Of all the things I had imagined I would be doing in my life, what I was experiencing was not one of them. There I sat contemplating my situation—lonely and discouraged. Life with my husband and children had become extremely uncomfortable. Even after acquiring some new communication skills from several months of counseling, it seemed we were at a standstill. For some reason I could not seem to feel any love for my husband.
The thought of leaving my family and marriage behind left me cold and empty. Then a thought even came into my mind that I had married the wrong person. Immediately my mind flashed back to the time when I had knelt and asked my Heavenly Father for a confirmation of the strong desire I had to marry my sweetheart. The memory of that moment when the Spirit of the Lord filled my soul with peace and comfort was enough to eliminate that idea from my mind. But even though I knew it had been right to marry my husband, I still felt that if only he would change a few things, life would be much better for us.
Though I sat still, my spirit fought, like a wild horse, the Master’s efforts to tame me. When my heart was finally broken, I conceded to Him that I was incapable of resolving this problem on my own. When I became willing to accept whatever the Lord would tell me, I became painfully aware that I was part of the problem and that for our marriage to continue, I needed to forgive. Yet my husband had committed no major sins! For years I had refused to forgive the simple human weaknesses and irritations that can so frequently manifest themselves when two human beings share their lives and their love. Now I faced the realization that my inability to forgive was the major roadblock to a successful marriage.
Accepting this truth, I resolved I would do better. However, just telling myself that I wanted to forgive was not changing my feelings. Years of harbored resentment had created wounds that would not easily heal, so I struggled to let go of all my hurt and pain.
Feeling powerless to change my feelings, I cried out in prayer, “Father, please help me forgive—through the power of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of this world.” A feeling of peace swept through my body, and I felt renewed in every part of my being. In amazement, I thanked Heavenly Father for the gift He had given me. My hurt was swept away, my pains were erased, and love beyond description filled my heart. I was experiencing the power of the Atonement. I recalled Alma’s language, “There could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains,” but on the other hand, “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (see Alma 36:21).
Having now tasted the delicious fruit of the Atonement, I could not bear the thought of ever carrying my burdens alone again. I realized that the command for daily repentance meant that I needed a time for daily renewal, a time to have my spirit cleansed, a time to forgive and let go of even the little hurts so they would not find a place in my heart in which to fester.
Our challenges did not disappear, but a spirit of peace filled me with love and helped us work through them. Perhaps I will never find adequate words to describe the difference the Atonement of Jesus Christ has made in our family. With past hurts resolved and forgiven, dealing with the problems of daily living is not the overwhelming challenge it once had been. With consistent reliance on the power of the Atonement, my emotions have become more stable, trust has been restored, and I have a strong desire to maintain the spirit of charity. My resolve is much like Alma’s—“from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, … that I might bring [my family] to taste of the exceeding joy which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, … [and] the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors” (Alma 36:24–25).