In October 2014, Elder David A. Bednar of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told a story about his boys when they were young. The point of his talk and story was the way the younger son wanted to share with everyone he cared about the very thing that had helped him feel better. Elder Bednar was explaining why Latter-day Saints can be so upfront and eager to share our faith.
I was impressed with another aspect of his story: how much it totally follows the process of repentance.
- The younger brother gets hurt. This is mortality. We make mistakes. We make bad choices. We hurt others, and others hurt us. Sometimes, we hurt ourselves. Anytime we step outside the bounds of God’s plan for us, we are inflicting hurt. It is a normal way to learn and to grow.
- The older brother takes his younger brother to a place where he can receive the help he needs. True, some of us have siblings who would laugh and keep on playing, but in this instance, the older brother acted just like the Savior. Whether it was compassion because he had felt wounds like this before, brotherly love, or both, he escorted his brother inside so that he could get the help he needed. The Savior, through the promptings of the Holy Spirit and through people around us, will do exactly the same thing. He meets us where we need him.
- The older brother cleanses the wound. And this is the part of repentance that no one wants to talk about – the cleansing process can be very painful, but it is completely necessary. Just as the boy in this story knew the wound could get worse unless all of the dirt and germs were cleaned out, so our spiritual wounds get worse if we don’t have to face the reality that we have chosen wrong, that we are powerless to cleanse the wound on our own, and that we need the Savior to cleanse us as he sees fit.
- The older brother applies a healing ointment. THIS is the part of repentance that we all want to focus on! The relief that comes after the cleansing, when we feel the light of the Savior’s love and forgiveness, when we walk with the Holy Spirit by our side, when we begin to see life and see others through our Heavenly Father’s eyes. This is the feeling that draws me to my knees each morning, begging to be able to be the Father’s hands and feet in someone’s life today. That is the reason I can be ok with someone hating me and what I stand for, and still pray that one day they will have the blessings I enjoy.
Truly repenting is not an easy process, and the cleansing aspect often hurts. I promise that, if you are willing to follow the Savior in faith, the healing ointment of forgiveness outshines any pain or discomfort that you will have to endure.