The first step toward, and the foundation of your awakening is something you already understand completely: the decision to always welcome the truth and to tell the truth.
Withhold honesty anywhere and the switch cannot occur. Without perfect honesty, awakening is impossible. Without awakening, lasting happiness is impossible.
There are many paths to salvation. Present moment awareness is one. Shifting to a thought system of perfect love is another. Atoning for your sins is yet another.
Present moment awareness, without perfect honesty and acceptance of truth, is impossible. Cling to dishonesty anywhere and you are making the past real by trying to maintain deception. Fail to come clean and you are making your fear about the future real. Without perfect honesty, you cannot go all the way to present moment awareness and true awakening cannot have happened.
Now let’s look at perfect love as a portal into the awakened state. Love requires openness, honesty, and unconditional acceptance. What we are referring to, when we talk about the thought system of perfect love, is a total commitment to truth and honesty between two people. Do this always and you have perfect love always. Fail to tell the truth, or fail to accept the other unconditionally, and you fail to love. This doesn’t mean you have to remain stuck with a person who you don’t want to be with; just that you can love him or her perfectly even as you are free to do whatever you want.
As for atonement; what is atonement other than apology and the correction of error? What error can there be other than an attempt to make illusion real and truth unreal? True apology is the correction of error, and the fundamental error can only ever be an unwillingness to tell the truth and accept reality. The error is always dishonesty, on some level, and the correction is always telling the truth and wanting only truth.
When we realize that telling the truth is awakening, awakening becomes inevitable. We continue tomorrow and each day after that.