Isaiah’s promise that followers of God can be “repairers of the breach” has always resonated with me. There are so many “breaches” in our world and lives that need repairing. Most glaringly is the breach or gap between us and God caused by the fall and by our own fallen and sinful state. But our relationships we others often have “breaches” as well that create conflict, tension, and misunderstanding.
So of course, I loved Sister Marriot’s talk on that great theme. She emphasized that we simply cannot love the way we need to without God’s help.
Sister Marriott first set out the challenge that we face in mortality:
It is now, with our mortal limitations, that the Father asks us to love when loving is most difficult, to serve when serving is inconvenient, to forgive when forgiving is soul stretching. How? How will we do it? We earnestly reach for Heavenly Father’s help, in the name of His Son, and do things His way instead of pridefully asserting our own will.
As Sister Marriott emphasizes, we simply cannot do it alone: ”Independently forcing ourselves to have humility and trying to make ourselves love others is insincere and hollow, and it simply doesn’t work. Our sins and pride create a breach–or a gap–between us and the font of all love, our Heavenly Father.”
Instead, we need the healing and cleansing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We need his divine love in our hearts. We need to see our brothers and sisters as he and Heavenly Father see them.
“Only the Savior’s Atonement can cleanse us of our sins and close that gap or breach.
We want to be encircled in the arms of our Heavenly Father’s love and guidance, and so we put His will first and with a broken heart plead that Christ will pour streams of cleansing water into our pitcher. At first it may come drop by drop, but as we seek, ask, and obey, it will come abundantly. This living water will begin to fill us, and brimming with His love, we can tip the pitcher of our soul and share its contents with others who thirst for healing, hope, and belonging. As our inner pitcher becomes clean, our earthly relationships begin to heal.”
Isaiah spoke of those who faithfully live the law of the fast and thus become for their own posterity a repairer of the breach. They are the ones who, Isaiah promises, will “build the old waste places.” In a similar way, the Savior repaired the breach, or distance, between us and Heavenly Father. He, through His great atoning sacrifice, opens the way for us to partake of God’s loving power, and then we are enabled to repair the “waste places” in our personal lives. Healing emotional distance between each other will require our acceptance of God’s love, coupled with a sacrifice of our natural selfish and fearful tendencies.
Sister Marriot told a moving story of an experience with a relative who embarrassed and hurt her. She prayed for a portion to God’s love for that relative, and was able to heal that breach and reconcile with her. I too have experienced the healing power of pure divine love. When I decided to join the church and especially when I chose to serve a mission, I faced a significant amount of family opposition especially from my father. While I served, he would routinely send me angry and caustic emails questions my decision to serve and heavily criticizing me. It was truly painful to receive those messages of scorn. Many times, I had to get on my knees and pray for healing and reconciliation. I had to ask God to help me to respond with love and tender kindness. I was amazed at how immediately and how poignantly that prayer was fulfilled. I was able to continually convey love even in the valley of calumny and invective. That was not of my own strength, but of a strength greater than my own. Little by little, I did see the breech healed. We were reconciled after my mission and our relationship improved in noticeable ways. He never fully accepted my faith or decision to serve, but he was nevertheless filed with love. I am so grateful for the mercy of Christ and for the power of the Holy Ghost in helping me to heal one of the most significant breaches in my life.