About a month ago, I was discussing the topics of forgiveness and the mercy of Jesus Christ with a friend. (Actually, now that I think about it, I discussed it with more than one friend.)
In any case, I tried to think of a few examples to explain some of my questions and this is what I said:
"A few years ago, I lent a friend my violin to use. I call it the blue
violin because it had a distinct blue case. My friend lost the
violin. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't demand her to buy me a
new one because a violin is expensive! In some ways, it wasn't worth it
since it was just my high school student violin. But then again, it
was a violin that had a lot of memories for me. I told my friend that
it was ok and never held it against her. I knew it wasn't her fault and
refused to let it get in the way of our friendship but when I thought
about it, I still felt sad that my only violin and one with important
memories for me, was gone."
I looked at my friend and asked, "I think I've forgiven her. But why, then, when I think about it, does it still hurt?"
My friend looked at me and replied very matter-of-fact,"That's because you still don't have a violin. For the Atonement to fully work, it should make up for your loss."
I looked at him, surprised. "Like, give me a new violin?"
My friend didn't even pause, "Yes."
What seemed so simple to him was simply baffling to me. I asked him about other situations where "loss" was less tangible - such as loss of virtue or loss of love, hope, self-esteem. He insisted it worked, that we would come to a new reality
where the loss ceased to be seen or felt as a "loss".
I confess - I walked away from that conversation confused. I wondered at
those words for a long time and wondered if the Atonement really had the
power to make up for all the losses of all the people in the world. I
mean, I believe in Christ and his infinite atonement so in my head,
yes, I believed it, but in my heart, I didn't know how it was possible.
Recently, I ran into my friend's mom and she was holding my blue violin! She smiled and
apologized that it had taken so long for me to get it back (we're
talking 5+ years). I felt like I had just witnessed a miracle. When I told my rational and wise friend from before, even he was surprised and delighted.
Through this experience, I felt that God was answering my bigger questions, "Erin, if I can return your long
lost violin, then surely, surely, I can make up for the losses that
come in our lives. The loss of virtue, the loss of
time, the loss of loved ones and the loss of feelings of love and peace
and hope. Those can all be made up. My Atonement truly can heal!"
This experience also teaches me something of forgiving others and being forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift - a precious one - and also a miracle.