Tag Archives: healing

Understanding the Atonement

By Guest Blogger Matt Blakely

“Now the Atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord in his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah, we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement.” (The Purifying Power of Gethsemane)

As I have grown and matured, I have realized how true this statement is. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we define the Atonement as Christ’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his suffering and death on the cross, and his glorious resurrection on the third day. Jesus Christ’s atonement redeems all mankind from physical death. Every one of the billions of people who have lived on the earth will receive the gift of being resurrected and living for eternity, regardless of how well or poorly they have lived their lives. The Atonement also makes it possible for every member of the human family to be cleansed of our sins as we come unto him and repent. These are truly incredible blessings, and I am eternally grateful to the Lord for making them available to me and to all mankind.

However, I think that most of us, including those of us who have been Christian our entire lives, have still only scratched the surface on understanding how truly remarkable the Atonement is. I know that the words I share here will certainly be inadequate to fully describe it, but I will try to help us catch a glimpse of it anyway.

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.” (Alma 7:11–13)

Christ didn’t suffer for only our sins, though it seems harsh to use the word “only” when we realize how big that burden is on its own. He suffered for every pain, every sorrow, every weakness, every sickness, every infirmity that each of us will encounter individually. Why would he do that? “That he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people” (Alma 7:12). Succor means to run to the aid of. Christ is always there willing and wanting to run to our aid if we choose to turn our lives toward him. He wants to transform us into beings like him, and he has the power to do it if we choose to follow him.

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to become like them so that we can return to live with them and with our families throughout eternity. This is made possible through the Atonement, which can transform who we are into who we truly yearn to become. Just like every person who reads this, I have had sins that I’ve struggled to overcome for long periods of time. Through these struggles and my efforts to turn to Christ, I have seen how his love has changed me. I recently wrote this in a journal entry: “I have come to realize that being a righteous disciple of the Savior is not dependent upon whether I have sinned or what sins I have committed. Being a man of God depends on doing what is truly hard—knowing yourself well enough to realize what your weaknesses are, recognizing the sins that you commit, and then following God’s plan regarding how to apply the Atonement to be cleansed of those sins.”

The Atonement is meant to change us. It can be hard to make the decision to change. I testify that going through that process of change brings joy that is exquisite. When you feel that the Savior has transformed you and you don’t have any desire to commit a sin that you used to commit, you realize that the process of repentance is completely worth all of the devoted effort you put into it. I know that Jesus Christ knows and loves you more deeply than you currently comprehend. The worth of every soul is great in the sight of God. The Touch of the Master’s Hand, one of my favorite poems, illustrates this beautifully. May each of us turn to the Savior and understand his atonement more fully as we feel his love transform us.

Why I’m Mormon

By Guest Blogger Denia-Marie Ollerton

I grew up in a religious LDS household. My parents were and are hardworking, God-fearing, sacrificing people. But it wasn’t easy. We had our difficulties and challenges, and at the time I felt we had more problems than my seemingly-perfect Mormon neighbors.

Church was just a thing we did every week. My friends were there, but I didn’t feel much else pulling me besides them. I remember thinking that religion as taught in my church was for perfect people only. They’d talk about the virtues of being good, and of happy families. I didn’t feel that fit my experience. I thought that God was cold, mean, and punitive.

In my teens, I got into some trouble with school, friends, and had some close calls with the law. I wasn’t happy, but I was trying desperately hard to become so. I still felt that religion was too strict and family relationships too sterile. Around eighteen years old my parents loosened their grip, and I began to experience the reality of being all on my own. I had long since lost any close friends I had in high school. My interactions with my family were minimal, and my life consisted mostly of going to school, trying to stay out of everyone’s way, and going home to sit in my room. Yes, it was very lonely. I knew that the life I had lived and the choices I had made up to that point were not making me happy.

I noticed my siblings were good enough people, and they seemed happy. They were active churchgoers, and always talked about how great the church was. I decided that I’d try religion one time, and one time only. If it was true, if it did work to live by certain rules, then great. If not, I’d know and I could move on with life. At this time, a lot of teachings from my childhood started to come into mind. One principle that came to mind was repentance. Repentance as I understood it was supposed to be this thing where you told God (or your bishop) about all the bad things you’d done, and somehow that was supposed to make you feel better. Oh yeah, and you weren’t supposed to do it again.

I also remembered the teachings about Jesus. I didn’t have much of an opinion on him. I had heard about the crucifixion and the atonement, but those were just words to me. And yet, he did seem like the only forgiving person in the entire story of religion. I remember thinking, “Alright, if he really is merciful and kind, I’ll test it out. I’ll see if he can handle me and all I’ve done.”

I went to my bishop after thinking this over for some time. I expected some harsh words and punishment, but I was willing to go through the process to get to the other side whatever that was. I went in and just let everything out to him. I was surprised but grateful at how calmly and kindly he handled the situation. He just listened for a while, and then asked if we could meet again after church. I agreed. I went to sacrament meeting, and the speakers all spoke about repentance and the atonement. I cried. I felt like a spotlight had been shone on me, and God was finally noticing me. I went back and talked more with my bishop. All of his words were encouraging, hopeful, and healing.

I walked home that day and went to ponder all that had gone on. It was as if a heavy load had been lifted off my shoulders, and I didn’t even know I was carrying it until it was gone. I felt incredibly happy. I think it was joy. I can honestly say I hadn’t felt joyful or happy up until that point in my life. I had seen people cry “tears of joy” before, but I didn’t want to cry, I just wanted to smile. I went through the rest of that week with a huge grin on my face. I knew then that God lived, and that there was so much more to life than I had known. Who knew that because Jesus Christ died thousands of years ago, and went through the atonement, that I could find healing and happiness in life? I didn’t before, but I knew it then. And there was no way I was going back to the life I had lived before.

I became fascinated with religion. I realized that I had been surrounded all along by a wonderful road map to a successful and happy life! I felt that I was doing years of make up work, but also felt that I was given an increased ability to soak it all in. Everything was positive that I found out. My previous notion of a punitive God was erased in large, sweeping motions. I found out he really did care about me. He did answer my prayers, he listened to me, he talked to me, and he helped me connect with others in ways I never knew were possible.

By relying on the teachings of the gospel, I’ve overcome fear, judgment (mostly of myself), and discouragement and have instead found opportunity, growth, excitement, and love. I thought my past would weigh me down, but it has buoyed me up. It has taught me that if God can right the wrong in life, he can make the good even better. I can come to the Lord, imperfect and all, and ask him to change me. And he does!

I love living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not because it’s what I’m used to, or what I’ve known all my life, but because it makes me truly happy. And although I haven’t had a perfect life, I don’t hold myself to that perfect standard anymore, and I know God doesn’t either. He and I both know that I am powerful, and I have so much potential. And I’ll continue to draw on that potential, with his support, for the rest of my life.

Finding the Upside

The past couple of weeks have been very difficult ones for me. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve fallen into a little (or a lot) of self pity. I don’t think I’ve mentioned on here yet but I am pregnant with a little girl due in Dec. (which by the way is not the reason for the self- pity). My husband and I are very excited. This pregnancy has been significantly easier than my first, but that says more about the difficulty of my first pregnancy rather than the ease of this one. I’ve still been quite sick but have been able to manage pretty well. However, I’ve found that when I travel (which has been a lot lately) it is really hard on me and takes days to recover. During this last trip home from Utah I caught a really bad cough that I have now had for 2 weeks and am just barely starting to get over it. Because of the pregnancy, I can’t take anything for the cough or the junk in my lungs so I pretty much just get to enjoy the misery in its natural goodness (can you sense my self-pity yet?). This sickness has also brought nausea and vomiting which adds a whole extra layer of fun to the mix.

I would not classify myself as a silent sufferer. I’m normally quite vocal about these types of things. A few days ago while I was, we’ll say, not suffering in silence I saw a video on my Facebook news feed that seriously humbled me and helped change my attitude. The website Mormon.org has a Facebook page that every few days shares short inspirational quotes and videos. I recommend that you check it out, it’s how I saw this video.

What I love about this video is its simplicity. It is uplifting and positive in a very natural way. They are just happy people. Pierre Muller found the upside to his situation, and – the humor in it –  which is even harder. He mentioned that it is because of his beliefs that he’s been able to find the upside. We believe that God created man with the intention of being happy and finding the joy in life. This can be a real challenge sometimes but through keeping the focus on the things that really matter–faith, family, and other things that bring joy, I believe it’s possible.

So I decided to find an upside to my situation. My upside is that I don’t normally watch a lot of TV but the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed a lot of cooking shows. Cooking is a big hobby of mine. Through having more down time to watch cooking shows I learned a lot of new cooking techniques and found a lot of new recipes that I am really excited to try. Had I not been sick I wouldn’t have learned those things. So what is your upside? If your week/day/year/current situation  has been less than ideal, what upside have you found to help you stay positive?

Priesthood Blessings of Healing

I just got back from a couple of weeks in Utah.  My younger and only sister got married. This trip turned out to be more eventful than planned. A week before my sister’s wedding my dad had to unexpectedly have back surgery. Right before surgery my dad received a priesthood blessing of healing.

Healing priesthood blessings are quite common among Mormons. I have received healing priesthood blessings before and after the birth of my son and at other times when I’ve been very sick. Was I miraculously healed every time I’ve had a healing priesthood blessing? Was my dad miraculously healed after receiving a priesthood blessing? In short, not every blessing has the same results. Some have miraculous healing experiences and some don’t.

Having access to the priesthood is not like have access a magic wand. The priesthood allows worthy members of the Church to do the work of God through His power. If it is God’s will that someone is miraculously healed, they will be. My uncle had a brain tumor when he was 13. It was a type of tumor where the prognosis was not good. He received experimental medical treatments as well as a priesthood blessing. In the blessing he was promised that he would heal and serve a full time mission for the LDS Church and have a family. He was miraculously healed and everything he was promised in his blessing eventually happened.

My dad was not necessarily miraculously healed. After receiving the blessing he still needed surgery and there will most likely be lasting effects from his problem. However, he was blessed with the strength necessary to face his challenges. He was able to enjoy my sister’s wedding day and dance with her at the reception even though 6 days before he had had serious back surgery.

Sometimes a healing priesthood blessing takes the health challenge away and sometimes we are able to have borrowed strength from our Savior to endure, either way, I think it is pretty miraculous.