I wrote this essay in preparation for a moms' retreat I'm attending next month. I thought I'd share it here.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt 11:28-29)
1. Christ’s Atonement is more powerful than all our sins or stresses.
Christ’s Atonement is more powerful than all our stresses, burdens, sins, mistakes, weaknesses. We each have a personal, powerful Savior who is more powerful than all these things. He atoned for each of us individually, not just for the group as a whole. He has already suffered for our sins so it won’t hurt or burden Him any more for us to give Him our burdens. Instead, what must hurt Christ’s feelings is when people don’t take advantage of the suffering He already did for them.
This reminds me of our former young men leader’s object lesson where he had one strong 16-year-old do ten pushups for each young man to eat a doughnut. He ended up doing over 300 pushups, which was a lot! As the boys saw him grunting, sweating, and shaking with fatigue, they insisted that they didn’t want a doughnut so their friend wouldn’t have to suffer for them. But the leader told them that the young man has to do pushups for each boy, whether or not they choose to eat the doughnut. I can imagine what a powerful impact this simulation had on the boys.
This is a good analogy of Christ’s Atonement. He had to suffer for each of our sins, hurts, stresses, and heartaches, whether or not we choose eat our doughnut. We can choose to eat the doughnut and receive rest to our souls – feel Christ’s Atonement lift our loads and lighten our burdens from sins and stresses and heartaches. Or we can choose not to. But either way, He already suffered for each of us. So I want to take 100% full advantage of His Atonement. I do not want His suffering for me to be in vain!
This also fills me with desire to do missionary work, both in and out of the Church, because I want others to take full advantage of Christ’s Atonement, and not let His suffering for them be in vain either.
2. The grace of Christ’s Atonement empowers and enables us.
As Elder Bednar talks about, the grace of Christ’s Atonement empowers and enables us to be and do more, bigger, and better than we ever could on our own. We can serve more and better, and do things that are the most helpful and meaningful to the people we’re serving. We can teach in ways that really touch hearts and inspire conversion, rather than focusing on fluffy handouts at the expense of the meaty, Spirit-filled doctrine and application of it. We can succeed in various areas of life better than we could on our own when we have plugged into Christ’s grace, the enabling, empowering part of His Atonement. This obviously lifts our burdens because we can do more than we could on our own power as we’re plugged into Christ’s power. Me plus Christ equals infinite power.
3. Personal revelation gives us knowledge of what to do and the power to do it.
Personal revelation yokes us to Jesus’ power so we no longer carry the load on our own. Again, me plus Jesus equals infinite power! Elder Scott said several times in the first principle of his 21 Principles book that personal revelation gives us knowledge of what to do and, if needed, the power to do it. I LOVE this. When I receive personal revelation about something, that something indeed becomes lighter because I know it is God’s will, and I know He will help me accomplish it, and I feel empowered.
4. Giving our sins and hurts to Christ lightens and lifts us.
Repentance and forgiveness are beautiful blessings of Christ’s Atonement. When we give our sins or hurts over to Christ, we are changed from a heavy, low-frequency state to a lightened, high-frequency state. We are raised, lifted, lightened, and empowered. Carrying a sin is heavy, and the more serious the sin the heavier it must feel. Carrying unforgiveness in the soul is heavy too – anger, resentment, or jealousy. What a lifter of burdens the Atonement is! What a gift! Who wouldn’t want to eat the doughnut?
Every action that brings in the Spirit lightens and lifts us.
Being filled with the Spirit makes us feel lighter, stronger, more resilient and empowered. Coming unto Christ and being filled with the Spirit is like a giant power cord that plugs us into Christ and His power. This happens every time we invest time in an activity that brings in the Spirit, like power praying, scripture feasting, journaling, gratitude, inner stillness and pondering, holy music, service, following promptings, obedience to commandments, temple, bearing testimony, watching uplifting and wholesome media.
Any time we do things that push away the Spirit we feel heavy laden, burdened, and weighed down. In my opinion, you can never feel true joy and peace without God’s Spirit. At least not as deeply as you can with the Spirit. The Spirit brings deep joy and peace, lightens our load, and fills us with light. Again the Atonement is the ultimate lifter, because every person sins. Once we sin we push away the Spirit, and we can’t fully receive the Spirit back without the miraculous gift of repentance through Christ’s Atonement.
5. All healing ultimately comes from Christ’s Atonement, and healing lifts and lightens.
Once again Christ’s Atonement is the ultimate lifter and lightener, this time by being the source of all healing – physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, in relationships, and in other settings. Who couldn’t use some healing in some of these areas? We all need to be healed. When a person is chronically sick, or chronically drawn to dysfunctional relationships, or depressed, or what have you, he or she is heavy laden and burdened. Healing is needed.
When a person receives healing through obeying God’s natural laws of nutrition for the body, a priesthood blessing to give hope after a failed business, counseling with a Christ-like therapist after a bitter divorce, Christ’s power is available and ready to heal us. Sometimes healing is instant, but usually it’s not. Sometimes healing takes time, and sometimes a lot of time. Sometimes healing means the person is given peace even though the situation stays the same for now. But all healing ultimately comes from Christ, and healing always lightens the load. Ahhh…
6. Remembering and gratitude lift, lighten, and connect us to God’s power.
Last week I experienced a multi-family pioneer trek. It was wonderful. I walked in honor of our Grandma Mary Ann Mellor, from the Martin Handcart Company. She has a cool story. Mary Ann became sick before leaving England, gave birth to conjoined twins the day their ship was to leave, and she begged her husband, James, to leave because all their belongings were on the ship and they had purchased the tickets. James left two daughters with his wife, and miraculously bad weather kept the ship from leaving. James came ashore and she begged him to take her aboard. The doctor and ship captain said she would soon be shark food. But an apostle came aboard and gave her a priesthood blessing promising that she would make it safely to the Salt Lake Valley.
Mary Ann stayed sick the entire ship ride and entire handcart trek across the plains. At one point she sat down and wept, ready to give up. James had their teen daughter stay to comfort her mother and promised to come back later to bring her to camp. This sweet daughter walked a ways away and said a prayer that the wolves wouldn’t eat them and that she could help her mom make it safely to camp. On the daughter’s walk back to her mother, there was, much to her surprise, a pie sitting on the ground! This pie must have nourished not only their bodies, but their faith that God was indeed very aware of them and would watch over them.
Other times Mary Ann was tempted to give up. It’s understandable for someone who hadn’t felt healthy and well in such a long time. But instead of giving up, she would remember God’s pie miracle for her, and choosing gratitude gave her the power to move forward, even when she didn’t want to.
|My Grandma Mary Ann Mellor learned the empowerment of gratitude to God, how it helps lift loads and strengthen you when you don't want to go on.|
7. Christ’s Atonement transforms us into new creatures which are lighter and lighter.
I don’t understand the arithmetic of it, but Christ’s Atonement and the Holy Ghost somehow work together to sanctify, cleanse, and help us have a new birth, transforming us into new creatures. The natural man, who is an enemy to God and full of carnal desires, is heavy laden with appetites of the flesh – materialism, greed, envy, addiction, lust, and dishonesty. But the Spirit and Atonement build a cocoon for us, and help us transform from crawling prickly caterpillars of natural men to beautiful butterflies that can fly. I can’t think of a better visual for lifting burdens than this. The natural man is so heavy laden he can only slowly crawl and may not even know what he is missing. But the butterfly is light and free and happy, up in the skies savoring the dazzling views of flowers, trees, and soaking in the sunshine.
I am eternally grateful for Christ’s infinite Atonement that is so powerful that it heals, lifts, lightens, and transforms us into new creatures.
I choose to eat the doughnut.
Every last bite. I don’t want His suffering for me to be in vain. I want to take 100% full advantage of it every single day.