Parents sometime find it convenient to speak in another language to keep their conversations private without having to go, you know, somewhere private. Pity then the poor parents who are monolingual. My parents were in this group. Sure, they each had learned a few word or phrases in Italian or Spanish growing up, but nothing useful in any real sense. As a result, when I was very young, my parents would frequently use “op-talk” to speak of things in front of us so that we could not understand them. Op, ubby-dubby, egg-Latin and other such English variants were once popular just as Pig-Latin sometimes is and consist of inserting some short sound immediate preceding the vowel in each syllable of a word as you speak.

Often, as my sister and I were riding around in the back seat of the family car, our parents would carry on a conversation in “op” believing that we were none the wiser to topic at hand. And they were right, but that doesn’t mean that we were not listening.

As with any language, dialect or code, with enough exposure, you begin to recognize repeated sounds and patterns. You just need some kind of key – a recognizable link between the language you know and that being heard. For me and for my sister, that key was ropootbopeer.

As I recall, it was my father who spoke the word. My parents were discussing where to take us for dinner or a snack that night and in the exchange my father said, “ropootbopeer”. That was the key! Rop-oot bop-eer. My sister and I yelled “root beer!” in unison and the code was broken forever.

For almost everyone who has leaned a second language, there comes a turning point when the whole thing starts to make sense; you stop translating each word in your head and actually start thinking and speaking in the new language. When I finally caught the vision of verb conjugation in Spanish, not only did Spanish start making sense to me, but I found that English also became more clear. Rules I never grasped in school were suddenly obvious to me.

The Gospel also has its own language and syntax and until you recognize the key that unlocks the code, it will never truly make sense and cannot become your primary dialect. That key is the Atonement.

Until you come to an understanding of this singular event, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will ever be a foreign tongue. You may be able to repeat the words, perform the actions, but like that year of high school Latin or the semester of French in college, it is just so much clutter in your mental library. Though it may be useful to you at times and you may even gain some deep affection for it, it does not in any way define who you are. However, once your spirit is moved and you step into the bindingly bright dawn of realization of the magnitude of your Savior’s love – once the Holy Ghost clears away the clutter and confusion of this world and you are swept away by the tsunami of emotion that descends on your soul as you see clearly for the first time the Eternal paradox of your own feeble insignificance contrasted against the depth and breadth of your Redeemer’s compassion for you – only then do you begin to think and live as one of His own.

This testimony of the Atonement is the master key that unlocks the language of Christianity. One may go through the motions and may even feel affection for the Jesus and His followers, but he will never be at home there until that testimony is gained.

Without the Atonement, church is just another social club. With the Atonement, it is everything.

And once that testimony is obtained, he is forever changed, emboldened, awestruck; simultaneously humbled by his insignificance and ennobled by his own infinite potential.

This is the present tense of the Gospel; from here you can learn the preterit, future, conditional, and subjunctive cases, come to know the verbs, adverbs, nouns, adjectives, conjunctions, and prepositions. (I know; never end a sentence with a proposition. Sue me.) Jesus loves me. He atoned for my sins and vanquished death for me. He lives. Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father. My Father in Heaven loves me. I am a son of God. I lived before I came to earth and have an Eternal destiny. Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is a true and sacred record. There is a living prophet on the earth today… I need to do my Home Teaching.

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