Uneven rocky stairs leading up the side of a mountain.

Our Guiding Mistakes

Because of the Savior, we have infinite opportunities to learn from our mistakes.

We all make mistakes. But this fact is not a mistake in the plan of salvation for humankind. In his talk “Until Seventy Times Seven,” Elder Lynn G. Robbins explains that “repentance isn’t [God’s] backup plan in the event we might fail. Repentance is His plan, knowing that we will.” Because repentance is God’s plan, we can forgive ourselves and allow our mistakes to guide us as we progress.

Full frame shot of pebbles with a quote by Lynn G. Robbins that says, "Each mistake we make becomes a lesson in wisdom, turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones."

Photo by Nsu Mon

We often think of forgiveness as a two-way street: we forgive others and others forgive us. Giving and receiving forgiveness is important, but we often forget to extend that same forgiveness to ourselves. Elder Robbins says that our mistakes “help us develop and hone scores of Christlike attributes that cannot be refined except through opposition.” Learning from our mistakes and forgiving ourselves are important aspects of how the Savior’s Atonement works for us and with us. 

The apostle Peter once asked Christ how many times Peter should forgive someone who has wronged him. Christ replied, “Until seventy times seven” (see Matthew 18:2122). Elder Robbins explains that this was a “metaphor of [Christ’s] infinite Atonement, His boundless love, and His limitless grace.” Christ does not limit his forgiveness for us, so we should not limit our forgiveness for ourselves. As we remember to give ourselves a second chance to make the right decision, we can reflect on our past mistakes and choose a better route the next time.

Continually making mistakes can be discouraging, but Elder Robbins urges us to “continue getting up each time we fall, with a desire to keep growing and progressing despite our weaknesses.” God intended for us to make mistakes. As we forgive ourselves and learn from our mistakes, our mistakes will guide us back to our Heavenly Parents.

Discover more about how we can let our mistakes guide us in Elder Lynn G. Robbins’s general conference talk “Until Seventy Times Seven.” 

Source:  General Conference

 —Sam Niven, Latter-day Saint Insights 


Find more insights 

Read Steven M. Sandberg’s BYU Devotional speech “The Light of Forgiveness” to learn more about the blessings of forgiving even when it’s difficult. 

Read more about how Christ can make us whole in “No Scars Remain,” a Latter-day Saint Insights article by Natasha Andersen.

Learn how to find peace through repentance in Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s April 2018 general conference talk “The Ministry of Reconciliation.”

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