Every night when I tuck my sweet daughter into bed and get her “snuggly,” we go through our nightly ritual. It is strictly ours. Sure, mom might cut in on the action to an extent, but there is some unspoken understanding that what we share is ours. We butterfly kiss, Eskimo kiss, fish kiss, giraffe kiss, hair kiss, chin kiss, finger kiss, fives, stones, blow-it-up, head bonk, followed by a gigantic bear hug when I tell her how much I love her, and what a sweet and good girl she is. After we break from our embrace, I place my hands on her chest above her heart and tell her that her heart is pure gold. Sometimes, I ask her, “What’s in here?” And she doesn’t miss a beat in her response, “pure gold.” This answer is always followed by an ear to ear grin.
I believe this is true for each of us. When Adam was given the breath of life, his heart started, and the Lord called it good. As sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, we may rest assured, that our hearts are also inherently good. The scriptures point out, that our hearts may wax hard, however (see Moses 6:27); they may be blinded (see D&C 58:15); and, of course, we continually run the risk that our hearts may become lifted up in pride (see Jacob 2:13). It’s no small wonder that one of Satan’s favorite tactics is a continual assault devised to convince us our hearts are no good. We fall prey to that vicious attack far too often. Fortunately, however, we can receive a new heart that the Lord will put within us, taking away our stony heart and replacing it with a heart of flesh (see Ezekiel 36:26). Even with this assurance, it is easy to listen to the whisperings of Lucifer, who gains so much leverage over us if we begin to doubt our absolute and inherent worth.
We have all heard of someone or a team “losing heart.” They’ve lost courage, resolution, and fortitude. Indeed, the heart is a direct route to the core of our beings. It makes sense, then, for so much emphasis to be placed on this vital by both the forces of good and the forces of darkness.
For me, there was a time I was totally convinced my heart was no good. I was convinced that in order to perhaps, possibly, maybe, qualify for a new heart, I would have to first be perfect. I would have to do everything right, and do it all for the right reasons—on my own. In my mind, I had to earn the Savior’s love. Unfortunately at times, I still feel this way, and, I would bet, most of us do. Now when I feel this way however, I can usually detect the origin of that message.
The real messages that the Savior would have us remember is that He has already “purchased us (see 1 Cor. 7:23) with His atoning blood (see Acts 20:28) in the great and marvelous Atonement” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Special Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, April 2001). He would have us know that He is on our team. We are accepted and loved by Him where we are at and the way we are. From that point, we can truly begin to progress and grow towards Him, as He lovingly guides us and molds us into what He would have us be. To do this, to accomplish this, we have to give Him our will, also known as our heart.
The Lord wants our hearts. This is one of the central points made by John Eldredge in his book Wild at Heart. We were given agency, the choice to determine where we would place our hearts. If the Lord wanted blind obedience, He would not have given us agency.
To each of you, I would say the same thing I say to my sweet daughter, you have a heart of pure gold. You have an absolute and inherent worth that can be a great source of strength and peace. Mistakes come and go, but the price of your heart has already been paid through the great and infinite Atonement—infinite Atonement in that it covers everything, even those things you tell yourself it cannot possibly cover. To deny its power at this point would be such a tragic waste. Choose this day, this moment, to begin giving your heart to the Lord. This is a decision we all must make again and again on a daily, perhaps even hourly basis, but it is a choice that becomes easier and easier with practice. Remember the Lord loves all of us, regardless of whatever bilge the Adversary has pushed upon us, regardless of where we are at, and regardless of what we have or have not done. The Lord does not make mistakes. He made you. He made your heart, and it is pure gold.