Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received His image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change of heart?” (Alma 5:14)
I’ve read this many times, but my own answer hasn’t always been a resounding, “YES.” I have often wondered, “How does one come to know Christ?” You can come to know about him by reading the scriptures and learning the stories in them. But knowing stories is not the same as knowing Christ. I was thinking about this, and I started to ponder, “How to you get to know anybody?” I started to think about my friend, B., and her family. I met her not long after I moved to the area, and I knew a few things about her, but I didn’t really start to get to know her until we served in the Primary together, and each week we’d chat, and she’d flirt with my baby. I realized, as I was thinking about this, that it was spending time with her, first in our callings, and then socially, that really began our friendship. After a while, we started to do other things as well. We had dinner together. We did service projects. They helped us, and we helped them. The friendship grew through time and shared experience.
The process of getting to know the Lord is much the same; we start to get to know him by spending time with him. Nephi said, “I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.” (1 Nephi 17:3) Prayer is the process by which we have conversations with the Lord. When we want to pick up the phone and talk to Him, prayer is how we do it.
Shared experience begins to accumulate when we do things with our friends. We gain shared experiences with the Lord when we do what He does. This is following His example. But it’s also trying to see people the way He sees them: developing real charity, which is so much more than giving money. It is a gift of love – of being able to love, to understand, even the most difficult of people. And, it is a Gift of the Spirit we are commanded to seek. Study charity in the scriptures. Pray for it. And practice it, and you will begin to have it in greater measure. And, you will begin to know the Lord better.
As we do these things, we will find a change taking place within ourselves. We will become more like Him! We will come to know Him better, and better. We will discover that He knows just what we need. We will learn that you can trust him with your hurts!
Christ is the Great Physician – He knows what you need. He will, however, often wait for your permission to help you. The path to perfection is a path of healing. In Conference, last October, Elder Timothy J. Dyches taught:
Jesus Christ heals body, mind, and spirit, and His healing begins with faith. Do you remember when your faith and joy were full to the brim? Remember the moment you found your testimony or when God confirmed to you that you were His son or daughter and that He loved you very much—and you felt whole? If that time seems lost, it can be found again. The Savior counsels us on how to be made whole—to be complete or become healed: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28–30) Come, follow me (Luke 18:22) invites us to leave behind the old life and worldly desires and become a new creature for whom "old things are passed away [and] all things are become new," even with a new, faithful heart. And we are made whole again. "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" As we draw near to Him, we realize that mortality is meant to be difficult and that "opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11) is not a flaw in the plan of salvation. Opposition, rather, is the indispensable element of mortality and strengthens our will and refines our choices. The vicissitudes of life help us fashion an eternal relationship with God—and engrave His image upon our countenance as we yield our hearts to Him (Alma 5:19)
Life is hard. At one day old, Tigress was admitted to the NICU with a collapsed lung and pneumonia, the first thing they did was to ask me to leave so they could place an IV. It needed to go into her belly button, and apparently the process of getting it in is very unpleasant. Later, she also had a chest tube placed. These procedures were done with very little medications because there is so little that can safely be given to someone so tiny: although she was full-term and the birth was uncomplicated, she was not quite 6 pounds and very ill. The NICU was difficult for all of us.
Life is hard, right from the start. We often joke about how little babies "have it made," but I no longer believe that to be the case. Even if you don’t start in the NICU, you begin completely helpless, unable to help yourself with the least little thing, or even to say what it is that’s bothering you! The process of learning to communicate even the most basic of needs and wants is a lengthy one, taking years, and until then, our little ones are completely dependent upon our ability to correctly read the situation and guess what it is that they want. Hard times are part of life. We all have need of the healing that Christ offers. Again from Elder Dyches:
President Thomas S. Monson has said, "There is one life that sustains those who are troubled or beset with sorrow and grief—even the Lord Jesus Christ." If you feel unclean, unloved, unhappy, unworthy, or unwhole, remember "all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." Have faith and patience in the Savior’s timing and purposes for you. "Be not afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36) Be assured the Savior still seeks to mend our souls and heal our hearts. He waits at the door and knocks. Let us answer by beginning again to pray, repent, forgive, and forget. Let us love God and serve our neighbor and stand in holy places with a life made clean. The impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, the leper along the journey to Jerusalem, and [others] were made whole. "Wilt thou be made whole?" Rise and walk. His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9), and you will not walk alone.
Our healing begins with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith grows as we read Christ’s words, we practice His virtues, we seek His help. And all these things work together to create a mighty change in us. We will come to feel the same things that the Old King felt when he said to Aaron, "...if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day." (Alma 22:18) Giving away all our sins is the only way that we can come to know God. He stands ready. If we will trust Him with our hurts, He will care for us as only He can.