It’s hard to believe that Adrianne would be turning 35 years old today. For her birthday, I decided to share a talk she gave in church less than a year before passed away. Her words inspire me as much today as they did when I heard her share them all those years ago, perhaps more. I hope you will find inspiration in them as well.
“A few months ago, I started rock climbing. I am still learning many techniques and holds, and I still have much to learn. One of the first things I learned is perhaps the thing that I remember most: I will fall. Sometimes a hold is greasy because so many others climb the same route, and I have not sufficiently chalked up my hands. Sometimes I reach for one hold without having a steady grip on another. And other times, perhaps the most frustrating times, I am just not strong enough.
“When I’m climbing and I take a fall, I know I’m not going to get hurt, because my belayer is there to constantly catch me. But, the moment my fingers slip off the lip of a rock or my toe slides out of place and I fall, my heart sinks. Because I failed to secure my next hold, I have to reclimb a portion of the route. Sometimes, I take a fall in the same spot three or four times before I get it right. Many times, it feels superfluous and wasteful to have to retrace the sections that I climbed well before I fell. But, the moments in which I climb back up to my highest point are those that best prepare me for the remainder of the route. As I climb what I did well, I improve the fluidity of my footwork, and I chalk up my hands to prepare for a hand hold that I had no idea was greasy until I grasped it.
“My belayer, whose view is completely different from mine, can offer me beta, or advice, on what he can see. Often, he has already climbed that route, and he knows what to expect. He knows my skill level, my strengths, my weaknesses. He knows how to best guide me.
“The beauty of having a belayer is knowing that you are safe while you climb. When you fall, he can feel the rope slide and can quickly catch you. You share a rope with the belayer, and so you are attached to him; he cannot just up and walk away while you climb.
“Our Savior is our belayer and our guide. He has experienced everything that we could possibly experience. He has taken our falls for us, He knows how to guide us, and He will never walk away from us. When we fall, He, more than any other, knows how to assist us in regaining our path, and our eternal salvation relies on His assistance, which He offers through the Atonement.
“The word atonement means to reconcile. When we sin, we separate ourselves from our Heavenly Father. We lose control, we become weak, and we fall. As a result, we are imperfect and are no longer worthy to be in our Heavenly Father’s presence. Our Father knew that we would be imperfect, and so He sent His Son to reconcile our sins.
Alma, Chapter 7, verses 11 through 13 teach us:
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.1
“Part of the purpose of Christ’s Atonement was to teach Him how to succor us in times of trial, suffering, and sin. The word succor comes from the Latin word succurrere, which means ‘to run to the aid of’. Our Savior’s perfect, infinite Atonement provides the necessary reconciliation that allows every single one of us to correct our mistakes and overcome our sins, and it allowed our older brother to understand what we are suffering so that He would be able to RUN TO OUR AID.
“Because Jesus Christ is perfect, His guidance will never fail us or lead us astray. Unfortunately, sometimes we deny Him the chance to help us because we are too lazy, too proud, or too discouraged. Each of these feelings is detrimental; yet, no matter how intense, each can be eliminated with prayer.
“First, we are too lazy. Some sins are comfortable. We may find it easy to neglect the spiritual necessity of daily prayer and scripture reading. Worse, we may blame it on being busy. No worldly responsibility, no matter how crucial to our physical well-being, can compensate for spiritual deterioration and neglect. The only cure for laziness is activity. Engage in prayer, and do so frequently. Praying invigorates our spiritual connection with our Heavenly Father, and we become stronger.
“Second, we are too proud. Some sins, like lying, give the illusion of power. A person who habitually lies is generally too ignorant to notice the shaky throne upon which they sit. They may not feel like admitting their lies because it would make them seem weak. No lie is more powerful than honesty. If we are feeling too proud to change even the smallest of sins, we must, once more, pray. When we kneel in prayer, we physically and spiritually humble ourselves to connect with our Heavenly Father, and we open ourselves to His will.
“Third, we are too discouraged. Sins, especially serious ones, are loaded with frustration and despair. Some are completely addicting, trapping us in a spiritual black hole in which we let no light and happiness in or out. We become miserable, murmuring, even malicious. Worst of all, we begin to believe that we are too far gone. President Boyd K. Packer said: ‘There is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ.’2 Sincere prayer invites alleviation, healing, and comfort from our adversaries. When we pray, we allow ourselves the blessing of receiving the healing and comfort that our Heavenly Father waits to offer us if we sincerely strive to reconcile our sins and become whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“None of these negative feelings come from our Heavenly Father, and none are worth sacrificing the healing and strengthening powers of the Atonement.
“I submit to you this suggestion: when you are struggling with ANY adversary of any magnitude, kneel down and pray without ceasing to our Heavenly Father. Pray for the strength to overcome whatever you are suffering. Do not expect that your burdens will be instantly lifted. The Atonement is not a spiritual ‘get out of jail free’ card. We cannot expect our Heavenly Father to let us bypass our trials, nor should we want Him to. Were we to float through life without spiritual opposition, our testimonies would shrivel, wilt, and diminish.
“Striving for cleanliness through the Atonement is not a one-time process. It is as constant as breathing – we must do it at all times in order to lead a strong, healthy spiritual life.
“I know the power of the Atonement is real and true. I have felt the palpable peace and comfort that come after I have worked to cleanse myself of sin. I know our Heavenly Father loved us SO much that He provided a path for us to continually cleanse ourselves of our sins, shortcomings, and temptations, so that we may have the opportunity to be with Him again, if we so choose.”
Adrianne’s testimony is a priceless gift to me! I love her so much and feel very blessed to be her mother! Together with hers, I share my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him! Words are not adequate to express my gratitude for the precious gift of His Atonement. Because of Him, I know I will be with my daughter again. That knowledge brings me so much peace. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Because of Jesus Christ, we will rise from the despair of death and embrace those we love, shedding tears of overwhelming joy and overflowing gratitude.”3 I look forward to that day with sweet anticipation!
1. Alma 7:11-13
2. The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness – Boyd K. Packer
3. Behold the Man! – Dieter F. Uchtdorf