EasterI know it's not Easter any more, but I still can't let the day pass by without saying something.
If you're like me, meaning poor and in college, the holidays are very different. I've been lucky enough to be able to go home for Christmas and Thanksgiving while I've been at school, but Easter has been all mine to do on my own.
One year a few friends and I went out to the countryside and had a picnic and drove around, falling in love with Virginia's rolling hills. This year, I went to church, ate a chicken burrito and a piece of a giant Reese's Easter egg, took an impromptu nap, then video chatted my family.
Compared to Easters past it wasn't very festive, but we all know that it's not the candy and the Easter eggs that matter.
It was a Fast Sunday in my ward today because of General Conference next week and Stake Conference the week following, and I wanted to bear my testimony but didn't.
I wish I had. Take it from me, the girl who can count the number of times she has bore testimony in sacrament meeting on one hand: never give up an opportunity to share your testimony. It's for your benefit more than it is for anyone else's, because by bearing your testimony you solidify it, you discover that you really do have faith and by sharing that, you strengthen it.
But since I didn't bear my testimony in sacrament meeting, I'd like to share it here, if that's okay.
His Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee - Mormon Tabernacle ChoirChrist died, betrayed by his friends, scourged, mocked, and beaten; he died forsaken even by our Father in Heaven, utterly alone, for you. For me. For everyone.
He atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane not because he was not afraid, for he was, but because his obedience to The Father and his eternal love for us overpowered all else. He was willing to sacrifice his body, even endure the pain of being separated from our Heavenly Father in his time of greatest need on the cross, in order to qualify us for eternity.
I've spent nights doubting Him, doubting His existence, His church, even His atonement. I have left Him alone. I have ignored Him. I have denied Him. I, like his apostles, have betrayed Him, time and time again.
Because of his Atonement, because He has already paid the price for those sins and many more, because He has broken the bonds of death so that we might reach our true potential as Celestial beings, I do not have to face the punishments for my misdeeds. Because a perfect being loves me, a being that I have doubted and denied countless times, each Sunday I can partake of the sacrament and be healed, made pure again from His infinite sacrifice.
I feel so unworthy of His love, yet He loves me all the same, unwavering even when I turn away or don't want to see. He suffered unimaginable torments for me. He died for me. He died and was resurrected so that I am not forever tied to this imperfect, mortal body, although that is my just due.
He loves you more than you can understand. He suffered your sins in Gethsemane and overcame them. He died for you. He patiently waits when you ignore Him, deny Him, and doubt Him, then brings you back to His all-encompassing arms. I hope you realize that.
I hope you know that you are never alone, even when you have lost touch with the Spirit and become prey to Satan's tricks and temptations. Christ know that dark place where you are. He's been there. He is the only one that can show you the way out.
This, at the core of things, is why I want to serve a mission. Because Christ loves me, and is my friend when I feel like I have none, because of His resurrection, which we celebrate on Easter Sunday, I am eternal.
Because I am a member of His church, I know His plan for me. I know right from wrong, good from bad. I know that I am loved, even when I feel unlovable.
I have experienced my share of sorrow and pain, and I know that the only way to true joy is through Jesus Christ. I know what it's like to live without the Spirit in my life, to blind myself to what I have been taught to be true since my childhood, and I also know what it feels like to be washed in immeasurable, eternal love.
I want other people to feel that too. I want others to know that there is a way out. There's a way to be with your family forever. There is a way to repent of your sins and be cleansed. There is a way to conquer even death, the great equalizer of man. There is a Father in Heaven who loves you so much that He sent His Beloved Son, even Jesus Christ, who also loves you infinitely, to take on your afflictions and overcome them so that you can free yourself of them and taste eternal joy.
Is there a gladder, more wonderful message? Is there anything more worthy of my time and devotion?
He is risen! Shout it from the rooftops! He is risen, and so shall we all be.