Gratitude, Healing, and Repentance

As Thanksgiving came and went, I ran across the normal increase of internet postings about gratitude, and I heard again that grateful people are happier, more content, etc. This time, however, I felt deeply impressed to begin actually recording my grateful thoughts.

Since I am already emailing a friend daily, I decided to write out 5 things every day in that email. I felt a little awkward, largely because I thought that I was already a reasonably grateful person. However, in the two or three short weeks that I have been writing out a short daily list, I am seeing changes in myself:

  • I am more aware of the wonderful things that surround me every day.
  • I am more appreciative of the beauty of each person that I encounter.
  • I am more eager and happy to serve where I can and less likely to feel even a tiny piece of resentment when asked for help.
  • I am finding more room for compassion and kindness in my heart.

With that compassion comes a desire to undo every hurt that I may have caused anyone in this life. I can’t, and I have to rely on the Savior’s atonement to make right for me what I cannot make right myself.

I would like to start now by openly asking forgiveness for

  • The times I struck out not so much with the intent to hurt others, but because I didn’t know any other way to communicate or ease my pain and frustration: This was more common in the early period of my divorce journey, but I recognize that it continued for years and that I still have the potential to do it again. I am doing all that I can to make sure I never stumble and strike out again, but I hurt for all the times I did and wish to make it right.
  • When I wanted to help but messed up because my imperfections and weaknesses got in the way: As I have walked the path to recovery from codependency, I look back from time to time and see just how messed up my thinking was. I understand where it came from, but it doesn’t change the fact that my skewed vision caused me to “help” in ways that weren’t always so helpful. I suspect I will still make these kinds of mistakes because I am still struggling to overcome imperfections and weaknesses. I would love to make those times right, as well.
  • When I wanted to help, but couldn’t: There have been and probably always will be these times because I am subject to the same human limitations as everyone else. To anyone that wanted my help and I just couldn’t give it, I also wish to make things right.

This would be a crushing burden to bear if it wasn’t for the knowledge I have of the Savior’s atonement. It wasn’t just about cleansing the sins of those who repent and come to him. It’s not just about becoming better today than I was yesterday. It’s about putting things right. It’s about his power to use even my mistakes and sins for more than my growth — he can use them for the growth of those that I’ve hurt, as well.

Of course, this doesn’t give me any license to go out and deliberately hurt others, but it gives me hope. In the Savior’s time and in the Savior’s way, all will be made right for each of us.

How does the gospel help you to live with regret? What comfort do you receive as you think about the Savior’s atonement? Start a conversation in the comments!