The Atonement & Women
Today I missed church. I hate not being able to go. I always have. But I was sick. And my two boys were as well. This afternoon, however, I took time to reflect on my Faith and how my relationship with my Father in Heaven and His Son has been going lately. I love them. I am so grateful to know who to turn to when I am down. Years ago as an EFY counselor I heard an amazing quote about Christ:
“We know that on some level Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything – absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means that Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer – how it was hard for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student-body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.
“There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands about pregnancy and giving birth. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion.
“His last recorded words to his disciples were, ‘And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ (Matthew 28:20.) What does that mean? It means he understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down’s syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children who ever come are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than that.” (Okazaki, Chicko N. Lighten Up [Deseret Book: 1993]: 174-75)
Sister Okazaki (who gives the quote) puts the atonement in such a way as to make us understand it’s not just about sin, but about all pain we can experience in this mortal life. It has touched me profoundly. To know that He understands me as a Woman, and that he can comprehend the pains that I suffer make his Atonement so much more meaningful to me. I love that I can turn my heartache and worry to Him. And boy, do I worry sometimes. But I can find peace through Him and I do, often.
After sending this to my sister she (or her husband) replied with these scriptures:
(Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 9:20 - 22)
20 O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.
21 And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.
22 And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.
This one shows why: That in order to be able to fully judge us righteously he had to suffer as we have suffered in every single aspect.
(Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 9:5)
5 Yea, I know that ye know that in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. I wanted to share this with you because I see a great need for Women, world-wide to feel like they are understood. We all have that innate desire to be better and accomplish our goals. But often we fall short of what we think we ought to be. That is when we, as women, most need to turn to Jesus and let him help us.