I realized that I had been so focused on working to take the gospel to other people that I had forgotten to let the gospel work in me.
Early in my mission to Tennessee, my companion shared with me part of Sister Linda K. Burton’s address from the October 2012 General Relief Society Meeting. In her talk titled “Is Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ Written in Our Hearts?” Sister Burton speaks about letting the Savior’s Atonement become deeply ingrained into our souls. She reads from Jeremiah 31:33–34:
“After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. . . .
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Those verses in Jeremiah really spoke to me. I immediately adopted them as favorites, and I memorized them and thought of them often. I also put Sister Burton’s talk on a CD so I would be able to listen to it occasionally as we drove.
But I didn’t think about that talk very much again until I was more than halfway through my mission. I was in a different area with a new companion, and things were not working out. My companion was great, and we were working really hard, but it was difficult to progress with any of our investigators. I was tired.
One day as we drove to a remote part of our area and were eating a quick dinner in our car, one of my CDs of conference talks played in the background. When Sister Burton’s talk came on, it was as if Heavenly Father were speaking directly to me almost a year after the talk was given and six months after my earlier companion had taught me about it in companionship study.
In her talk, Sister Burton asks an important question: “How can we expect to strengthen families or help others unless we first have written in our own hearts a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement?”
When I heard those words, along with the rest of her talk, I realized that I had been so focused on working to take the gospel to other people that I had forgotten to let the gospel work in me. As I listened in that missionary car in Kentucky, Sister Burton gave me three principles of the Atonement that I needed to understand.
First, the Atonement of Jesus Christ will eventually make fair everything that isn’t fair. “Why does the Lord allow suffering and adversity to come to us in this life?” Sister Burton asks. “Simply put, it is part of the plan for our growth and progress! We ‘shouted for joy’ when we knew we would have the opportunity to come to earth to experience mortality.”
I realized that even though things weren’t working exactly how my companion and I wanted them to, we could have faith that things would be right in the end. When I understood that principle, I was able teach my investigators that their troubles could be healed through the Savior’s Atonement.
Second, the Atonement allows us to repent, but it also enables us to continually improve and expand our capacities. Because of the Savior, I could overcome my discouragement and become a better teacher, and my investigators could overcome the problems that were keeping them from progressing in the gospel.
And third, Heavenly Father’s love is manifest in the Atonement of his Son. I could take comfort in the love of the Savior, and I could share that love with the people I visited.
“When each of us has the doctrine of the Atonement written deep in our hearts,” Sister Burton says, “then we will begin to become the kind of people the Lord wants us to be when He comes again. He will recognize us as His true disciples.”
I’m not a full-time missionary anymore, but every time I wonder how to better serve the people around me, I look at how I’m letting the Savior into my life and how I’m letting him serve me.
Watch or read Sister Linda K. Burton’s talk “Is Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ Written in Our Hearts?”
—Jennifer Johnson, Mormon Insights
Find more insights
Watch this Mormon Message about the effects the Atonement can have in our lives.