I still remember when Elder David A. Bednar gave his talk on the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was later quoted and focused on by Carol J. Rasmus.

Here is a direct quote from Bednar’s address:

I frankly do not think many of us ‘get it’ concerning [the] enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities.

The belief that through our own “sheer grit, willpower, and discipline” we can manage just about anything seems to be widespread these days. This simply is not true…

Before I continue my own commentary on this topic, let me place before you a couple parable-like metaphors.

  • A three-year-old young girl wants to play basketball, but the 10-foot-tall hoop is simply beyond her capacity. So, she grits and practices and throws, but no matter what she does, after weeks of total devotion, all she manages to do is to hit the rim—once. And not with the proper technique needed to grow up and become an accomplished player. Her father offers to alter the hoop, to lower it, to a realistic height for her to develop the proper skills and techniques. But, offended by the offer of assistance (since she thinks she can do everything for herself), the four-year-old rejects it and decides she simply won’t try to play basketball anymore. It’s too hard, and the years it will take to “grow up” seem too far away.
  • A middle-aged man, an inventor, has always been brilliant beyond his years. But, no matter what he invents, he can’t seem to get it from invention to market. He gets several offers for help on the business side from what appears to him to be fairly qualified people, but he simply doesn’t have faith in their ability to understand him or his inventions the way he does. He’s worried his inventions will lose integrity if he lets anyone else assist him. He also doesn’t want to share any of the glory of the invention simply to get it to market. So, refusing assistance, he remains unable to move forward and find success.

Stop for a moment. What do you think the commonality is (the shared ideal/belief) between the three-year-old girl and the middle-aged inventor that prevents them from accomplishing something they desire?

Enabling Power

The word enable means:

To make (someone or something) able to do or be something: to make (something) possible, practical…: to cause (a feature or capability) to be active or available for use: to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to; to authorize…

God has taught us through the scriptures that the atonement of Jesus Christ gives us grace. That grace cleanses our sin—when we repent—and ENABLES us to learn and grow from our experience. The cleansing is ENABLED when we sincerely repent. That grace AUTHORIZES/ENABLES us to be physically resurrected at some future day. But, above and beyond these very accepted aspects of the atonement of Jesus Christ; that grace ENABLES us to practice being godly on a severely adjusted hoop, so that over time we learn the proper godly principles, doctrines, and skills in the proper way. Grace ENABLES us to become godly by giving us assistance for our mortal handicaps.

Lowering the hoop for the three-year-old ENABLES her to practice her skills correctly. The hoop can be raised, little-by-little, as she grows in capability and skill. At some point, she won’t need the adjustments. But by lowering it initially, she can practice correctly.

Taking on a partner with a different kind of brilliance does not lessen an inventor’s invention. It ENABLES him to accomplish his design by leaning on the knowledge and help of another who has the skills he does not. Does it make the invention belong to both? Yes. But without help it would have only ever been an idea. Trusting in another makes it possible for hopes to become reality, just as trusting in God makes our ideals possible, even if we have to give Him most of the credit.

God ENABLES us Physically and Spiritually

Several years back, when I was teaching early morning seminary, I began to have severe nerve pain in my back right heel. The nerve pain was right next to my Achilles tendon, and because of that, I immediately thought I had strained or even injured that vital muscle. It has always been a fear of mine to injure my Achilles. So, when this nerve began acting up, I immediately began all the necessary home treatment. I took ibruprofen. I iced it. I rested it. I stayed off of it. I tried to walk carefully and stretch it when possible. But, after a few weeks, so petrified I was going to rip the muscle, I borrowed crutches. The crutches ENABLED me to continue to get around. It ENABLED me to teach seminary (when I just as easily could have let another sub for me).

It was so difficult to trust in those crutches. I was so angry that all my diligent treatment hadn’t saved me from needing so much help. I was in despair that I couldn’t help my parents or my family as I normally did. I was completely “benched” from most of my life, but those crutches ENABLED me to accomplish, minimally, the mission the Lord had for me at the time.

It took a priesthood blessing, another ENABLING gift, to learn that God would heal me. It took a visit to a foot doctor (something I’d spurned up until that point), another ENABLING gift, to learn that my muscles were fine, that it was a nerve that was the problem. It took anti-inflammatory medicine and orthotics—two more ENABLING gifts—to rehabilitate that nerve and get it to quiet down.

Ultimately, it is the atonement of Jesus Christ that will completely ENABLE a full healing in our souls: emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. But, until that day comes, God has provided ENABLING help: friends and family, psychologists, medical methods and apparatuses, and repentance, priesthood power, blessings, and the gift of the Holy Ghost to ENABLE us to learn and grow and become like Him (and to serve Him).

If it’s a lowered basketball hoop, a business partner, a walker or wheelchair, a translator, a piece of workout equipment, a friend, a medication, or one (or many) of several other things; ALL of it is part of God’s ENABLING power made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ. There is no aspect of this life that He hasn’t designed to ENABLE us to become like Him. We should never give up because our own grit and hard work isn’t sufficient. It is because of the ENABLING power of the atonement of Jesus Christ that any of our efforts gain any power or validity.

Learn to See

For many of us, it’s hard to admit that our own efforts aren’t enough. It’s hard to admit that not only do we make mistakes but that our best efforts need an extra push. But, learning that all that we do requires grace can lead us in two different directions. Either we can throw up our hands and decide that we don’t have to make any effort at all—which is, counterproductive. Because that means all that godly power has very little to enable and so we make very little progress. OR, we can realize that all that we have ever accomplished has been with help and that we can accomplish even more the more we trust in and rely on God—and His many ENABLING gifts and blessings. That’s when the enabling power gains momentum in our lives and we make real progress.

We sort of have to alter the way we see ourselves. We have to learn to see that we’ve had a “lowered hoop” since day 1; and that realizing that in addition to that lowered hoop we need to add on metaphorical knee pads, tape up a few ankles, and get a lighter basketball shouldn’t daunt us, but allow us to press forward faster, better than we did before. Accepting the gifts of the ENABLING power of the atonement in our lives, accepting that we need them, seeing ourselves in the proper light, allows us to progress faster, not slower. The more we trust in and accept God’s grace (in whatever forms it manifests itself), the faster we learn, grow, progress, and become the person that God designs for us to become.

I spurned those crutches. I spurned having to ice and put my foot up nearly all day every day. I hated not being able to do what I wanted to do. But those little things ENABLED me to press on until I was willing to get real help. Then, even that real help didn’t make me independent (which is what I was going for). It gave me power, it ENABLED me, to understand my weakness and learn to use other ENABLING gifts to walk again and serve the Lord and function in my life. It made me more dependent on God, not less.

I still have to make special adjustments to my shoes to keep that nerve from acting up. I am now limited to the kinds of shoes I can wear. And, I have to spend a lot more on the shoes I can wear because my feet require a lot of ENABLING help. But, the knowledge I have gained has ENABLED me to learn how to continue to progress in my life. It has ENABLED me to keep walking (even it if it is with a little help). It has helped me to recognize other nerve problems that have surfaced. The entire experience with that nerve has ENABLED me in other ways.

Life has taught me that grit and willpower are powerful because of the enabling power of God’s grace, NOT that I can get by without grace because of my grit and willpower. At this Christmas season, I hope each of us will see ourselves as we really are: being with all sorts of handicaps already depending on many ENABLING gifts and blessings. I hope we will see that Christ came to ENABLE us, to save us from depending solely on ourselves. He came so that our efforts have both meaning and power, because of His grace.



Is there only one perfect person out there for you? Is there such a thing as soul mates?

Well, when I met my first husband, at the old age of 19, I was certain he was “the one.” After all, he was a return missionary, he was tall, he played sports, he was super fun to be around, he had a killer smile, was charismatic, and I’ll never forget the first time I heard him bear his testimony. I felt strongly that, “this man knows the Lord.” And I know he did. And, I suspect he still does.

In fact, though I nurtured a crush on him, it wasn’t until my first husband bore his testimony that I fell in love with him. After that, I didn’t really worry about it. I felt he was “the one.”

And, even after our 11-year marriage ended, it wasn’t because I had decided he wasn’t the one. It was because he decided that I wasn’t right for him. And, all things considered, perhaps I wasn’t. But, it didn’t mean it couldn’t have worked out. In fact, it could have. He could have remained the right one. But, I didn’t understand that at the time.

So, once that marriage failed I had to ask myself a lot of questions I had never asked before. And, as a Latter-day Saint woman, these were highly significant questions. Questions like:

  1. Why did God let me marry him if it wasn’t going to work out in the long run?
  2. Did I misinterpret the peace, the answer I thought I got to marry him?
  3. If I did, does that mean personal revelation is bogus?
  4. Could I have done something to save the marriage that I hadn’t already done?
  5. Did the marriage fail because I wasn’t good enough? Pretty enough? Etc.
  6. Were my eternal marriage covenants still valid for me? Or did the other party screw it up for me?
  7. Did I want to ever get remarried?
  8. Would I ever get remarried?
  9. Did I need to get remarried to receive all the blessings God had promised me during the covenant ordinance?
  10. Was there only one right person for me, and if so, had I lost all chances for happiness?

The list of questions was a lot longer than this, but these were the general strain of thought I went down.

It’s very easy when at a crossroads like this to question the foundation of our beliefs, especially as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e. Mormons). When all that we have bargained on is directly tied to personal revelation we feel that we have received, our first instinct is to question the revelation, God, and in consequence our beliefs.

The Atonement Helps Us Find True Love

Just as it is in every lesson, talk, and scripture, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is always preached as the answer to everything. Sin, use the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Hurt, sorrow, emotional pain, use the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Grace, grace, grace…

Well, as I wondered down this path of questioning, it was not my first instinct to curse God for letting me enter a marriage that would fail. I certainly was upset that it had failed. But, it was not my natural inclination to blame Him. Sadly, my natural inclination was to blame ME. I tore myself apart and, of course, was shown quite clearly how I might have been better in some aspects. God didn’t hide truth from me. But, He also taught me two very important truths that I had been unable to consider prior to, and up until this point after the divorce.

First, the divorce wasn’t about me. It was about covenants. God taught me that though I’d been “let go,” that it was actually He who had been divorced from the other party. The covenant we had made with Him together was what mattered. The covenant was what had made the love true.

When the covenant was abandoned by my spouse, God had been abandoned. God had been abandoned before me, and in place of me…in a sense. And when God was abandoned the love ceased to be true.

Second, that because I had been willing to keep my covenant, though extremely imperfect and certainly not faultless, my connection to God had not been severed. The covenant I kept held me to Him. Therefore, only one party had removed themselves from the marriage. It was both God and I who had been divorced.

Third, the thing that allowed me to still hope for true love was the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

You see, Christ’s Atonement and it’s power (grace) can fix anything. But, it would be rendered pointless if there was only one person in life we could find eternal happiness with. Missing out on a relationship that has the potential to be eternal is just like all other aspects of life. We can miss such relationships. We can mess up. We can let people go we should have stuck with. People can let us go when they should have stayed. It’s still a mess up. And, if we could not repent from, heal from, or recover from such an unwise mishap in our lives, then what would be the point of life? What would be the point of grace? There would not be one.

Thus, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the principle of grace that we apply to sin, suffering, sorrow, and so many other things, is also the very thing that preaches to us that there being only one true love in the whole wide world for us is a false doctrine.

We can’t miss out on true love if we understand that it doesn’t reside in a person. True love resides in God and in His covenants. So, when we think about trying to find the right one, what we are really looking for is someone who will remain true to their covenants with God, no matter what. If they will stay true to God then they will stay true to us. If they will stay true to their covenants with God in sickness, health, poorness or wealth, etc. then they will stay true to us.

I’ll say it again, true love resides in the covenant of marriage, not in the person you make it with.

How to Find Your One True Love

Dallin H. Oaks talked about the doctrine of good, better, and best (Ensign, November 2007). President Gordon B. Hinckley also often referred to this principle: that there are many options available to us to choose from but that some are good, some are better, and some are best.

The principle works like this. On any given day there are several things we can choose to do. Most of the activities we engage in are not evil. But, at any given moment there are good things we can do, better things we can do, and best things.

For example, we can get up and eat a donut for breakfast. That’s a good thing. Delicious! But, it’s even better to get a little exercise first and then eat something a little healthier. We’ll feel better. And we’ll have a delicious day by avoiding the guilt and physical after effects of that donut. But, it’s best if we first get down on our knees and offer a meaningful morning prayer, ponder a verse of scripture, then get a little exercise, and then eat a healthy breakfast.

Just like on any given day we can choose any number of good, better, or best choices. I believe strongly that at any given time in our life there are also good, better, and best choices of relationships for us. God can take any choice we make—and IF both parties are willing—lift it up and turn it into a best relationship. But, there is always a best choice for us and we can’t miss it if we own the choice. We have to own the responsibility for making that best choice.

Let me explain.

What is the False Doctrine in Having Only One True Love?

Believing that there is only one person meant for you takes all the responsibility for the relationship and the marriage covenant off of you and places it on the person you think you’re seeking. It places the responsibility on God, or someone else’s advice. When we do this, we ultimately make the decision for true love about getting lucky enough to meet a certain person. Since we can’t control anything in life, not really. This is a stupid way to view love. And a false one.

Albeit, this is a romantic view. But, it’s a temporary, untrustworthy, and unkind view. I have found from experience that it is quite a bit more romantic to trust in God than in people. And with God, true love is about faith, repentance, sacrifice, service, humility, persuasion, long-suffering, and so on. Even the sexual chemistry we feel toward others must transcend the physical and dig deeper into the spiritual and intellectual. It must reach God’s view.

God’s view is the correct view. And, it is hard. It’s nigh upon Abrahamic (meaning as hard as being asked to sacrifice your son). But, it’s also the ONLY view that can bring us—you, me, everyone—the love that their heart truly desires: true love. A love that lasts must bind people together. And the only thing on this earth and in heaven that binds is covenant (Doctrine & Covenants 82:10).

The Answer At Last

So, how do you find your one true love? There are only two steps.

  1. Become a covenant keeper.
  2. Find a covenant keeper.

Christ’s love is true and can’t be severed from us because His love has been bound by sacrifice and covenant (Romans 8:35, 39).


After my first marriage ended and I discovered the doctrine behind “true love” I went looking for a covenant keeper. And, then I stopped looking (actively) though when approached for dates this was my most critical requirement. Then, at the age of 35, God finagled a way to get my current husband into my life.

The man I met is not perfect. But, he is a covenant keeper. He keeps his covenants daily. He tries to make better and best choices, daily. And because he is a covenant keeper he has my adoration, my trust, my love, my long-suffering, my forgiveness, my patience, my honesty, and my heart.

We can all find the best person for us (our true love) or take our current relationship and make it best by loving God first, and by so doing becoming faithful covenant keepers. It begins and ends with our decision to keep covenants and to find another who does the same.


I’m going out of my normal format on this post. It’s a poem…and a painting.

I have to be honest. I did not come up with this idea on my own. A lady, named Naomi, in a the ward I grew up in, through various circumstances, provided the title and the impetus. It was such a brilliant idea! The moment it was presented to me I felt immediately impressed to write the poem below after studying Lehi’s dream for an entire day. The inspiration and work for the painting followed last night and today. So, here’s a brief thought to preface it.

Lehi recounted a dream/vision he had to his children: Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, etc. We get Nephi’s summary of the dream in 1 Nephi 8, and the interpretation thereafter. I’m quite sure there was more to it. But, because Nephi was the mouthpiece, we are resigned to be happy with his particular perspective. Which, is an effective perspective.

However, did Lehi’s dream, in detail, include more information on what it looks like when we begin to feel the pull to come back? Does the original (which we don’t have) talk more about repentance and those who come back from the great and spacious building, or who manage to find their way back after wandering off and being lost?

When those of us who do falter for a while begin to feel the pull to come back, it can be a daunting view when we turn again to find that sweet white fruit. We are living “Lehi’s dream,” and it’s not the part of the dream that’s fun. That tree, which contains the fullness of God’s love (as available through His ordinances and covenants), seems awfully far away. It’s not a matter of simply grabbing back onto the iron rod after having taken a few steps away. It’s a matter of starting a journey full of peril and struggle simply to get back to the iron rod. Then, once we find the rod it’s another journey to get back to the tree.

I wrote this poem for my kids…all of them. My past seminary kids. My present YW. My step kids. My daughter (who is still a toddler).  I also wrote it for my family–all of them. I dedicate this to “those whom I love,” that they may know that when they decide to turn back to that sweet, white fruit, that they can make it. The Man-in-white will be there. Christ’s grace is sufficient.

Below, find the picture I painted and the poem I wrote, both titled, “Back to the Tree.” Any time you see a (…) it indicates a “pause for effect.”


Back to the Tree

By the Doctrine Lady

I’m standing on a balcony that’s way up in the sky

I sometimes can’t remember how I got up here so high

I look across a wilderness with shadows long and tall

Then chance a glance down toward the ground, it makes me feel so small

The balcony it trembles underneath my tired feet

Then suddenly I am pelted with dark rains and bitter sleet

I take a step back from the ledge to get out of the rain

And find that even inside there is emptiness and pain

I cast my eyes out to the field as backward I retreat

And see a small light flickering with continual repeat

It wakes a mem’ry in my mind, I know that tiny flare

It’s small white fruit that’s on a tree in the darkness way out there


My soul begins to rumble like the building that I’m in

I’m hungry for that fruit, but my head is in a spin

The cement beneath my feet begins to crack a little bit

I turn and run to find some stairs, then fall into a pit

The people all around me, I guess they’ve been there all along,

Take notice of my wretched fall but still won’t heed my song

“We cannot get you out—if we do you’ll run away.”

“You’re better off here, trust us—it has to be this way.”

I cast my eyes up to the sky, but the building blocks my view

I feel no hope, I’m in despair, I don’t know what to do

I bow my head, hand on my heart, yet not sure how to begin

Then the building shakes, the ceiling cracks, and a little light gets in


My courage grows, I open my mouth and call out to the Lord

Then the building falls into an abyss, and I’m left hanging by a single cord

I get cradled by a warm south wind and it carries me to the ground

My feet touch down onto the earth, I don’t even hear a sound

My hungering soul leads me forward—into a deep dark night

But my feet trudge through some dreary waste and I lose the small white light

I walk and walk for hours and collapse upon the dirt

And when I wake I find myself in red mud up to my shirt

Determined to press forward now that day at last has dawned

I cast my eyes fast forward where a dirty fountain spawns

I scarce can see a trace, of the white fruit through mist and trees

Unworthiness, it crushes me, and I sink back to my knees


And then, before I cast myself back on the filthy ground

I hear a glorious being say, “At last you have been found.”

“I have left the flock to seek you. Please rise and take my hand.”

“For I am here to lead you past the river and the sand.”

Before I can look up, I feel sore tears upon my face

Then the Man-in-white He wipes them with His robes and with His grace

He bids me take His hand, then pulls me up off of the sod

Then strangely now He places my hand on a rusty iron rod

I take the metal in my hand, but I don’t want to cling real tight

And after walking just a bit, the Man-in-white soon leaves my sight

I panic now and stop and look to see where He has gone

And I only see the iron rod, it’s extensive, it is long


Yet, it’s dark enough to see among the mists and all the fog

That seem to appear from nowhere, so I break into a jog

But in my haste, my hand breaks free from the solid metal rail

My feet twist up, I trip and fall, and muddy water hides my wail

I’m drowning now in a murky bog, it’s bottom binds my feet

And suddenly, the rain is back, as is the cold, dark sleet

My limbs go numb and I curse myself, for letting go the rod

Why couldn’t I have just slowed down and been satisfied to trod

Impatience was my downfall, and some carelessness, and fight

I was angry that I had been left by the Man I saw in white

Not ready yet to freeze to death I start paddling with my hands

I call for help, … and there He is, … to remove my selfish bands


“Hold to the rod, I promise you, it’s strong and bright and true.”

“Look past the rust and hold on tight, it’ll safely guide you through.”

I’m shivering now with cold, and I still feel a bit uptight

But I trembling stomp up to the rod while mumbling about my plight

Yet, casting my eyes forward I see through the mists a hole

And through that hole I see the fruit, it’s flickering warms my soul

Clinging a little tighter, I walk forward next to the rod

It’s sturdy, and it’s iron, and I trod and trod and trod

I’m tempted very often to keep my eyes cast down and back

But as I trip and stumble I notice my hand begins to slack

Remembering the filthy bog, I grab tight to the cold rail

I raise my eyes and find the fruit, I’m determined not to fail


The mists are cold, the darts are sharp, it would be so easy to let go

And the building in the air is back, it’s in the sun and all aglow

I see its people laughing, clinking glasses, and poking fun

They are pointing at me and my sodden clothes, and I suddenly want to be done

One hand pulls free from the iron rod, and for a moment I feel the warm

From the sun, and the building up in the sky, seep into that one arm

I start to cast off, to join the group, they beckon with hands to me …

Then I see the building shake a bit and my temptation is wrestled free

I remember how it crumbled and the treatment of its crowd

I remember how the Man-in-white heard my voice when I called out loud

I quickly grab back hold again of the rusty iron rod

But it looks a little more shiny to me, which I find a little bit odd


Hand-over-hand, I pull myself, with my eyes fixed upon the tree

The mists, they clear, and at last I see my fam’ly beckoning to me

A fire kindles in my soul and renewed hunger in my heart

I reach for their hands, and the offered fruit, and pull out a final dart

They pull me in, I feel ashamed, how had I forgotten they were here?

But they hold me tight and tend my wounds, and it’s suddenly all so clear

When finally fed and rightly healed, I feel a pounding in my head

It’s a mix of awe and gratitude and just a little dread

I turn my face toward the beautiful tree and see the Man-in-white

With arms outstretched, He calls to me, and I remember again my plight

I bow my head, in a mess of shame, as I think back on my past

Back then I didn’t quite understand what it meant to get off the path


Then feeling the pull of His powerful gaze, I slowly raise my eyes

He beckons to me, I swallow hard, wishing I’d prepared my weak replies

“I lost my way but I’ve come back. I never forgot the light.”

“I simply looked away too long, and doubt bedimmed my sight.”

“When mists of darkness hid the way I sought the building in the sky.”

“And then once there, I couldn’t recall, how I’d gotten up so high.”

“It wasn’t until I found the courage to look back the way I’d come.”

“Then, I saw the little light flickering, and I knew it was time to go home.”

… With measured steps, I close the space between His feet and mine

When barely there, … I fall to my knees, … and say, “My will is thine.”

The Man-in-white, He lifts me up, His hand beneath my chin

“Your will was all that I required so that I could cleanse your sin.”