I wanted to write real quickly about the two parts of "The Farewell".
The first is the actual talk or as it is supposed to be called: Your last time to address your ward. My farewell was a double one with an incredible woman named Sister Jones (Her blog is http://sisterjordannjones.blogspot.com/). She left for the MTC last Wednesday. We were both asked to speak on different aspects of the Plan of Salvation. Her centered on how it applied to missionary work and mine centered on the Atonement. This was another testimony to my that Heavenly Father knows us individually. Writing out this talked helped me to prepare for my mission, it helped to fortify myself against Satan and greatly strengthened my testimony. For those interested, this was my talk.
Hey y’all! Just a bit of an introduction, I’m Sister Thorne. I have been called to serve in the Great Louisville, Kentucky mission. I will be leaving on March 6th. I have wanted to serve ever since I was a little girl. I have strived to learn as much as I can to prepare for this event. Today, I’m going to speak on one of my favorite subjects and one I have studied a lot.
The Plan of Redemption is truly amazing. It tells us that if we make certain covenants, keep the commandments and endure to the end, we can become like our Heavenly Father and live with him. But as I was thinking about this plan, I realized that none of it would have ever been possible if it wasn’t for our Savior and His atonement. Without Him, man would have fallen and wouldn’t have had a mediator to compensate for their failings.
I was reading Jesus the Christ in which it tells us that no one else could have completed the atonement. Jesus was the one and only sinless man, the only begotten of the father and the one who had been foreordained for this service. These qualities, possessed by no other man, made it possible for him to become our Christ and Savior.
When studying the Atonement, I thought it best to discuss it in two acts. The first was committed quietly in the garden of gethsemane and the second was on the cross of Calvary. As I studied this more, I realized that Christ suffered for far more than just our sins. He completely understands us. So using a few scriptures, I divided his different areas of understanding into these two categories as well.
In the Garden, Christ suffered willingly so that we might have the cleansing opportunity of repentance through faith in Him. This gave us the tool to overcome spiritual death and attain eternal life. He suffered for our sins, temptation and pains.
A sin is simply a shortcoming. It’s a transgression against the law. It often happens when we give the devil power over us to influence us to choose the wrong instead of the right.
Christ himself was tempted. He did not need to be. He was half God. But he suffered himself to be tempted so that he could better understand us and succor us when we are tempted.
There are many types of pains: mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. At some point, we experience all of them. Some of the most acute pains that I have felt have been emotional. The times when I feel so much sorrow, it feels as if I could be torn apart. One of the hardest of these times was just after my Grandmother died. As anyone in my family can tell you, she was a lighthouse to us all. After she left us, it felt as if I no longer had a light pointing me through life’s deadly coral reefs. I felt lost. I remember one night, about a week after she died, collapsing in tears on my bed. I fell to my knees and prayed for peace. I prayed for comfort. I wanted to know that someone out there understood what I was feeling, that they had been there before and had made it through, so they knew that I could make it too. It was then I felt my Savior’s love so powerfully that my tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy. I knew that he was there for me. That he loved me and only wanted my happiness. You can feel no hurt, emotional or physical, that he has not already felt. There is no combination of human emotions, or physical illness, or suffering that cannot find refuge in the Savior’s sacrifice for us.
The second act was on the cross as he died and in turn was resurrected, for us. He allowed himself to be battered, abused, humiliated and executed so that we could receive immortality. He gave us this gift. To me, this was the more physical act of the atonement. Under this, I classified physical death, sicknesses and infirmities.
He suffered everything for us, literally everything. He understands our sins, temptations, pains, sicknesses and infirmities. He conquered even death for us. He died that all through him might live. As I was talking this over with a friend, we considered that everything in life has opposites. There is always that balance. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that if Christ understands all of the bad things we go through, that he also understands all of our joys?
Neal A. Maxwell said, “Jesus plumbed the depths and scaled the heights in order to comprehend all things. Jesus, therefore, is not only a fully atoning but He is also a fully comprehending Savior.” Not only that, but no matter how much we mess up, he will always come to rescue us. Isn’t that amazing? He never gets annoyed with us and our constant mistakes. His love never runs out. It is unconditional.
I was watching The Emperor’s New Groove and one scene really seemed to emphasize this idea. It’s when Pacha and Kuzco collapse a bridge and fall down a cliff. Now, if you haven’t seen this movie, you need to understand that Kuzco has been nothing but mean and inconsiderate to Pacha the entire movie but now they have to work together to get out of this pit. Pacha, ever the voice of reason, starts out, “Now, we’re gonna have to work together to get out of this, so follow my lead. When I say go, push against my back and we’ll walk up the hill.” As they start moving, Kuzco gets excited that they are actually moving up. “But don’t look down,” Pacha says, “Stay with me.” But soon enough they get to a point where they can’t move up anymore. They’re stuck. “Now what genius,” Kuzco asks. But Pacha is still calm. “I’m working on it. Here’s the deal. Stretch out your neck and I’ll grab the rope.” This worries the untrusting Kuzco. “How do I know you won’t let me fall after you grab the rope?” he demands. Pacha looks at him and utters some of the hardest advice anyone can give. “You’re just gonna have to trust me.”
I was thinking about this moment. Many times I feel like Kuzco. I have been inconsiderate and ungrateful to Christ for all he has done to me. But suddenly I find that I have dug myself into this grand pit and have no way to get out. I look to Christ and expect him to have a plan to help me get back to the top. But as we start moving, it comes to a point where I get stuck. I no longer let him help me. I turn to him expecting him to have some grand plan to explain why I am going through this. He looks back at me explaining that he has a plan, but I’m going to have to trust him. Isn’t that scary? You have to put your life into the Savior’s hands and trust him that he will get you to where you need to be and that eventually you will be happy. That’s why Proverbs 3 is my missionary scripture. It’s really my life goal: to someday trust him with all my heart and acknowledge that he will always direct me to the right path. But nevertheless, he always comes for me. He will always get us out of that dark pit, if we will but trust him.
I would like to close with a poem I wrote. I wrote this as I was struggling one night and turned to my Savior for understanding and comfort. I feel it’s a perfect example of trusting that he will always come for us and, as long as we have faith, heal us through the power of the atonement.
Moving forward each day
Each one harder than the last
One step then another
Each one helps the other
Throwing the day to the past
So hard to move on
All hope seems long gone
The darkness of night surrounds me
Holding me back
Pointing out what I lack
For this locked door, I have no key
So I turn my head up
This talk really helped me to reflect on the tender mercies of my Lord and Savior. His atonement is there for anyone to partake of. It is not just there to help us repent, it is also there to buoy us up in trials and comfort us during our sorrows. I know that to be true.
The second part of what I called "The Farewell" doesn't just take place at one time, like the time you are designated to talk. It's pretty much the last 2-3 weeks before you leave. It's as everything seems to really fall down on you and you start saying goodbye to your dearest friends. This is the true test. I promise you it has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. If you really think about it, it's not saying goodbye. I mean, you will see all of these people in just 18 short months, but it's still heart wrenching. I was thinking about that. Why is it so hard to let go of my friends for this short amount of time? I have been promised that they will be safe while I am gone and I have been promised that I am doing what the Lord needs me to do at this time. So why then is it so difficult to let go? I think the answer for me comes back to trusting in Him. I was told today at church that Fear can have no place in our life if we completely trust our Heavenly Father. By that reasoning, that's why I am fearing for my friends right now. I fear losing them, I fear that they will change, I fear leaving them, I fear that I wont' have that support when I come home. The only reason for this fear is that I still don't completely trust my Heavenly Father. I don't completely trust that whatever happens is meant to be and is part of His plan. It's still something I need to work on.
I just want to make sure all of you know that it is worth it. This heartache and sorrow and pain and stress is all worth it. A mission is one of the best decisions you can make for your life. It will help you become a better parent, child, sibling and friend. It makes you grow in ways you never though possible. Your spiritual well fills to the brim and flows over with pure spirit and joy. It is all worth it. That is what keeps me going. Don't ever lose faith! God is with you.
The church is true!