I have learned that sometimes repentance feels like an ugly, harsh word. It seems to imply harsh condemnation and excessive punishment from a God who takes delight in making sure that we mortals suffer for every wrong thing that we do.
I have felt, lived, and believed this definition before, and it’s a lonely, dark place to be. I’m not sure I fully understood how the Savior feels about us until I began to recover from codpendency and parent without taking every choice my children made personally.
That’s when I realized that all I wanted from my kids was to see them reach their full potential. I knew they were going to need to know how to work hard, how to keep their word, how to be good people, and I had to teach them to do it!
I no longer felt a need to punish for any other reason than to emphasize the problems of deliberately making a wrong choice.
I think the Savior feels the same way — only much more perfectly than I ever have. I believe all that he wants is to help us become what we have the true potential to become: even as he is.
Because the Savior is holy, he can’t pat us on the head, tell us that what we are doing is ok, and send us on our way to be just the same as we were before! He has expectations for us. That’s why we need to repent. When we repent, we not only give up the wrong things that we have been doing, we come unto Christ! The closer we come, the more we become like him and the more we can feel and understand his love.
That’s why there are people who can’t wait to dive into scripture study each day and who eagerly fall to their knees morning and night to have personal conversations with a loving Heavenly Father. These are people who have been willing to give up all of their sins and allow the Savior to teach them and lead them to become better and stronger than they could ever have been on their own. That’s true forgiveness!
Not only are the sins we have repented of NOT held against us anymore, we are given help and strength to be better than that from now on!
There are tons of good talks to read about forgiveness and repentance:
“If Ye Had Known Me,” By Elder David A. Bednar
The Great Plan of Redemption, By Linda S. Reeves
Repentance: A Joyful Choice, By Elder Dale G. Renlund
The Doctrine of Christ, By Brian K. Ashton
Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence, By Elder Jörg Klebingat
Wilt Thou Be Made Whole? By Elder Timothy J. Dyches
The Savior Wants to Forgive, By Elder Craig A. Cardon
“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Neil L. Andersen