A friend recently confided that she just couldn’t forgive herself for her past mistakes. She said she kept dwelling on the fact that she made them and that she should have done things differently. I know I have felt that way at times, but as I was talking to her I was reminded of a scripture story. It was the one where the Pharisees brought the adulteress for Jesus to condemn, so they could stone her. Then Jesus said, he who was without sin should cast the first stone. When all the men had gone, Jesus finally said, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”
To me, that story embodies the true meaning of repentance. Repentance is not about beating yourself up or ‘stoning yourself’ over the mistakes you make. Repentance is about turning away from sin and getting back on the right path. It’s about never giving up. It’s about picking yourself up when you fail and keeping on trying. We do this by taking the sacrament each week and trying to keep our covenants as best we can. We all fall short. And that was part of the plan. It’s how we were supposed to learn and progress. When we don’t allow Christ to free us from the sorrow of sin, we stop our progression and learning.
Someone once said that life is like an airplane ride. Airplanes don’t go straight from point A to point B. They are continually making adjustments to get back to the path that will take them to where they want to go. In a similar manner we also must continually make adjustments to get back in harmony with God’s laws. This is not sad! It is happy! That Christ made it possible for us to do this! Each time we repent we should rejoice, not sorrow. I know that in heaven they are rejoicing over us. It says so in the scriptures that there is joy over each sinner who repenteth.
The Lord doesn’t see us as this bundle of sins and imperfections. He sees yesterday, today, and eternity all at once. He sees us right now, as we will be, beautiful, and clean from the atonement of Christ. I hope we can learn to see ourselves that way, and know the great love the Lord has for each one of us. Because of Christ, we are beautiful…today.