived to live the Gospel is indescribable. The interview I had with my stake president before finalizing my mission papers was another night not to be forgotten. We went over any past mistakes I had made and when he got to the end he told me that it was as if none of those things ever happened. I would remember them so that I would never do them again, but the Lord would not remember them anymore. He said I was completely clean and pure and worthy to go and represent my Savior in the mission field. I sat back and tried to fully absorb what he was telling me. Tears trickled down my face as I tried to comprehend the blessing and gift of the Atonement. I cannot explain the love and gratitude I have for me Savior. He means EVERYTHING to me!
Then there were the moments in the mission when I got to bare my testimony of the Atonement. Without fail every single time I would cry. I would cry because as I told these people that they have a Savior that does indeed love them, my mind was taken back to my own personal experiences with my Savior. I love testifying of Him and all that He has done for us. I KNOW that He lives! I know it without a doubt! I know that without Him there is no way we could return to live with our Heavenly Father again. Christ came down and led a perfect life, he atoned for the sins, transgression, weaknesses, sufferings, afflictions, and pains of all mankind. He gave his life for each one of us because He loves us that much! He wants us to return to live with them again. The Atonement is real and through it comes hope and peace. There is nothing we can do that the Atonement of Jesus Christ cannot fix.
I promise that if there is anything in your life that needs to be changed so that you can feel closer to God and Jesus Christ, then it is worth giving up everything for! Nothing can ever compare to the joy and peace and love that comes as we follow and keep the commandments of God. Let me repeat that... There is NOTHING that can ever compare to the joy, peace, and love that comes from following and keeping the commandments of God. Do not believe the world when it says "sin is happiness" because I assure you that it is NOT! That is a lie!! So take it from someone who has stepped a few steps too far in the wrong direction, take it from someone who believed for a brief moment that sin would bring happiness, please believe me when I tell you that "tears will inevitably follow transgression." Fleeting happiness will lead to long drawn out pleadings with God begging for forgiveness. I know that as we follow Christ that we will have joy. We will have clarity and we will feel the love of God on a daily basis. As we draw closer to Christ we will find more purpose and direction in our lives. We will be inspired by the Spirit to know of the things that God would have us do. We will receive inspiration and guidance from Him. I promise you that that is true!!
There is a reason why Christ is called the light of the world. In the light you can see clearly. You can feel warmth and happiness. You feel hope. In the darkness you feel lost and confused. Turn to the Savior and you cannot go wrong. HE MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME!!! I owe Him my life and I want to constantly be in a place where I can testify of Him through my words and my example. I KNOW the Atonement is real! It has changed my life and it can change yours!