Usually during the Sacrament on Sundays, I like to reflect on the ways that I have been blessed by the Atonement that week. Lately though, I have been pondering on the ways in which the people around me have been blessed as well. As I started to do this, I realized that in many ways I would doubt that the Atonement was working for them, just as much as it was for me. For example, when you see someone trying to make positive changes in their life, it is easy to say “People never change. They can’t keep this up.” But when I look back on the positive growth I’ve made in the late few years, it is obvious that I have changed for the better. If I can change, why can’t they?
Through the grace of the Atonement we all have the opportunity to grow and become better. If Heavenly Father loves us all equally, why would some get to change and some be left behind to stay as they are? If a person in our lives is trying to sincerely change, we have to believe that they have access to the power that enables them to do so just as we do.
Here is a more difficult example: If you have been hurt badly by someone, do you believe that they can be forgiven and change for the better? Overcoming heartbreak and learning to forgive takes time and trust in the Lord. President Ucthdorf said: “The doctrine is clear. We all depend on the Savior; none of us can be saved without Him. Christ’s Atonement is infinite and eternal. Forgiveness for our sins comes with conditions. We must repent, and we must be willing to forgive others. Jesus taught: “Forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not … [stands] condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin” and “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” But when it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our anger as righteous and our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt.”
While at times it can seem easier to hold onto grudges and past ideas of a person, those thoughts don’t lead to happiness. Happiness comes through recognizing the miracles of the Atonement in our life and those around us. A new sense of gratitude for what the Savior did will come into your life as you stop limiting its power to only you. You will better realize what an incredible gift the Atonement is in a way you hadn’t before.
Forgiving others and allowing them to change might be one of the most difficult experiences we have in mortality, but isn’t it wonderful to know that it’s possible? We have the examples of Alma, Saul, and many others in the scriptures who became incredible disciples after repenting and changing. Those scriptural examples can help us in our modern day. In our own way, we will each have to go through the refiner’s fire to become who the Lord knows we are capable of becoming. Our faith in Jesus Christ gives us hope that all of this is possible, and I am grateful to know that that hope is available to all those who seek after it, not just me.