I’ve always found that I enjoy Sunday classes better when I speak up. Making comments helps me pay attention to the lesson and see how the principles apply to me personally. I never had a problem sharing my thoughts during lessons until after my older brother passed away on his mission.
The gospel principles I had a solid yet inexperienced testimony of suddenly became lifelines; I was overcome with gratitude and awe for Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and the plan of salvation. These feelings, combined with my grief, were so deep and overwhelming that I found it difficult to share them, especially at church. Every Sunday School or Relief Society lesson brought my emotions to the surface, and I struggled silently to keep them under control. There were times when I wished I could contribute, but I knew if I opened my mouth I would fall to pieces. Sometimes I wanted to just go home right after sacrament meeting and spare myself the emotional trauma, but I knew that if I went to my classes, I would hear something I needed to.
One Sunday, I was in a new ward just a few months after my brother’s funeral. The Relief Society lesson was on the Savior’s Atonement, and for the first half hour, the discussion was focused on how Christ suffered for our sins.
During the lesson, I was squirming in my chair, wondering when someone would mention Alma 7:11–13. That was a passage of scripture I had gone to again and again over the previous few months. It explained that Christ suffered for our pain as well as for our sins, “that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (verse 12). I wanted to share that important piece of doctrine, but I was already a mess, feeling extra self-conscious because nobody knew me. I was just the girl quietly breaking down at the end of the row, hogging the only tissue box in the room.
To my relief, someone finally raised her hand and said, “One of the reasons I’m so grateful for the Savior’s Atonement is that He experienced all the bad that we experience, along with our sins.” Her comment spurred a conversation about how Christ understands us perfectly, having lived each of our sorrows, trials, doubts, and fears. Women around the room bore testimony of how they felt the Savior’s love strengthen and heal them during defining moments of their lives.
Their words went straight to my heart. Even though I couldn’t find it within me to add my own voice that day, I could feel my testimony deepening. I was sure in that moment that by going to class, I had given the Lord an opportunity to comfort me in my pain through the testimonies of Relief Society sisters whom I didn’t even know.
That was just one of many times that I was able to have a fulfilling experience in a Church class because others there were willing to participate. I still enjoy sharing my thoughts when I feel I have something to add, but I also love listening to the comments of others and being taught and strengthened by them. By simply being present in Sunday meetings, we put ourselves in a position to lift up one another and, in our lowest moments, be lifted back up.