Posted by: Emily Schmutz Garcia | January 2, 2018

A Talk on Repentance

When I was a mighty senior in high school, my mom was my English teacher, Shakespeare and British Literature to be exact. The year before my mom had come to me and said she wanted to teach a Shakespeare class and asked if I could get all my friends to sign up for Shakespeare. I was a drama geek. It was the best class ever and totally ruined college English classes for me.

I definitely suffered from “Coach’s daughter syndrome.” I felt above school rules – my mom was the teacher, obviously I was not to be subjected to the same attendance suggestions as the other poor students.

One particular day, my mom had a doctor’s appointment and wasn’t going to be in class. She told me she wanted me to go to class to help the substitute and make sure everything went smoothly.

Instead of obeying my mother, I choose to ditch her class and go to breakfast with a couple of friends. Once we returned to school, I asked a classmate what the sub had been like and how class had gone.

Later, when I went home for lunch, my mom asked me how her class had gone. Thanks to my friend, I told her exactly how the sub was. When my mom tells this story, she prefaces it with the saying that there is a God for Mothers. After I finished telling my mom about her class, my mom asked where I was at 9:30 that morning.

She then told me how she had gone to breakfast with her friend and at 9:30, Lisa turned to her and said, “Isn’t that Emily, Jana and Tim?” We had driven past her breakfast stop on our way back to school.

My first mistake was not obeying my mother. My next mistake was trying to cover up the mistake of disobeying my mother. Elder Renlund said in October 2016 General Conference,

“Minimizing our mistakes, even if no immediate consequences are apparent, removes the motivation to change. This thinking prevents us from seeing that our mistakes and sins have eternal consequences.”

I had minimized my sin of disobeying my mother and lying to her. Sometimes we recognize our mistakes and make course corrections quickly. Other times it takes us a bit longer or even some correction from loved ones. It took me a few years to learn some of the basics of repentance. In fact it was on my mission, as I was trying to teach others about repentance when I started to learn more about the process.

For people who had never heard about repentance, I told them about the ABCs of repentance.  I’d like to share the ABCs of repentance now especially with the Primary kids as a good way to remember the steps of repentance.

A Acknowledge that you’ve done something wrong. How much easier it would have been if I had told my mom, “I don’t know how your class was because I choose to go out to breakfast instead of going to your class.” Life is easier when we acknowledge our mistakes right away. I also should have gone to her class.

B Be Sorry. In the Bible, in Psalms 38, David talks about being sorry. In verse 18 he says, “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.”

C Correct it. If you broke someone’s window, you need to pay to have it fixed. If you knocked over your brother’s block tower, tell him you are sorry and help him rebuild it. Pray to Heavenly Father for forgiveness.

D Don’t do it again. Another way to say that is to forsake your sin or mistake. When we forsake something, we stop doing it.

In D&C 58 verses 42 & 43 we read,

“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

“By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins – behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”

So, with the ABCs we have a basic process of repentance – A, acknowledge our sins, B, Be sorry, C, Correct it and pray for forgiveness and D, don’t do it again.

So that is how we repent, but what about why we repent?

Elder D. Todd Christofferson explained in an October 2011 General Conference talk,

“Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life…only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance…points us to freedom, confidence, and peace.”

President Stephen Owen, the Young Men General President, said in a 2017 General Conference talk,

“My message to all…..is that repentance is always positive. When we speak of repentance, we aren’t just talking about self-improvement efforts. True repentance is more than that – it is inspired by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His power to forgive our sins. The joy of repentance is more than the joy of living a decent life. It’s the joy of forgiveness, of being clean again, and drawing closer to God. Once you’ve experienced that joy, no lesser substitute will do.”

Like Lehi said, “Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy.”

We repent so we can have joy – the joy of forgiveness. That can sometimes be a hard concept to remember or focus on. When my mother caught me in my lying and disobedience, I wasn’t penitent, sorry or contrite. My heart had started to harden. Sin has a tendency to harden our hearts. Repentance, forgiveness and mercy are helpful cures for hardened hearts.

President Owen also said in his talk,

“True repentance inspires us to make our obedience a commitment – a covenant, beginning with baptism and renewed each week at the Lord’s Supper, the sacrament. There we receive the promise that we can ‘always have his Spirit to be with [us],’ with all of the joy and peace that come from His constant companionship. This is the fruit of repentance, and this is what makes repentance joyful!”

Even with all of these reminders of how and why we repent, I still make mistakes. And I often forget the importance of repentance. Something that helps me remember is my oldest son. He will come up to me after I’ve lost my temper and will quietly give me a kiss on my cheek. The reminder of his love despite my flaws, helps remind me that I need to repent and also why. His kiss is a bit of a “coming back to myself” moment.

President Owen mentioned moments like this in his talk. He said,

“There’s something poignant about that pivotal moment when the prodigal son ‘came to himself.’ Sitting in a pigsty, wishing he could ‘have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat,’ he finally realized that he had wasted not only his father’s inheritance but also his own life. With faith that his father might accept him back – if not as a son then at least as a servant – he determined to put his rebellious past behind him and go home.”

It’s not easy to “come back to oneself.” There are times when I’m so lost in frustration I can’t see any way out. But Heavenly Father is always there for us. I’m so grateful for my sweet son and for his kisses that help me out of those lost states. Admittedly, there is still work to do after “coming to oneself.” For me, recognizing that whatever it is isn’t that big of a deal and taking some deep breaths, along with forgiving my children and asking for their forgiveness is usually part of the process.

President Owen continued,

“I’ve often wondered about the son’s long walk home. Were there times when he hesitated and wondered, ‘how will I be received by my father?’ Perhaps he even took a step back toward the swine. Imagine how the story would be different if he had given up. But faith kept him moving, and faith kept his father watching and waiting patiently, until finally:

“‘When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion on him, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

‘And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

‘But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:…

‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’”

Coming alive again after being dead. Sounds like it could be a good experience. I hear it is joyful. So let’s go home, and everyone repent at 5pm and by 5:05 we should all be translated…right? After all, that’s the end of the story, yes? Not quite. Amazingly enough, my son has had to kiss me more than once. I’ve made more than one mistake. Repentance is something we need to do on a continual basis.

In regards to a continual need for repentance, President Owen said,

“It is not enough just to gain a testimony; you have to maintain it and strengthen it. As every missionary knows, if you stop pedaling a bicycle, it will fall, and if you stop feeding your testimony, it will weaken. This same principle applies to repentance – it is a lifelong pursuit, not a once in a lifetime experience.”

President Owen continued to say,

“We are all prodigals. We all have to ‘come to ourselves’-usually more than once-and choose the path that leads back home. It’s a choice we make daily, throughout our lives. We often associate repentance with grievous sins that require ‘a mighty change.’ But repentance is for everyone – those who are wandering in ‘forbidden paths and [are] lost’ as well as those who ‘have gotten into [the] strait and narrow path’ and now need to ‘press forward.’ Repentance both puts us on the right path and keeps us on the right path. It is for those who are just beginning to believe, those who have believed all along, and those who need to begin again to believe.”

I think I find myself fitting into all three of those categories. And now we face a new year. As we start to focus on resolutions and personal change, let’s make repentance, the Lord’s plan for personal change, a permanent and positive part of our lives all year.

I feel like repentance is the ultimate resolution fix. How many of us have made resolutions and failed? I know I have. Repentance fixes that. When we mess up, which we all will at some point, we can repent and start new.

Making repentance a daily/weekly pursuit will be one of my resolutions. And if I can remember to repent right away, rather than trying to find out what the substitute was like in the class I skipped, remember the ABCs to acknowledge my mistakes, be sorry for them, correct them and pray for forgiveness and don’t do them again, then I will have joy, like the Prodigal son returning home. May we all have joy in this New Year is my hope and prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who makes it all possible, amen.

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