Growing up, Easter was a day to wake up, grab your basket and search the house for candy! My parents always tried to teach us about the significance of this day (we didn't always pay attention); how its the day we remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and was crucified, but above all He rose again on the third day. We learned that the Atonement is such an amazing gift. It's amazing that He would die for all of my sins, he would suffer for all of my pain, paid I bring on myself through sin, but also pain and heartache caused from things outside of our control. He suffered and felt all of that so we could come to Him, the one person who knows EXACTLY what we're feeling, and be made whole.
I didn't grasp the importance of all of that until relatively recently, meaning the last 5 years or so. I knew and thought I appreciated the importance of the Atonement, but it hasn't been until I've had some big, life-changing experiences that I've really come to understand and fully grasp (and I know I'm only now skimming the surface of what this REALLY means) this wonderful gift. And especially over the last year as I've made mistakes and as things have happened in my life that have caused me pain, I've truly learned to turn to the Lord.
I'm so grateful I can repent and be clean, but that through the Atonement I can also be made whole and receive peace and comfort. I am grateful to know that as I truly and sincerely repent of my sins, the Lord really means it when He says He will remember them no more. I learned an important lesson on this matter several weeks ago.
Back in November I was working on a CRAZY project for work. I had 8 hours out of a 24 hour period to complete a task that, to that point, I had worked for 12 hours on and had only completed 30% of it. It was NOT looking good! One of the managers I work with seems to think I also work for him...NOT...and was demanding my assistance on a project and I sort of snapped with him. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't pretty. I knew I was in the wrong and I went back and apologized to him, and that was the end of it...or so I thought. When I went through my year end review, my manager went through the paperwork (and I kind of rocked it, just saying) and then, almost as an afterthought, he thought to tell me that I need to work on my reactions. He cited this one-time incident 6 MONTHS ago. To tell you I was upset is an understatement. I was so frustrated. I had dealt with this personally and had resolved my differences with this manager and everything was fine. As far as he and I were concerned the matter had been put to rest. But here it came to haunt me again.
It was in the moments following that conversation that I realized just how grateful I truly am for the atonement and for the promises the Lord has made to us. If we repent, truly repent, and we mend our ways and really do our best (not the best we tell ourselves we're doing as a cop out, but our VERY best), we'll be okay. Elder Holland said in a talk entitled "For Times of Trouble":
"You can change
anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. That’s another
satanic suckerpunch—that it takes years and years and eons of
eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you
to say, “I’ll change”—and mean it. Of course there will be
problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend—indeed
you had better spend—the rest of your life proving your repentance
by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come
for you as instantaneously as for Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Even if
you have serious amends to make, it is not likely that you would qualify
for the term, “the vilest of sinners,” which is the phrase Mormon
uses in describing these young men. Yet as Alma recounts his own
experience in the thirty-sixth chapter of the book that bears his name,
repentance appears to have been as instantaneous as it was stunning.
Do not misunderstand. Repentance is not easy or painless or
convenient. It is a bitter cup from Hell. But only Satan, who dwells
there, would have you think that a necessary and required acknowledgment
more distasteful than permanent residence. Only he would say, “You can’t
change. You won’t change. It’s too long and too hard to change.
Give up. Give in. Don’t repent. You are just the way you are.” That, my
friends, is a lie born of desperation. Don’t fall for
I love the second sentence of that quote. Repentance always seemed like this months and years-long process. But that isn't the case. As he said the reparations may take that time, but as far as repenting and changing goes, it can happen very fast. We just have to act and make it happen.
Lastly, I love the fact that we celebrate that He LIVES! The most amazing thing is that on that Easter morning, the tomb was empty. Christ lives! He loves us!
So, on this Easter as you are pondering the unspeakable gift of the Atonement, as it has been called, perhaps today is a great day to make a change(s) and repent and take advantage of this miraculous gift and opportunity.