Thoughts Shared with a Suffering Friend
It's been a horrific day for me.
Not because of any great calamity, personal challenge, or even heartache; but just because sometimes the work here within the bowels of the prison just saps my soul and dampens my heart.
And so it was for me today, so much so that, after working on sordid inmate criminal histories since 5:30 AM this morning, I finally just couldn't look at one more basefile, and leaned back in my office chair to take a short break of sorts.
Thoughts of you came immediately to my mind, perhaps because I had been so involved with the sad histories of the inmates on my case load and my mind sort of segued to you and your despair about your own spiritual and other challenges.
Shaking off those thoughts as not particularly helpful, I then fished through my office desk drawer to find something else to distract me from my fatigue and burnout.
I found an April, 2005 issue of the "New Era" ( a magazine for youth published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in the drawer, which I thought might be just the ticket to help me refocus and rebuild from my lethargy.
The first article by President Boyd K. Packer, however, brought my thoughts directly back to you as each line seemed to speak to me about the angst and despair you previously and so plaintively had expressed to me.
He pointed out that "there are times you cannot mend that which you have broken" and "Perhaps the damage was so severe that you cannot fix it no matter how desperately you want to...you are trapped.", and "It is easy to understand how hopeless and helpless you then feel and why you might want to give up...".
I've been there, unfortunately many times more than once in my own life; more so than you have, I suspect.
Anyway, Brother Packer then went on to promise that, "Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the Atonement of Christ.".
He went on to reassure us that, "I repeat...there is no habit, no addiction, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the Atonement of Christ.".
He then told the story of the immigrant lady who skimped and deprived herself for passage to America with her fellow Latter-day Saints, until she finally had enough for steerage class accomodations, but had very little money left over for anything else, including meals. When others went up above deck for their meals, she stayed below deck, trying to survive as best she could with little or no nourishment (unbeknownst to her fellow travelers). Finally, on the last day of the voyage and almost dead from starvation, she finally came up above deck to ask for just a morsel of food, only to find that the price of meals was included in her ticket all along.
I think all of us sell the Savior short, not understanding that forgiveness already is included in the price of the ticket He has purchased for us, just like that lady and her meals.
President Packer says that "discouragement is part of the test", but we should never give up. He promises all of us that "That brilliant morning will come.".
In "Gospel Doctrine" by President Joseph F. Smith, he also reminds us that "Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead....And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that ever have been or ever will be born upon this earth until the end of time...".
And so it is, with all my own multitude of flaws, I continue to find strength, comfort, and joy from the Atonement of Christ, knowing that His mercy is infinite, more so than I ever can hope to comprehend in the here and now.
(For a complete copy of the "New Era" article, visit www.lds.org. At that website, then go to "Gospel Library" and from there to "Church Publications".)