There was a time in the life of Christ that perhaps even he felt distant from heaven’s embrace. In a moment of great pain and anguish, “Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46 KJV)
A passionate advocate of Christianity, Jeffery Holland explains, “That the supreme sacrifice of his son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of his spirit, the support of his personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind — us, all of us — would feel when we did commit such sins.”
If you feel distance from heaven’s embrace, it may not be a result of sin in your life. Your feelings may simply be a test calculated to mold your character into a masterpiece of love and compassion for others. It may be an opportunity for you to prove to God that you are willing to follow him regardless of whether or not you feel close to him at the moment. It may be a trial of faith.
On the other hand, it would be wise to ask yourself, “Is there anything in my personal life that I need to adjust. Do I harbor any unkind feeling toward someone. What can I do to feel closer to God?” As you ask yourself these questions, pay close attention to the thoughts and impressions that come into your mind. Act upon the feelings that you receive. If you feel impressed to abandon a habit, if you feel impressed to extend love and forgiveness, if you feel impressed to do something good, do it.
Your family can be an excellent source of comfort during the repentance process. Tell your loved ones about your struggles and weaknesses. They will be there to help you avoid situations that will weaken you. Rely on your family during repentance. If one of your family members is struggling, do not judge them, simply express your love for them and offer any assistance that you can.
A wise religious leader, Dieter Uchtdorf explains, “Believing in God is commendable, but most people want to do more than listen to inspirational sermons or dream of their mansions above. They want to put their faith into practice. They want to roll up their sleeves and become engaged in this great cause.” When you are anxiously engaged in doing something good, serving others and helping people in need, you will always feel closer to heaven’s embrace. Invite your family to consider ways that each of you can be of greater service in your community. You will never feel bad after doing something good.
Feeling the peace, joy and happiness that come from living a pure life is worth the effort. There will be times of trial and times when you feel lonely and consider seeking happiness in worldly pursuits. When you doubt, remember the words of Dieter Uchtdorf as he encourages those who may be struggling with their course in life. “Please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.” Don’t give up. Keep moving forward and you will feel the peace and comfort that comes to those who keep their faith. Be an anchor for your loved ones. Offer your encouragement when you see failure. Praise the efforts of your family members as they continue to press forward.
Feeling heaven’s embrace will not be experienced while seeking the embrace of worldly pleasures. Take a close look at your life and determine whether or not there are things that you should change. Look for opportunities to do good and to strengthen others. When you feel like you cannot go on, try just a little longer. Don’t give up when times are tough. As you implement these small and simple things in your life you will feel closer to heaven’s embrace.