Sunday, February 22, 2015

Not as Bad as You Think

Repentance, that is always a scary word it seems.  People fear it, others, in place of fear become angry with it.  Some accusingly see it as a religious control tactic, and others believe that if there is a real punishment for sin its through a simple confession or prayer and then God will simply beat us with a few stripes after which we will be saved in the kingdom forever.    I believe however, that when a person develops true faith, faith in Jesus Christ; they begin to see things in a different light.  I believe real sincere faith in a person will bring them to a point where they want to be different, where they want to be like Christ; so repentance then, becomes viewed differently.  It becomes seen not as a scary thing or matter of a checklist and Sunday confession after a party weekend.  It becomes rather an opportunity of choice, a gift, and that is what it became for me.

Thought for the day:  “Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.” – D Todd Christofferson

What is repentance?  The Guide to Scriptures gives us this definition:  “A change of mind and heart that brings a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general. Repentance implies that a person turns away from evil and turns his heart and will to God, submitting to God’s commandments and desires and forsaking sin. True repentance comes from a love for God and a sincere desire to obey his commandments. All accountable persons have sinned and must repent in order to progress toward salvation. Only through the atonement of Jesus Christ can our repentance become effective and accepted by God.”

Why repentance?  We come to earth for the purpose of growing and progressing. This is a lifelong process. During this time that we are here on earth,  we all sin. We all have need to repent. Sometimes we sin because of ignorance, sometimes because of our weaknesses, and sometimes because of willful disobedience. In the Bible we read that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” and that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” Romans 3:23  Ecclesiastes 7:20  1 John 1:8. When we die, we will be returned to the presence of God Alma 40:11.  Thus we need repentance for “no unclean thing can dwell with God”.

I like to think of myself as a “just man”.  I never did harm, not intentionally I only wanted to do good.  Yet in my life there were times that I did sin.  Sometimes it was because of ignorance, sometimes it was due to weakness, and at other times it was pure wilful disobedience.  Even so, the more I developed faith, a testimony of the gospel and true love for Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ, the more I hated my choices, and I just couldn’t live with myself knowing that even though I had a change of heart and no longer made those choices or lived that lifestyle; still they lurked in the corners of my mind and around every bend I turned.  They brought upon my soul great grief and I was terribly troubled as I ministered to family members and friends sharing with them the Gospel.

I remember exactly when it began,  that I knew my good intentions were not enough; it was the day my husband was baptized.  As I watched him being immersed in the water, I found myself wishing it was me, wishing I could be new, that I could be rid of all that followed me, wishing that I could be the daughter of God I so desired and strived to be. I was active in the church, one hundred percent or more.  I lived the lifestyle of a Latter-day saint and I encouraged and begged my children and family to do the same.  I went so far as to bribe my oldest son, who was not living at home, with gas money.  If he would just please come to the baptism and support my husband whom we all loved, I would give him gas money for his car.  The baptism proved to be a very spiritual time for all of us but none more than my son I think, for when he came to me after the service to get his money,  he was crying.  I asked him what was wrong but he couldn’t talk, he just gave me a hug took his money and left.  Later on that evening he came to talk to me, about church.  He said he felt something that he’d never felt before and it burned within him, he believed, and he wanted to come back and start attending again and making things right.  I was never more happy than at that moment, and right away put him on the path back to his roots.  This is what made me think.  I had testified to my husband and shared with him the gospel and he was baptised.  I had testified time and again to my son and encouraged him to return and he was doing so; so how could I be a part of this newly forming eternal family if I wasn’t living the things I was teaching them.  I had to make myself right.  So began my journey of earnestly praying, with every fiber of my being.  With the deepest Godly sorrow falling upon my knees and seeking the guidance of Heavenly Father I repented to him of the things that made me feel bad, of the things that I carried.  Never before had I sought Heavenly Father in this manner.  Not because I didn’t want to but until I had a true change of heart that came with strengthened faith and Godly sorrow, I didn’t understand how to repent.  I discovered that it was much more than just confessing of my sins, it was about my broken heart…..

Through this time and these prayers the Lord, with such love, ministered to me and taught me the meaning of true repentance.  He taught me all that I needed to do and answered all my questions by literally answering my prayers even sometimes while I was still on my knees crying.  It was not a great cloud burst and visions of grandeur, it wasn’t as many preachers shout about at the pulpits of hell fire and brimstone.  But is was a quiet tender burning in my heart that was sent with messages to my mind and I knew, I KNEW, that He was real, the Savior was real,  and he was speaking to me and guiding me.  That He loved me and would hold me up while I did all that I could to live as he wanted me to live. I did not have to be afraid……

In our journey’s here upon the earth, no one is perfect, so Christ in his infinite mercy suffered and died that we may be offered the choice of repentance.  Though it is a gift, it is not an easy choice.  But when the desire hits you, and that great feeling of truth coupled with an overwhelming need for change comes, and you act upon it with the help and love of the Savior; it becomes a necessary road and a life changing experience.  There is no need to fear, there is no need to discredit the need for repentance, there is no need to turn away.  Rather let us receive it with faith and great thanksgiving.

Every time we sin, we die a little spiritually.  With each act that we let go on, the light falls away, little by little, until finally there is nothing but heaviness and darkness. What a gift Christ has given us through his Atoning sacrifice that we may not die fully but yet live.

Repentance is a different experience for each individual, and only God knows the hearts and minds of “men”.  But we should not be afraid or procrastinate.  Some, like I had; may have serious transgressions to work through, but all of us, everyone, are in need of a constant life long procession that includes making ourselves right before God through the Atoning Sacrifice of the Savior.  Daily.

There is much to understand in the repentance process and I hope as I take this time in sharing with you my personal journey it will touch your heart.  Please join me for my next blog that will continue with the principle and story of my road through repentance, for what you’ve read, was just the beginning, yet even now, I am a new woman…..

With Love