1 | When I think of the word "exquisite," I usually think of it in reference to a work of creativity--a stunning painting, a perfectly crafted meal, a vibrant couture gown on the red carpet. Something so beautiful that it hurts. As someone whose work is to examine words and choose the one that will have the greatest impact, I was moved by both Alma the Younger and Elder Holland (the Younger!)'s use of the word "exquisite" to describe the power of the Savior's Atonement. When Alma undergoes his great conversion experience, he is "racked with inexpressible horror," a suffering he describes as "exquisite and so bitter" (Alma 36:14, 21). His pain is so deep, so piercing, that it is unparalleled. But when Alma turns to the Savior, the shadow of his pain is flipped to the other extreme, a love and light so piercing and illuminating it can hardly be expressed. As children of heavenly parents, we have been created to experience this entire exquisite range of emotion, and as spirit siblings to the Son of Man, we are always promised His protection and love if we will follow HIm. We can experience those heights of joy if we are willing.
2 | For many years, the words "Jesus Christ feels your pain" rang hollow for me. As I struggled through mental health issues in my teens and twenties, I didn't want to know someone else knew how I felt--I just wanted it to go away. Learning to access my Redeemer's succoring power is a journey I'm still on, but as I've slowly grown in spiritual maturity and my relationship with Him I am learning that, just as Elder Holland teaches, Jesus Christ helps to shoulder my burdens and supports me when I am in the middle of the most exquisite of trials. Jesus has walked every step of the trails I limp along, hoping to make it to the summit of celestial, eternal life. He knows how to guide me through the difficult patches, and He knows when I need to pass my backpack of burdens to Him and when I need to push myself a little further and strengthen my own muscles of endurance. The help He gives me isn't always what I'm imagining for myself, but it is always the right help for my eternal progression.
3 | There are so many cliches we toss out when we see people suffering, cliches that we think might help. "Everything happens for a reason." "You must have a lesson to learn." Maybe we berate ourselves with the thought that we are being punished or that God doesn't love us. At one point in my life, when trial after trial kept falling into my lap, no matter how hard I pled with my Heavenly Father for relief, I started to question what exactly He thought He was doing. Even though it was nearly a decade ago, I remember kneeling in the little hallway of my apartment and furiously praying with tears falling down my face for my trials to just stop. In the moment, I struggled to have perspective--I felt like my face was on some heavenly dartboard and I was taking a beating. However, when we are being faithful, when we truly trust in a Father who loves us and a Savior who understands us, we can walk through even darkest storms with faith that we are loved and that we will experience healing. Elder Holland reminds us that our difficult experiences bring us closer to the Savior we strive to emulate, helping us develop His attributes and His endurance. We are destined for the most exquisite happiness because of our Savior, and we can trust Him to lead us there.
"Thanks to His 'immediate goodness,' the instant we come unto Christ––demonstrating faith in Him and a true change of heart––the crushing weight of our sins starts to shift from our backs to His."
MATTHEW S. HOLLAND
"Brothers and sisters, suffering in righteousness helps qualify you for, rather than distinguishes you from, God's elect."
MATTHEW S. HOLLAND
How is your relationship with your brother Jesus Christ today?
Find a few minutes this week where you can either go on a quiet walk by yourself.
Try to picture Him beside you, helping you along your path.
Which burdens is He shouldering for you? Where is He letting you carry a little of the weight so you grow stronger? How is He guiding you and supporting you?
Think of at least five concrete ways the Savior is a gift in your life, and thank Heavenly Father for the gift of His Son.
I am beloved by my heavenly parents and my Brother Jesus Christ. As I walk along the covenant path, the Savior guides me, helps me carry burdens, and leads me closer to the ultimate gift of eternal life.