When President Hinckley passed away, I decided to accept a challenge that I was offered: to read the Book of Mormon in 97 days. I remember thinking during the first week that this would be a piece of cake. I remember thinking one particular night, "Why wouldn't I just read 5 pages a day? What could keep me from doing this?" Well, I can't even begin to recite how many things can keep me from reading 5 pages a day. Needless to say, there are many!
What I need to say is how blessed I am when I read. Just yesterday morning, I got up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. So about 5:30 I decided to read in the Book of Mormon. I read for almost an hour, but I think I might have read just one chapter. I was in Mosiah 4 (a treasure trove of Christian teaching from King Benjamin), so that explains why I could read so little for so long. I've tried to internalize what I read as I go along and that takes time, which I am grateful to spend.
As I read about the people who saw their flaws and were sad about them, I could totally relate. I often have mini-pity parties about the flaws which are so present in my character. But I saw what the Nephites did and noticed a difference from what I usually do. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, they cried to the Lord for help. They cried for mercy. They didn't try to gloss over their nothingness, they accepted it and wanted help to move forward. What a great example of faith. It takes faith to move from "I'm such a mess" to "I can do better". We need to believe that we can change. That is where the Savior comes in. He believes in me. He believes that I was worth dying for. If He had thought that we would not take advantage of His atonement, would He have done it? Wouldn't it just have been in vain? Why go through that much pain and sorrow for no reason? But He had a reason. Us. You and me. He knew we could find strength in His suffering. He knew this strength could help me change. He knew that I could do it. Even if I don't know I can, I can look to His faith in me and be comforted. So often I feel I cannot surmount the challenges I face. I have bad habits; I have no willpower; I delight in sin; I cannot forsake my sins. It is a hopeless place to be. But He hopes I will look to Him and take solace in His faith in me. That is the only way to success. Maybe failure isn't failure at all if I keep trying. The only lasting failure will be if I don't change and grow into the person I can become. The day-to-day failures can one day be overcome if I don't give up. This is what the atonement does for me--it gives me hope that Someone far greater than me and far wiser believes in me. Even when I don't or I can't, He does. And that makes a difference. A huge difference. The beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that He doesn't want me to stay a child--He wants me to become more--even a queen! There is nothing threatening to Him about my becoming like Him. Just as there should be nothing threatening about my children becoming more than I am. That is why we were created--to fulfill our eternal potential. He has given us the tools--scriptures, prophets, ordinances, temples, families, prayer. Now it is up to me to find the treasures in them that will change my life.