I'm remembering a conversation I had with a friend of mine last year.
She shared with me the joy of her new marriage and how the Lord had brought her and her husband together. After a painfully difficult, but necessary, divorce, she had thought she would not be able to open her heart again. But the Lord gave her a wonderful man who waited patiently until she was ready to let Him help her love once more.
My friend also shared with me a tender story of reconciliation. As is perhaps not surprising, part of the disaster that ended her marriage was infidelity. To make matters worse, one of the mistresses was a good friend. She spoke of the anger, the pain, even the dread of seeing this woman. But one day, the Spirit whispered to her that her I ?m-going-shopping-on-a-whim outing that day would bring her face-to-face with this woman. She even felt the Spirit directing her where to stand in the store so they could cross paths. [Sidenote: If you knew you would come face-to-face with an enemy, ? would you follow the Spirit? I was touched that she did.]
Sure enough, the dreaded ? moment came. For an instant, she was tempted to let the woman pass without acknowledgement. But then the Spirit washed over her, and she felt an overwhelming feeling of love the Lord ?s love for her estranged friend. My friend called out; the two women embraced, wept, apologized, and left feeling a healing.
This story brought tears to my eyes and caused me to reflect on the power of the Atonement – not only to reconcile us to God, but to each other as well. As we listen to and heed the promptings of the Spirit, just as my friend did, He will give us power and ability beyond our own to find peace and reconciliation in our relationships.
We are nearing a time when we will again be taught by prophets and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, and other divinely-called leaders. What is the purpose of all the counsel we receive? It is to point our souls to Christ and to seek to be more like Him. It is to open our lives to Him and to the healing power of the Atonement that can come through the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Who doesn ?t need that healing power? We all experience the pain of imperfect and often scarred relationships. People say and do things that break our hearts, disrupt our lives, and test our limits. In spite of that, the Lord commands us to be one ? at one, if you will. He knows, however, that it is only through his Atonement that this is fully possible.
President Faust taught about how we can open ourselves up to the blessings of the Atonement:
The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through His Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite, or revenge. For all of us who forgive those who trespass against us, ? even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort.
Let us remember that we need to forgive to be forgiven. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, Oh, forgive as thou wouldst be e ?en forgiven now by me. ? With all my heart and soul, I believe in the healing power that can come to us as we follow the counsel of the Savior to forgive all men. ?
President Faust quotes a wise bishop, acknowledging that sometimes what we are able to do is ?Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in. ? ? The key is to have an open, softened heart, willing to look to and seek to follow the Lord.
Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity ?.
The Holy Ghost is a sanctifier. We can have it as our companion because the Lord restored the Melchizedek Priesthood through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The keys of that priesthood are on the earth today. By its power we can make covenants which allow us to have the Holy Ghost constantly.
Where people have that Spirit with them, we may expect harmony. The Spirit puts the testimony of truth in our hearts, which unifies those who share that testimony. The Spirit of God never generates contention (see 3 Ne. 11:29). It never generates the feelings of distinctions between people which lead to strife (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 13th ed. , 131). It leads to personal peace and a feeling of union with others. It unifies souls. A unified family, a unified Church, and a world at peace depend on unified souls. [The whole talk is worth quoting. I encourage you to read it in its entirety.]
During this Easter season, as we reflect on the wonder of the Atonement and the resurrection, I pray we may all strive for new life ? in our hearts and in our relationships, by doing all we can do to invite the healing gift of reconciliation into our lives.
I am reminded of a wonderful quote by President Hunter that was shared years ago as Christmastime, but I think it ?s appropriate at this special time of year as well (and something to seek to do all year long):
This [Easter], mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.
[Easter] is a celebration, and there is no celebration that compares with the realization of its true meaning with the sudden stirring of the heart that has extended itself unselfishly in the things that matter most.
I am grateful to reflect on counsel like the above. How easy it is to fall into natural patterns of reacting to people and situations, rather than choose the peace and power available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ! On this Easter day, may we all recommit to truly “remember Him” and all He has done. May we all do a little more to heed the counsel we receive from the Lord (through scriptures, prophets, and the Spirit) so that we may invite the power of the Lord ?s Atonement into our lives. His power and grace can enable us to enjoy (and offer!) the gift of reconciliation ? a gift that can knit our hearts together in unity and love and thus allow us to be His.