I was raised a Mormon and have always believed in Jesus as the Son of God. However, in my early years, my belief in him was quite superficial. I primarily thought of him in terms of the resurrection, being saved from death. I also thought of him as my savior from sin, but I didn’t understand that very well. I was focused on the mortal aspects of his life: where he lived, what he did, what he taught.
It wasn’t until I began to understand the principle of grace that I began to have a deeper feeling toward Jesus. I first heard about grace when I was a missionary and read a talk on grace by a BYU professor. I didn’t understand what he was saying, because I had never heard that concept before. Years later, as I understood the Gospel more, I began to understand grace.
I’ve tried to express in my essays my belief that salvation, that is the removal of our sins, comes completely through grace. As D&C 19:16 teaches, we come to Christ through repentance, though changing our lives to conform more with his life. But our repentance does not remove sin. The removal of our sins comes from Christ through his grace. He requires that we come in repentance and then he allows his atonement to cleanse us. Many Mormons confuse the two, as I did earlier on, thinking that their repentance removes sin, that if they just try harder they can become clean. A different perspective is needed: it’s not a matter of trying harder; it’s a matter of becoming more like Christ — our focus must be on him not on us.
Over the years, I have grown, and am still growing, to have a deeper love of Jesus Christ, as I partake of his grace. As I’ve come to feel in my heart that if it weren’t for Jesus Christ, I couldn’t become free from the shackles of my sins, I’ve come to understand and appreciate him and his atonement more. This has caused me to want to become like him. I’ve come to have a lot of gratitude for what he did for me. I’ve felt his unconditional love towards me, and I’m learning that I want to have that love toward others. He is becoming the center of my life, although the road towards that is winding and slow, because I become distracted by the things of the world. At times, during the passing of the Sacrament, I think of Jesus suffering in the garden and on the cross. I realize that he didn’t do that for himself but for me, and my heart fills with gratitude and love for him.
I know that Jesus is the Son of God, my Redeemer and Savior. I know that he, only he, can remove my sins, and I’m grateful for his unconditional love to me. I love him and want to be like him. I pray that I may not let the things of this world come between us. I pray that I may reach the point of humility and repentance that I give my life to him.