New Domain!

We are excited to tell you that we have a new website! Please continue the conversation at:

http://www.whatdomormonsbelieve.com

Don't forget to update your links!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What Do Mormons Believe? - Repentance

Several months ago, my toddler son found a lot of joy in ripping the internet cable out of the wall. Not just the cable, mind you, but the entire faceplate with the cable still attached. I started having him sit on my lap with his arms forcibly folded right after he did it. He totally hated it, so I knew it was working. After a half-dozen "time outs" (that lasted like 5 seconds each), he stopped pulling the cable out of the wall.

Do I remind him of how he used to pull the cord out of the wall? Do I continue to punish him retroactively for how he was disobedient before he figured it out?

Heavens no. I'm just glad that he is catching on to things and becoming a better, smarter, more obedient boy. Because that is the reason why he was born--to learn these kinds of things.

In fact, that is the reason that all of us were born. Our Heavenly Father sent us down here so that we could learn about how the world works, how relationships are made strong, how our bodies operate, and how to have faith in Him and serve His children. We all make mistakes--sometimes because we don't know any better, and sometimes even if we do. But that is part of the program. Our whole earth experience is involved in this learning process, and Heavenly Father has given us a lot of help to know what is appropriate and what is not.

Mistakes do count against us, though. So God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to take upon Him all of the sins and mistakes, sicknesses and temptations, suffering and injustices of the whole earth so that we can ask Him for help and forgiveness when we mess up. Since Christ already paid for our mistakes, we can be made clean again through Him. It is such an amazing and merciful plan. But we have to do our part. We have to repent.

Repentance has kind of a dour connotation. Like dressing up in sackcloth and ashes, flagellating ourselves (or hitting our faces with boards), hating our mortality and never forgetting how lowly and evil we are. This is how we feel we should react when we've messed up royally, but that isn't repentance.  That's how Satan wants us to feel, so that we never get around to the actual repenting.  Think of my son and the cable faceplate. That is how God sees us. When we do those really stupid things, He corrects us. Sometimes we are thicker than we should be and it takes a long time to realize that what we are doing isn't good. But when we figure it out, what we need to do is:

1) Recognize that we have been wrong. Ask Christ for His atoning power to make it right.
2) Change our actions. Ask Christ for the strength everyday to make the change.
3) Make it right, if we have wronged someone else. Ask Christ how to do this--He suffered for their pains (perhaps inflicted by you) as well as yours.
4) Promise not to do it again and then not do it again. Ask Christ for help all along the way.

It is a simple process, but it can be extremely difficult.  Addictions, habits learned through the years, and even doing things that go against the natural man's tendencies have to be pulled out by the root.  Its hard.  But it is possible, everything is possible with Christ's help.  He's already overcome it, so He knows how to help you do the same.  


It's just a process of changing ourselves to become better. God wants us to be better. He wants us to figure it out. He wants us to be healthy and at peace with our neighbors, ourselves and Him. And He wants us to learn this as quickly as possible. And once we figure it out and change, God doesn't keep reminding us of it. He doesn't say, "well, yeah, you are sober now, but remember how you used to drink and drink until you couldn't even stand up?" He says, "Well done. You've figured that out. I'm proud of you. Now to the next thing."  So we should forgive ourselves too.

Repentance is really one of the most merciful and kind blessings that our Heavenly Father has given to us. He allows us to change. He expects us to become better and to really (eventually) keep the commandment that Christ gave to us to "Be ye therefore perfect." He has got everything in place through His Son's sacrifice to make it possible for us to move on past our mistakes and be forgiven, if we can just be obedient and not fight the "time outs" He gives us.

4 comments:

Hosander said...

That was very thorough. I didn't realize how hard forgiving myself was, I thought I had but one day (in the shower) I realized the full effect of the Atonement and how fully I was forgiven. That is a day I will never forget.

sunlize said...

Great post. I also find forgiving myself the hardest thing to do. I'm great at beating myself up for years after things happened. I also feel like I keep messing again and again and again. But I guess everyone does. I'm just grateful that I can repent when I need to.

christina-defining moments said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

Nils Bergeson said...

Great summary, I thought it was great. I think it shows one thing that many people tend to ignore when considering the idea of repentance. It literally means changing for the better, not necessarily just correcting mistakes. It means gaining new understanding of how we can be better, then living according to that new knowledge.

Keep it up!