The valiant virtuoso in my life was following the shadow of my two older brothers even though it’s cadence came at my own expense at times. These crazy coots took delight in scaring the death out of me on many occasion. A wound they enjoyed re-opening was my fear of being alone. While teasing me along our walk home from school, they would say, “hey Misti, look over there” and off they flew over the fence, ducking as they hid behind the canal wall. I would start to cry and they laughed their heads off. I really don’t know why I was so afraid of being alone, other than getting scared on a daily basis by my brothers, and I know many of us at one time or another have suffered or continue to suffer from abandonment or separation anxiety.
In the famous Brothers Grimm fable Hansel and Gretel, the sibling’s step-mother schemes with their father to abandon the two children deep in the forest in order to save their own lives during a period of starvation, famine and trials. Though fearful, the children’s astuteness preserved their lives as they prepared for the events that would surely come by collecting bread crumbs to scatter along the path. Hansel and Gretel’s anxieties were minimized because they listened and prepared themselves how to return home safely.
How can we prepare or learn how to overcome our fears of being alone. Perhaps, by first knowing we aren’t alone in being alone. The Savior’s greatest accomplishment in His life was done alone, in the Garden of Gethsemane. His at-one-ment or separation from all humanity enabled Him to draw upon prayer, angels and His love and obedience to the Father. In the Garden, Jesus was left alone to carry out His Atoning sacrifice as His disciples and even God the Father would leave or betray Him. Alone, He would suffer all the sins, pains and agony of mortality for each of us. One of the greatest pains that caused Him to bleed through each of His pores was knowing He would be abandoned by so many of us! Yet, He will not leave us. Despite His unconditional love and His desire for us to live with Him again in Eternal Glory, few would reciprocate and follow Him.
“Indeed the Atonement of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh is the crucial foundation upon which all Christian doctrine rests and the greatest expression of divine love this world has ever been given. Its importance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be overstated. Every other principle, commandment, and virtue of the restored gospel draws its significance from this pivotal event. 2
The literal meaning of the English word Atonement is self-evident: at-one-ment, the bringing together of things that have been separated or estranged. The Atonement of Jesus Christ was indispensable because of the separating transgression, or Fall, of Adam, which brought two kinds of death into the world when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 3Physical death brought the separation of the spirit from the body, and spiritual death brought the estrangement of both the spirit and the body from God. As a result of the Fall, all persons born into mortality would suffer these two kinds of death. But we must remember the Fall was an essential part of Heavenly Father’s divine plan. Without it no mortal children would have been born to Adam and Eve, and there would have been no human family to experience opposition and growth, moral agency, and the joy of resurrection, redemption, and eternal life. 4The Atonement was the foreordained but voluntary act of the Only Begotten Son of God in which He offered His life and spiritual anguish as a redeeming ransom for the effect of the Fall of Adam upon all mankind and for the personal sins of all who repent. Jeffery R. Holland
This Easter season, while we are coloring easter eggs, camping in the outdoors, eating chocolate, ham or deviled eggs, I invite all to ponder what it would feel like if you were separated, left alone or abandoned. If you discovered all your family and friends had betrayed or left you. If your abandonment included even God (If our choices separate us from Him because God’s spirit cannot dwell in unholy places). It’s during times of fatness comfort and ease we must prepare for the day of trial when evil plots are up against us to leave us alone in the woods, away from those who love and protect us and especially separate us from HIM. It is up to our spiritual preparedness whether we recognize these plots. Can we prudently store up a little here and there so when times are hard, we will find our way back home? What is our breadcrumb? The Savior will never play tricks and abandon or hide from his children, it is we who hide from him.
He truly protects us from the anxieties of being alone. The fear of becoming lost or separated in physical or spiritual death has been swallowed up on the cross. My heart swells with gladness knowing through him, I can find my way back home as I partake of the BREAD OF LIFE, even the sacrament each Sunday and submit my will to the will of the Father and REPENT. When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze. Then sings my soul, how great Thou art! And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in. Then on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sins. When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart! Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim, My God, how great Thou art! Stuart K. Hine