Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President
Making, keeping, and rejoicing in covenants will be the evidence that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is truly written in the hearts of Latter-day Saint women, said Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president.
Speaking during the General Relief Society Meeting on September 29, she asked women gathered in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and around the world to remember three principles: One, all that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Two, there is power in the Atonement to enable Church members to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ. And three, the Atonement is the greatest evidence Latter-day Saints have of the Father’s love for His children.
“I invite us to ask the Lord to write these principles of the Atonement in our hearts,” she said. “I testify that they are true.”
Sister Burton said as a new Relief Society president, she and her counselors have sought the Lord earnestly to know what essential things He would have Relief Society sisters do to continue moving His work forward.
“We have felt that Heavenly Father would first have us help His beloved daughters understand the doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we do so, we know our faith will increase, as will our desire to live righteously,” she said.
“Second, as we have considered the critical need to strengthen families and homes, we have felt that the Lord would have us encourage His beloved daughters to cheerfully cleave to their covenants. When covenants are kept, families are strengthened.
“Finally, we feel He would have us work in unity with the other auxiliaries and with our priesthood leaders, striving to seek out and help those in need to progress along the path. It is our fervent prayer that each of us will open our hearts and let the Lord engrave in them the doctrines of the Atonement, covenants and unity.”
Sister Burton told the congregation that they cannot expect to strengthen families or help others unless they first have written in their own hearts a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement.
Speaking of the three principles, Sister Burton said, “It is my hope that understanding these principles will bless each of us whether we are new to the Church or lifelong members.”
Principle 1: “All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
“Our testimonies, like yours, have been written in our hearts as we have faced assorted soul-stretching challenges and adversities,” she said. “Without an understanding of Heavenly Father’s perfect plan of happiness and the Savior’s Atonement as the central feature of that plan, these challenges could seem unfair.”
Sister Burton asked the worldwide congregation why the Lord allows suffering and adversity to come to Church members. ”Simply put, it is part of the plan for our growth and progress.”
Principle 2: There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ.
“There is a way to help us know when we have learned a doctrine or principle of the gospel,” Sister Burton explained. “It is when we are able to teach the doctrine or principle in a way that a child can understand it.”
She said a valuable resource to teach children to understand the Atonement is an analogy found in a Primary lesson. In the analogy, a woman fell into a deep pit. She could not get out herself and called for help. A kind passerby heard her cries and lowered a ladder. Sister Burton told the women in the congregation they are like the woman in the pit. Sin, she said, can be likened to falling in the pit.
The power of the Atonement “not only enables us to climb out of the pit, but also gives us power to continue on the strait and narrow path leading back to the presence of our Heavenly Father.”
Principle 3: The Atonement is the greatest evidence we have of the Father’s love for His children.
Quoting Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Sister Burton said, “‘Think how it must have grieved our Heavenly Father to send His Son to endure incomprehensible suffering for our sins. That is the greatest evidence of His love for each of us!’ (Dallin H. Oaks, “Love and the Law,” Ensign, November 2009).
“That supreme act of love ought to send each of us to our knees in humble prayer to thank our Heavenly Father for loving us enough that He sent His Only Begotten and perfect Son to suffer for our sins, our heartaches, and all that seems unfair in our own individual lives.”
Sister Burton said every sister in the Church should know that she is a beloved daughter of God. “How does knowing our worth to Him change how we keep our covenants? How does knowing our worth to Him affect our desire to minister to others? How does knowing our worth to Him increase our desire to help those who need to understand the Atonement as we do—way down deep? When each of us has the doctrine of the Atonement written deep in our hearts, 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.”