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Friday, May 1, 2015

A Testimony of the Savior and The Atonement

Dear Bro Jo,

A long time ago I wrote you the following . . .

Dear Bro Jo,

After about four years, I finally have my life put back together.

My first year of middle school, I became disillusioned I guess with my life.

I feel like I have committed almost every sin there is to commit, and came very close to the worst ones.

I became addicted to pretty much everything there is to become addicted to, whether it was not eating, masturbation or pornography (two of the most dirty words to me...), or self inflicted pain.

Ironically, because I have never tried alcohol or illegal drugs, people for the most part didn't notice. I continued to break commandments and I hurt so many people, most of all myself. I have broken every promise, every covenant really, I have turned away from the gospel, from Christ and My Heavenly Father, at the time I most needed them.

I was (still am?) not chaste, and the only thing left was murder.

Ironically, the very first mistake I made, turning away the promise of help and healing from the Gospel, still came to my aid. 

I was so close to killing myself, so close, when we had a fireside on Christ. 

What an amazing experience! 

It gave me such a new look into Christ's pain and suffering on my behalf, and it was then that I decided to stop cutting. 

Of course, it was addicting, and I didn't stop then. 

But then it just...wasn't a part of my life anymore. I don't have any good way of dealing with pain and stress, which makes me still want to hurt myself, but I don't cut. 


I don't know. 

God has helped, has helped me learn that I can survive without it. 

I told a few people of the problems I had, and they tried to help, but it was only half truths. 

After a while I just stopped reaching out, and it was really bad. I never told anyone about anything else, and I lied continuously to my Bishop. 

I have changed so much this year though! 

I don't read pornography, I don't obsess over my weight, I haven't thought of suicide as an option for weeks. 

And the best thing, I haven't cut myself. 

I am sad whenever I see the scars on my arms and legs, but I know that I will never go back to that. 

 I know my Heavenly Father loves me, I know I am beautiful, even if not by the world's standards, and it's so easy to find beauty and worth in others because of that. 

I love being the Mia Maid Class president, and I love my leaders and friends and try to serve and build them up the way they've helped me. 

My MM adviser said a few weeks ago that I was perfect, the most righteous person in the present group. 

She believes that I am doing great, well on my way to the Celestial kingdom. 

Bro Jo, I AM doing great, I am following in the footsteps of Christ, and have a strong testimony. 

Will I ever be able to shake my past off? 

Will it continue to haunt me, regardless of what I do in my future? 

In seminary we had a lesson on how sins are forgiven. 

They aren't just canceled out, as if you can sin as long as the scales tip in favor of your good works, but I think that's what I'm doing. I am so involved with service and leadership, I know I am doing great with my calling as class president, everyone says so, especially the Bishop, but it doesn't really count, does it?

~ (Name Withheld)

You wrote back, but I don't have that stored online, I printed it out and have it with me. You bore your testimony, shared what you believed I should do, and begged me to call my Bishop.

I didn't.

I kept pretending that I was whole. It was just me pretending.

Then maybe half a year ago I met with my Bishop and tried to tell him, but I couldn't. I couldn't do it.

I continued to grow. I love seminary!

I love young women’s (a Laurel now) and my leaders are amazing.

My brother went on his mission.

All these things started to happen, and my focus in life moved to the Gospel.

I began to love the Gospel.

My parents volunteered at the temple baptistery, and I went with them.

I felt so good there, but was still trying to cover the hole by myself that my sins had made.

I felt guilty.

Last Saturday I went to the Temple.

I realized that I loved the Temple, that it was a holy place, a sacred place, and that I didn't belong there, because I was still unclean.

But the thing was, I had felt perfect joy. Just for a little bit.

I had felt how I could feel forever, if I could get my sins from so long ago to stop haunting me.

So today I spoke with my Bishop.

I told him everything...and it was easy.

If there is a way to feel Hell, the outer darkness, or whatever, I had felt it during the past few years when I was sinning so seriously, and when I was lying to myself.

Do you understand?

It was easy, it was painless, but it would have been impossible if I hadn't wanted that perfect joy I felt. I'm whole!

I tell you this now, because I remembered your letter,

Always, I remembered you asking me to talk to my Bishop.

I knew I needed to. I wouldn't though. But now I have.

Your postscript asked "Please keep me apprised of your progress" Well, it's a little bit later than what it should have been, but this is it.

I am whole. and happy and peaceful and joyous and I will be worthy to see my Heavenly Parents someday.

I feel really, really good.

I guess it is because you don't know me, because I will probably never see you, or because you write about teenagers and their issues that I asked for help (back then), and that I now feel it important to tell you about my experience.

Thank you.

Now, it's time for me to get to work.

My friends need the Gospel.

They need to hear my stronger testimony.

I want to be good, and strong in this true Gospel, because Satan will not give up on bringing me back down to where I've been.

But I will not go.

I am stronger than him because I have a whole arsenal of awesome spiritual things.

- (Name Withheld)

Dear NW,

Thank you so much for your letter.

I've thought about you from time to time, and wondered how you've been.

I wish I had done a better job when you wrote . . . I'm sorry I wasn't more inspirational.

If you think of anything I could have said or done better, please let me know.

But I'm very happy for you and where you are now!

As you share the Gospel with others, please remember two things: honey is sweeter than vinegar, and confession of past sins can wrongly be interpreted as permission (especially by young people).

Thank you for sharing your testimony of the Savior and the power of His atonement in our lives.

May the Lord continue to bless your life,

- Bro Jo

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