Recognizing repentance as a divine gift of hope and healing can transform the way we view our mistakes.
One Tuesday evening as I sat in the back row of an institute class, I read a sentence from Elder D. Todd Christofferson that changed my life: “Real repentance, real change may require repeated attempts, but there is something refining and holy in such striving.”
As a core doctrine, repentance is taught often, but many of us still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and failure when we can’t fix our mistakes on the first try. In his October 2011 general conference talk, “The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Elder Christofferson reminds us that in addition to praying for forgiveness, perhaps we should pray for time to diligently work through our struggles. “Surely,” he says, “the Lord smiles upon one who desires to come to judgment worthily, who resolutely labors day by day to replace weakness with strength.”
Elder Christofferson explains that repentance is a process of continual striving and not a one-time occurrence. Thinking of it this way can help turn despair into hope, and mistakes into learning experiences.
My mission president once pointed out that the word order in Alma 7:15 teaches us that we can feel God’s love while we are striving to repent. Alma implores us to “come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which doth easily beset you…and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins.” The direction to first come, and then to lay aside every sin is intentional. We do not need to approach God having rid ourselves of all imperfections beforehand. We need only to “come and fear not” to access the atoning power of Jesus Christ. He can make our strivings holy and our souls pure.
Read more from Elder Christofferson’s talk “The Divine Gift of Repentance.”
Source: General Conference
—Emma Valentine, Latter-day Saint Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY FABRIZIO CONTE
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Read more on repentance from President Boyd K. Packer’s talk “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness.”