MY STEPS TO ACCESSING THE ATONEMENT DURING TRIALS
1. Feel and know in your heart that, while we don’t know the meaning of all things, nevertheless we know that God loves His children. [See 1Nephi 11:17, also John 3:16]
2. Recognize that the enabling power of The Atonement is meant to change us, and is for our constant use. This means we do not try to “tough it out” for as long as possible and then fall back on grace when we think we need it. Instead, consecrate your trial from its very beginning to the Lord and open your heart to God’s plan for you throughout it.
3. Tell yourself, and Heavenly Father in prayer, that you are clay in His hands and will allow yourself to be formed by this trial in the way He wants.
4. Try to avoid the natural man’s way of coping with trials, e.g. aggression, withdrawal, denial, etc.
5. When suffering, envision the Savior sharing this load with you. (He has and will continue to do so.)
6. As you wonder how you will get through this trial, try saying things in the plural. For example, “we will endure.” This combats loneliness and speaks the truth that our Savior is there at our side.
7. Do everything you can to keep the Holy Ghost as a constant companion throughout the trial (ideally this would be all the time, of course). This includes regular prayers, reading the scriptures, fasting, going to the temple, and partaking of the sacrament.
8. When praying, speak to your Heavenly Father as His loving child. Pour out every concern, but always give thanks, too, for the many good things He has given you.
9. Look for comfort and even solutions as you do #7-8. This will get easier and easier the longer you are diligent. It follows that you should act on these promptings, messages, and impressions as they come along.
10. Monitor your progress. See where you've grown and how your relationship with the Godhead has improved.
I'm not going to go ahead and say this is doctrinal, as in "thus saith the Lord," but after years of pondering, researching, and being asked to speak on the Atonement several times, I've distilled my insight into the above list and felt like sharing. (Plus, having it all in one post means I won't lose it and can upload this list from my i-phone when I'm away from home.)