” I love it when people tell me to repent! ” said no one ever. Who likes to be told they are doing things wrong and to to change their ways? Um. Not many.
I’m teaching the Young Women’s Lesson, “How can repentance help me everyday”. I never thought teaching about repentance would be my first choice, but it totally was!..why?? Because I’m discovery repentance really is such a awesome gift to help us live happy and free lives!! Here are my thoughts on the matter:
Dispute the initial unsettling sting of a call to “repent”, I am learning the beauty of repentance is in the delivery and intent of the message. Keeping in mind that it is a loving Savior asking us to repent and knowing the intent is purely out of love and His total desire for us to come to experience even more ridiculously awesome levels of happiness and understanding, we can seriously accept this invitation with total excitement! Yay! We are given the permission, tools, motivation and power, to change and do better because of it!
I used to tune out talks and lessons on repentance
Once I heard repentance mentioned anywhere I unconsciously excluded myself and assumed it was mainly directed towards serious sins. I viewed it as a rigorous process set aside for those with transgressions requiring serious attention. And while repentance is a powerful thing that can encompass and heal us from even the deepest of sins, I am learning it actually applies more intimately with my personal moment to moment life than I could imagine!
How repentance applies to all.
See, none of us are perfect, right? We all continually fall short of the glory of God. I fumble and grumble and do and think things that make it so it causes inner turbulence and interference between me and the sweet spirit that gives me feelings of peace, happiness and true security. Thankfully, I have repentance to save the day (and the every day moment). I’m seeing that repentance is not continually feeling guilty and weigh down by my less than perfect efforts but it is having a penitent heart that is eager to improve and willing to change. A heart that hopes for a better self and relationship with Deity. It a hopeful truth that means I can turn around my day and my attitude for the better, into something great, into something that will serve God, my true spiritual self and those around me. It is continually realigning my will to meet that of Gods because that is where I know I am most free and happy. It is a forever awareness of thoughts, feelings, words and actions and steering them in the direction of the Spirit. Since we are not perfect, human and volatile, it is requisite for us to continually to set our selves back to have that life nourishing source, His Spirit and daily, moment to moment repentance is the key. As Elder Neil L. Anderson puts it, “The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to “re-turn” toward God.”
Many times in my life I didn’t even know I needed to repent.
I didn’t know that I was the one that needed to change to improve my life, instead I usually was just waiting for God to change my circumstances and for Him to just MAKE my life better. But one of the most beautiful things Christ does in our lives is that He helps US change and we are then empowered to change our own personal circumstances.
How are we brought about to change and repentance if we don’t know where and how to start?
It starts with being humble enough to know that there needs a change to be made. But honestly, in my total absentmindedness, sometimes I don’t even know how to be humble enough, but I can tell you, I can certainly be brought there. I’ve seen some of the greatest spiritual changes happen in my life when I had simply exhausted all my own personal efforts of improvement. When everything I ‘tried’ failed to work. When I was tired of seeing the same dead ends and tired of the same sad feeling or feelings of despair. In those moments of utter helplessness and downright humility is when my heart was ready and finally open to accept heaven’s help.
Always in retrospect of moments like this, I am reminded of the scripture, “And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions.” -Mosiah 21:14
A precursor to many significant inner changes in my life has been deep and ugly sobs of utter defeat, and total sincere longing for the help of God. Those were moments where my heart was at last moldable enough that heaven could perform it’s magic! To begin a wonderful gradual process of repentance, or change or improvement of turning the wretched, prideful, hard, stale parts of my heart and healing the hurt and pointing it more towards God and cause my entire heart to sing sweet happy tunes of relief and JOY!!
Repentance, It is a process.
It can be a long and gradual process of letting go, becoming moldable, teachable and flexible. It is relinquishing our pride, the hard parts in us that prevent change, stripping away false preconceived notions about ourselves, others and God. It is abandoning behaviors that do not serve our spiritual progression. It is discarding doubt for trust, casting away fear and clinging on to faith. The more falsehoods we shake off, the more room for the Spirit to grow and be nourished and more power for it to transform us. It is all conditional on our desire and faith for it to do the work it was intended to do within us. To let the power of the Atonement, conditional on our repentance, change us deeply and truly and to become the glorious being we were always meant to be.
Love this quote by D. Todd Christofferson’s from his talk “The Divine Gift of Repentance”
Here is the download (4 on a page) to use as a handout in class:[Download not found]
EXCITING UPDATE! (3/22/14) Here is an object lesson recently ‘came to me’ with for this lesson. ENJOY!