I would be so remiss in speaking about gifts if I did not speak about the atonement. It is certainly the most amazing gift I have ever been given. I have become so grateful for the Atonement and for it's ability to, not only clean me from my sins, but also to heal my heart.
I would have thought, much earlier in my youth, that cleaning me from my sins was impossible. I know that I thought that I could never be good, pure, clean and forgiven. No matter who we are, we have burdens and baggage that come from living, from making mistakes, from misunderstanding, from sin, from failure. We each have things in our lives that have happened to us that we feel we are responsible for and that we can never be forgiven of. Surely, I have told myself way too often that I am not good enough, smart enough, repentant enough, or perfect enough. No matter how hard I try, I now know that I will never be enough - by myself. It is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that I can have hope and joy and peace and forgiveness.
The older I become, the more I realize that I need to depend on Him. And the more grateful I am for the gift He has given each of us. There are many who are discouraged with the trials of their lives. There are many whose hearts are aching, who are crying out for strength, healing, love, and compassion. There are many who struggle under the burdens of depression and despair. Sometimes, I find myself in exactly that place.
To each of us our Savior gives this loving invitation:
“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” (Matthew 11:28-30)
May we each remember the healing power of the Atonement. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to suffer, bleed, and die for us. When I hold my own child and think of that kind of love, I am completely overwhelmed with the utter magnitude of His blessings.
He knows our heartaches. He knows our anguish. He is there for each one of us, and like the good Samaritan in His parable, when He finds us wounded and beaten by the wayside; when others have walked on by and ignored our pain, He binds up our wounds and cares for us. The healing power of the Atonement is there for each one of us.
"If any has stumbled in his journey, there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift. Though the path is difficult, the promise is real: 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow' (Isaiah 1:18)." Thomas S. Monson, "Preparation Brings Blessings," Ensign, May 2010, 66
“Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, ‘I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].’ ” Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were with Him,” Ensign, May 2009, 88
Each of us will taste the bitter ashes of life, from sin and neglect to sorrow and disappointment. But the atonement of Christ can lift us up in beauty from our ashes on the wings of a sure promise of immortality and eternal life. He will thus lift us up, not only at the end of life, but in each day of our lives.
“Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God … giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. … They that wait upon the Lord shall … mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isa. 40:28–31.) Bruce C. Hafen, "Beauty For Ashes", Ensign, April 1990, 7.