When I started looking through my books and talk on CD to see which one I should review next, I saw “Sleeping Through Gethsemane” by Diana Hoelscher. I couldn’t believe that in all the posts I have never mentioned her or any of her CDs. She is my favorite speaker. She is humorous and interesting and has such a passion for the gospel. She speaks to an audience like I wish I could.
The first time I ever heard of her was on a flyer for a multi-stake Relief Society fireside featuring her as the guest speaker. I didn’t know who she was, but I went to the fireside.
I think that the talk she gave was at least mostly the same as this CD. I actually didn’t find the CD until years later and was so excited that I bought it immediately. I feel like this CD is so amazing that there is NO way for me to describe this well enough for you to feel how I feel when I hear it.
Her talk was so inspiring and made me think for weeks about the atonement and about my Savior. I had heard the things she spoke of all my life, but still it touched me. Sometimes you need to hear things at just the right time for them to click. It was years ago at a time when I was feeling kind of stressed and depressed about some things. I especially remember her saying that the word “succor” comes from the Latin succurrere, “to run to the aid of”. (Is that true, Mom?) The Lord suffered all of our sins, physical pains, mental anguish, and everything we could possible suffer while He was in Gethsemane so that he could “run to us” and help ease our pain. I could just imagine Jesus as soon as He knew something was wrong with me, running to me, being there whether I knew it or not, trying to comfort me and guide me.
Another thing I remember hearing her say at the fireside that is also on the CD is about the sacrament. Have any of you ever seen someone be baptized who had been living a life very contrary to the gospel, but changed and came unto Christ? Have any of you who was baptized at 8 years old or another young age and seen this and thought, “Well, that’s not fair! I wish I could be baptized again”? Once we are baptized, no matter how converted we are and how hard we try, we mess up. And then we mess up again. And then again. Even if we don’t do anything ”big”, those sins pile up and keep up from being clean unless we repent.
Diana talks about how once she was in the MTC she felt an enormous need to repent of everything she’d ever done wrong and to be clean. She took a very long time praying and remembering all the things she did wrong. None of them made her unworthy to serve a mission, but without repentance (like all of us), she could not be clean. After repenting, she anxiously awaited taking the sacrament—our re-baptism. She said that for that moment, she felt “pure” and she became addicted to that feeling of being pure and loved to repent each week so that she could have that same feeling again. Do you know what she is talking about? How wonderful it feels when we do repent and take the sacrament and feel that our Heavenly Father really has forgiven us and we really do get to start all over, just like if we were just baptized. As Diana says, there is no difference between baptism and the sacrament as far as our ability to become clean. I just love how she described the feeling she has of craving that feeling of being pure every single week. Since then, I have thought of that often. I desire and need the sacrament because of that same reason.
Diana describes a thought she had when she was a teenager listening to a lady share her testimony at church. “Oh please be quiet. You are so buggin’ me. What is the big deal anyway? We are giving this guy (Jesus) too much credit.” But as you can see, Diana has changed her thinking. She wasn’t a bad kid. As a matter of fact, as she describes herself, she was good, but didn’t have a testimony of Jesus. I think that many of us, even those of us who were born in the church and learned about the atonement all of our lives, do not understand how the atonement really is the absolute most important part of the plan of happiness and have a strong testimony of it. At different times in our lives, many of us “sleep through Gethsemane”.
Diana read this quote from Stephen E. Robinson’s book "Believing Christ". (Because of this quote, I put the book on my wish list and got it from my family. I loved so much of this book-even though I didn’t love the repetition. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to!)
“All the negative aspects of human existence brought about by the Fall, Jesus Christ absorbed into himself. He experienced vicariously in Gethsemane all the private griefs and heartaches, all the physical pains and handicaps, all the emotional burdens and depressions of the human family. He Knows the loneliness of those who don't fit in, or who aren't handsome or pretty. He knows what it's like to choose up teams and be the last one chosen. He knows the anguish of parents whose children go wrong. He knows these things personally and intimately because he lived them in the Gethsemane experience. Having personally lived a perfect life, he then chose to experience our imperfect lives. In that infinite Gethsemane experience in the meridian of time, the center of eternity, he lived a billion billion lifetimes of sin, pain, disease, and sorrow.
God has no magic wand with which to simply wave bad things into non-existence. The sins that he remits, he remits by making them his own and suffering them. The pain and heartache that he relieves, he relieves by suffering them himself. These things can be transferred, but they cannot be simply wished or waved away. They must be suffered. Thus we owe him not only for our spiritual cleansing from sin, but for our physical, mental, and emotional healing as well, for he has borne these infirmities for us also. All that the Fall put wrong, the Savior in his atonement puts right. It is all part of his infinite sacrifice-of his infinite gift.”
I have thought many times about that "magic wand" that doesn't exist as I go to convert baptims and it reminds me of my own baptism and re-baptisms. It is important for us to remember that this suffering already happened in Gethsemane. I have heard some people say that they don’t want to repent because they don’t want Jesus to suffer because of them. But He has already suffered so if we do not repent, it only makes him sad and He suffered for nothing because we must repent for it to mean anything.
I wish I could give everyone a copy of this CD. There is no way to cover everything Diana says and in the way she does. She has such a powerful testimony and is so funny and down to earth. I’ve heard a lot of people say that she is a great youth speaker (she speaks at EFY), but I think her messages are great for people of any age. I have all of her CDs minus one (which I’m in search of) and I LOVE them all. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, GO!!! (And invite me.)