Repentance and Forgiveness

by - November 07, 2016

I have come to find that living the life of a disciple of Christ is no easy task. Often, saints have a strong desire within themselves to do what is right, but due to their nature, often fail at accomplishing the goal of obedience and righteousness. Recently, I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy in the sight of God. Despite doing good things in my life, such as attending my church meetings, participating in religion classes at BYU, and reading my scriptures, I still felt as if I had somehow strayed from the path that God wanted me to be on. Yet, I did not know how to fix it and return back to His path for me.

After pondering somewhat on this predicament and seeking the help of my Heavenly Father, I felt prompted to change the way that I repent in my life. Instead of waiting until I felt guilty for something I had done, I decided that I wanted to focus on repenting every day.
The gospel topics page on, the Book of Mormon, topical guide, citation index, and General Conference talks are some of the best resources we have for learning about the gospel; I used these resources as I began to learn more about repentance. As I studied, I identified three distinct principles for my life that I wish to share: faith as a precursor, as oft as I repent, and repentance as a catalyst.
The first principle I learned was that faith is a precursor to repentance. True to the Faith states that “repentance is an act of faith in Jesus Christ – an acknowledgement of the power of His atonement” (2004, p 133). I realized that just by desiring to repent more, I was beginning to follow God’s will for me in my life. Similar to Alma’s council of “giving place” (Smith, 1981, Alma 32:28) for the seed of faith, I was beginning to make room and “give place” for change, repentance, and forgiveness in my life.

The second principle I learned is found in Moroni 6:8, which states “as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven” (Smith, 1981). One of the obstacles in the way of my daily repentance was that I kept making the same mistakes that I had previously tried to repent from before. Discouraged, I would sometimes simply give up rather than face a disappointed Father in Heaven. However, this scripture changed the way that I viewed repentance. It allowed me to see that Heavenly Father was willing to forgive me every time I came to him with a pure heart and with real intent. Elder Craig A Cardon gave a Conference talk in 2013, stating “In [the Savior’s] mercy, He allows for improvement over time rather than demanding immediate perfection….He forgives again and again” (¶ 15).

The third principle I learned was that repentance acts as a catalyst in our lives. True to the Faith (2004) states that “full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life, including increased strength to overcome your weaknesses” (p. 135). If I began repenting, then by virtue of this principle, it should begin to become easier to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. This makes sense, as I believe that when your heart changes, as it does through being immersed in the atonement, then your life and practices will begin to change as well.

This process of study was deeply enlightening to me. Though it was a slow process, it began allowing light into corners of my heart that had been dusty and gray for quite some time. I learned through my study, cross referencing, and seeking – that while the gentle breeze of scripture reading might be refreshing to my soul, it will never clean out the dust like the strong wind of scripture study will. Just like how deep cleaning is harder than wiping down the counters every once in a while, studying the scriptures can be hard to find time for and dedicate energy to. However, this experiment reminded me that it is worth devoting time to the deep cleaning of my soul. I hope to remember this and implement it more in my future.

These three principles of faith as a precursor, repenting often, and using repentance as a catalyst for change were made apparent to me throughout my week of repenting daily. For the most part, I remembered to spend some time every day talking to my Heavenly Father about what I could do better, what I hoped he would forgive me for, and how to feel forgiveness in my heart. And, on the days that I forgot to seek his forgiveness, it reminded me of how great a gift it was that I could repent for that as well. 

I learned as I repented that it all had to start with my faith. I had to believe that my Father would forgive me in order for me to feel any better at the end of the day. This was sometimes harder for me than I expected; however, scriptures like 2 Nephi 4:19 helped. That scripture states, “And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (Smith, 1989). If I could just trust God to love me enough, then I knew I could be forgiven. 

This trust played a key role in helping me remember that Heavenly Father would still love me, even if I repented of the same sin many times in one week. I came to realize that God would rather have me come to Him everyday, struggling with the same sins, then to never come to Him because I was ashamed. Shame is a tool of the adversary; love is a tool of God. The very title of Elder Cardon’s talk testifies of God’s love for us: “The Savior Wants to Forgive” (2013). 

Lastly, my experiment upon the word taught me that change is made in our hearts one step at a time. In Alma 37:6 we read that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Smith, 1989). I certainly feel as if my experiment, though small, has made a lasting impact on my heart. If I will keep repenting and keep talking to my Father in Heaven, this repentance will be a catalyst for greater things in my life. I have learned that God loves me and that He can see my heart. He can see that my purposes are pure and my goal is righteous. And finally, I have learned that even though I am not perfect, I am still of great worth to my Father in Heaven who wants to hear from me, talk to me, and forgive me every day.

Cardon, C.A. (2013). The savior wants to forgive. Ensign. Retrieved from
True to the faith: A gospel reference. (2004). Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Smith, J. (1981). The Book of Mormon: An account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi. Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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