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Using the Atonement in my every day life

posted Mar 21, 2014, 5:40 PM by Christine Merrill
So often in my life, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a distant event. Something he performed a long time ago, and that will apply in my life in the distant future, when I stand before God to be judged. But every once in a while, I do something that makes it a very here-and-now reality. Namely, when I make giant mistakes that really hurt other people.

I remember the first time this happened to me. I had engaged in some light speech that ended up coming back to bite me much worse than I'd ever imagined. Worse yet, it really hurt some friends of mine, and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember praying so fervently that God would let me have the fair results of my mistake, but please take away the hurt that I did to my friends!

Last week, I did it again. I was giving my friend Tracie a ride to a choir practice. Tracie has MS and uses a walker. She can't drive, so we were glad to swing by and grab her. The practice was about an hour away, and when we arrived, I realized that I'd left her purse on top of my car at her house. Did I mention that she lives in Anacostia? Marriner nobly drove back to see if we could find it, but it was gone. It had everything in it. All her ID's, her money, her scriptures, her phone...I. Felt. Terrible. More than terrible. She'd just barely gotten her phone and her debit card replaced from her last life adventure. Getting around isn't easy for her, and now I had just handed her the opportunity to visit every bureaucracy she could ever dream of!

The thing that is so tough for me about these situations is that the mistake was mine, but the consequence wasn't. Sure, I could drive Tracie around to get everything replaced, and I could pay for it, but I can't stand in line at the DMV for her. And I can't get her debit card here immediately so she can buy her groceries and pay her bills. This is real life: our mistakes hurt more than just ourselves. And that's so not fair!

Enter the Atonement. The part of God's plan where someone else takes upon himself our pain and our afflictions. I can't take away the suffering Tracie has to go through because of my incompetence, but there is One who can and does. Interestingly, it's not up to me to decide if he will or not, that's between him and Tracie. Tracie has to turn to him and ask for his help. I don't know what sort of help he has in mind for her - maybe it's comfort, maybe it's stamina, maybe it's the ability to forgive and forget, maybe it's increased strength because of overcoming a trial, but whatever she needs, he'll provide, and I can stop worrying that I've ruined someone else's life by my mistake. I can repent and turn the rest over to the Lord.

It's a really liberating and hopeful feeling. Not only can we be forgiven by God because of his Son, but we can be forgiven by our sweet brothers and sisters who are on the short end of our imperfections. Not just because they're being nice, but because they can be truly healed. Yet another great result of having a Savior and Mediator. I just want to tell him thank you.