For the past few days, I have been in Utah at BYU Women’s Conference. What an uplifting event! I got to spend time with my dear friend, talk with myÂ beautiful sister in-laws, seeÂ an old friend whom I haven’t seen since leaving BYU in 2001, eat mint brownies and chocolate cinnamon bears, have dinner with my family that I haven’t seen in too long, and spend time in the gorgeous Utah sunshine, while enjoying the tulips and spring flowers that I miss like nobody’s business (they don’t grow here in the desert).Â I got to have a little break from the crazy running around that I do on a daily basis, and leave those responsibilities to Greg for a couple of days. (It was his idea for me to goâ€¦what a gem!) But, perhaps most importantly, I was able to enjoy a spiritual feast as I listened to speaker after speaker relateÂ uplifting messages. I came home with a determination to be better.
The theme of the conference is in the picture above: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Psalms 84:11
This scripture is all about grace – about accessing the power of the atonement in our lives. Although I cannot address all that I learned in one post, I do want to share one thing that tied everything together and summed up the meaning of this scripture for me. Traditionally, at this Women’s Conference, there is a musical concert featuring several different artists that always takes place on the opening night. I have only attended a couple of these, but they are usually funny, lighthearted, andÂ uplifting. This time around, that is how the concert started, but then the tone changed. They started showing video clips of strong women who had overcome great obstacles in their lives – obstacles that had taught them about God’s grace and the individualized power of the atonement. The following video was one of those that was shown. Please take a moment and watch it, as it is vital to what I am about to say.
After it was over, Alyssa Parker, Emilie’s mom, came out onto the stage. She was greeted by a standing ovation from the 15,000 women who were in attendance. After she gained her composure, she spent the next several minutes telling us about her experience. She told us about the call that forever changed her life – the call that sent her to the firehouse, where she spent the next six hours waiting to hear what had happened, and if her daughter would be coming home with them that day. She told us about her fears being confirmed, andÂ the confusion that set in when she and her husband waded through the photographersÂ to get to their car. When they got there, they prayed together, and immediately felt like everything that they needed to get through this tragedy would be provided. People came out of the woodwork to help with their physical needs, but she did not understand how herÂ greatest need would be metÂ – the healing of her broken heart. As she came to the Lord in prayer,Â putting everything that she had in God’s hands, her heart began to heal. The emptiness and grief that was all-consuming began to turn into peace, hope, and gratitude. She was filled with gratitude for the time that she did have to spend with this sweet little girl, and for all of the things that she learned from her. She was grateful for her knowledge of a bigger plan – a plan that included life beyond mortality and her family beingÂ together again after death. She was grateful for the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that had carried her through darkness and despair into the brightnessÂ of hope.
As I sat there listening to her story, I realized that this remarkable story was made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ. That single act of love, performed by the only perfect person to ever walk the earth, not only covered our sins and weaknesses,Â making it possible for us to repent, but also covered all of the pain in our lives.
In Alma 7:11-12 it says:
Â “And he shall go forth, suffering pains andÂ afflictionsÂ andÂ temptationsÂ of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he willÂ take uponÂ him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.Â And he will take upon himÂ death, that he mayÂ looseÂ 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 toÂ succorÂ his people according to their infirmities.”
Because Christ has already felt our pain, he knows exactly how we feel in our darkest hours. He knows how to help us through every kind of pain, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. If He was able to turn tragedy into peace, hope, and gratitude for Alyssa Parker, I know that He can do the same thing for me, and for you, if we will come unto Him. He will not force His way into our lives.Â We must decide to let Him in. In doing so, He will help us to shoulderÂ our heavy burdens. He will give us strength to overcome even our darkest hours. He will be there to carry us when we are too weak to go on, while strengthening us until we are strong enough to walk on our own. He may not remove the mountains, for there is much to be learned by climbing them. But, He will help us to climb when the road is steep and the fall treacherous. He has the power to mendÂ broken hearts, heal unseen wounds, and strengthen feeble knees,Â butÂ we need to trust Him. We mustÂ trust that He knows how we feel and how to help usÂ because He has FELTÂ the same painÂ himself – trust that He KNOWS and LOVES each one of us – trust that He will send aid – trust that His atonement is a living, breathing thing, and we can access its healing power by following HIM.
This is the message that wasÂ written inÂ my heart after spending a few days at Women’s Conference. While the concert was not lighthearted and funny, like I was expecting, I walked away with a stronger understanding and appreciation for the atonement. I was able toÂ catch a glimpse of its healing power in a real way, thanks to the courage of Alyssa Parker.Â That message will remain with me long after the details of the past few days fade away. For that I am grateful.