The Church’s Relief Society, Young Women and Primary general presidents spoke to Latter-day Saint women about the Atonement on May 2.
Sister Linda K. Burton, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson and Sister Rosemary M. Wixom offered remarks to a near-capacity crowd gathered in the Marriott Center at BYU during a general session of BYU Women’s Conference.
Sister Burton, Relief Society general president, said the Atonement heals, comforts, consoles and enables.
Promising the women that the Lord’s grace will strengthen them in weakness, Sister Burton spoke of a “tutoring time” that happened in her own life 30 years ago. Her husband was serving as bishop and the family had four small children and had gone without income for almost a year. “It wasn’t long until we were on the brink of losing our home,” she said. “To make matters worse, Christmas was coming.
“We tormented ourselves with regrets and self-doubting thoughts that began with words like ‘if only we had,’ ‘why didn’t we,’ ‘we should have,’ or ‘we shouldn’t have,’ and similar thoughts and self-condemnation.”
During this time, Sister Burton said her cousin gave her father a copy of her great-great-grandmother’s autobiography, which he, in turned, loaned to her.
“Each night after the children were in bed, I would stay up late reading about Mary Lois Walker Morris while waiting for my husband to get home from his bishopric responsibilities. I came to know and love her, and I wept over her life, which was filled with challenges much greater than my own.”
Sister Burton’s great-great grandmother left England at the age of 15 with her parents to join with the Saints. She suffered homesickness, seasickness, cramped quarters and faith-testing ravaging ocean storms. When Mary was 16, her mother died. As a 17-year-old newlywed, she crossed the plains on foot without her husband — who did not have the money to make the journey. When Mary was 19 her first child and her husband died. She would remarry but would bury two more children.
“Although her life was filled with one major trial after another, Mary’s autobiography surprisingly reflects sweet expressions of faith and testimony,” said Sister Burton.
Sister Burton said the Lord helps His children learn through the experiences of others in order to help them overcome their own trials and tribulations. “Such was the case with me as I read Mary’s story. I realized that her faith in the Savior and His amazing grace enabled her to surmount heartache after heartache and challenge after challenge.”
Sister Burton told Latter-day Saint women as they move along life’s path, the Lord gives them burdens to carry that they might yoke themselves to Him. “Yoking ourselves to Him not only helps us develop the spiritual muscle needed to get us through our current trials but also blesses us with His enabling power, which helps us face the future trials that surely await us.”
The world, she said, would have people believe that trials are unfair. “We may forget in the heat of our trials that God is aware of us and that He has a plan for us. He knows us individually and perfectly and customizes our mortal experiences to help us grow into our very best selves — if we will let Him.”
Sister Oscarson, Young Women general president, said everyone, without exception, needs the power of the Atonement. “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real, and it is personal,” she said.
Sister Oscarson shared her personal journey that led to this testimony.