Forgiving Ourselves

Forgiveness is a strange concept to many of us. It’s straightforward, yet can be very difficult at times. Forgiving others is hard enough, but often we find it impossible to forgive ourselves. Whether it’s out of insecurity or a need to receive the pity of others, we hold things over our own heads, sometimes for years and years. Forgiving ourselves, however, is a commandment.

In the Doctrine and Covenenants, the Lord commanded,

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10)

“All men” means exactly that, all men. This includes ourselves. The Lord has also said that if we are not willing to forgive, He will not forgive us. The same applies to forgiving ourselves. We are commanded to do it, and we must do it if we expect forgiveness from the Lord.

If you truly feel like you have not been forgiven, go to your Heavenly Father in prayer. Ask for forgiveness and for a confirmation of it from the Spirit. When we are forgiven, Satan does not want us to recognize it. He would rather have us feel miserable and incapable of doing good. A lot of the time, when we have done something wrong we convince ourselves that that means we cannot do any more good, that we cannot help someone. This is not true, but when Satan gets us to think that way, he hinders us from doing the good that we are capable of doing.

This is partially why refusing to forgive oneself is such a grievous thing to the Lord. We use it to excuse ourselves from the Lord’s work. We use it as an excuse to be idle, lazy, or apathetic. This is not the Lord’s way. The Lord’s way is to forgive ourselves, or others, and move on, doing good to others.

In the most recent General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles advised,

It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late.

Refusing to forgive ourselves is denying the healing power of Jesus Christ’s atonement. I echo Elder Holland’s counsel, to you and myself, to not procastinate the fellowship of the Lord’s labor. He has work for us to do, and if we are carrying unncecessary weight upon our shoulders, we need to remove it and give it to Him. Let Him take your burdens so you can work to your fullest.

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Give Way to Summer’s Warmth

Winter’s cold is finally giving way to summer’s warmth. It only took forever, but I’m thankful it’s finally starting to arrive. Yesterday was the first day in… about five months… I was able to just walk around without a sweater or a jacket of some kind. It felt good to actually be warm. I’ve been cold since October and was really getting sick of it.

Well, although the weather yesterday was good, my attitude wasn’t. So as not to bore you with details, let’s just say that the day didn’t start off too great and some later events made me even more upset. Later in the day, things got better and by the time we got back to our place that night my mood had improved. I said a prayer before retiring to bed, asking my Heavenly Father to forgive me for allowing my attitude to get the best of me.

So I made my peace, went to sleep, dreamed about Coheed and Cambria (no joke), and woke up refreshed. I not only felt physically well, but my mind felt at peace. I’m amazed time and time again how merciful God is, how patient He is, and how willing He is to forgive us and let us try again the next day. He truly is our Father, ’cause honestly, only a parent could treat us with such tender kindness. Only a parent could be so willing to say, “Wow, yeah, you really screwed up, but it’s okay. I love you, so let’s try this again.”

In the Doctrine and Covenants (modern revelation), we read, “verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death.

This experience of being forgiven and given yet another chance feels, to me at least, a lot like the weather I experienced yesterday. After being cold and chilly for such a long time, words can’t describe how awesome it was to feel the sun and finally be warm.

That’s what the Atonement of Christ feels like when it operates in our lives. We feel warm, vibrant, and bright. We don’t need to hide behind bundles of clothing that restrict our movements. We’re free to go out and do more. That is the delivering power of Jesus Christ. He frees us. He brightens the day. If sin is the winter’s chill, keeping us in place, then Jesus Christ is summer’s warmth, melting the ice to make us warm and free.

 

Rubik’s Life Lessons IV: You Can Always Be Solved

Lesson Four

No matter how mixed up you are, you can always be solved. That is the beauty of Christ’s Atonement. No stain is too deep to wash clean. No wound is too severe to heal. No soul too miserable to be comforted. Through Jesus Christ, the colors can always be matched up again.

In the Book of Mormon, we read of the wise counsel of a loving father to his two sons.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.(Helaman 5:12)

He tells his sons that if they build the foundation of their faith upon Jesus Christ, the devil will have no power over them to bring them down to misery. Helaman, the name of this father, also says that this will happen when the devil will send his storm upon us. It’s not a matter of if. We will face adversity and trials in this life. Our ‘cube’ is going to get mixed up time and time again, but by relying on Christ and standing upon the rock of His atoning sacrifice we will not be brought down into the crashing waves.

Jesus Christ is our Advocate with the Father. He is the Way to the Father, the Messenger for the Father, and He will plead for us when we stand before the judgment bar of God, if we have had faith on Him and used His atonement.

Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—

Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life(Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5)

If we repent and forsake our sins, our Heavenly Father will forgive us, and we will someday enter into His kingdom and live with Him again eternally. I know this to be true, and I know it’s only possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how mixed up you think you are. Come unto Him and you can be solved, you can be healed and forgiven.

Rubik’s Life Lessons I: Easier Than It Looks

So, not too long ago some other missionaries serving near me taught me how to solve a Rubik’s cube. They had a Rubik’s cube in their apartment and, in frustration, I would watch them solve it over and over again. It got to the point that I had to be able to do it too. I had always wanted to be able to solve those stupid little obnoxious boxes. So I made them teach me their method and in a few minutes I found myself with a solved Rubik’s cube in my hands.

Strangely enough, there are a lot of life lessons that can be learned from this ingenious little toy. And so, this is the beginning of a series of short lessons that I’ve learned (and am still trying to correctly apply) in my life. I hope you enjoy them.

Lesson One

We are going to liken a Rubik’s cube to repentance, and for the sake of the analogy, let’s say that the Rubik’s cube in this lesson is an extension of yourself. Your spirit, your soul, your conscience, whatever term you would like to use. We come into this life with our Rubik’s cube solved. It’s perfect, but as we grow older some twists are applied to the cube and eventually we find ourselves all scrambled up. The colors are no longer in the right places and now we see that we need to solve our cube.

If you’re like me, you’ve seen someone solve one of these toys and thought “How in the world do they do that?” It just seems impossible. At least to me it appeared to be a task I would never accomplish. That’s often how we feel about repentance, and about coming to God to ask for forgiveness and then going out into the world to be a better person. We may feel that we will simply never be solved. We will forever be scrambled up and never experience the joy of having all our colors where they need to be.

You know what I realized after I finally got the solving method down? I realized it was so easy. I’m not saying that I understand the ins and outs of solving a Rubik’s cube, but I know a method, I apply it, and I solve the puzzle. I was amazed at how simple it was to solve it. When I solve it in front of people, they often express frustration at how difficult it appears and how they can’t figure out how I do it. I just tell them that I know a really easy method and I use it.

The same goes for repentance and change. It seems daunting, like an infinitely high mountain that we simply can’t climb over, but that’s only Satan trying to tell us not to try. Our Savior Jesus Christ is there telling us that we can climb that mountain. We just need to rely on Him and press forward, using the correct method: repentance. We recognize our mistakes and weaknesses. We acknowledge them to God and confess them to Him. If we have wronged another, we confess our mistake to that individual. We ask for forgiveness from God, relying upon the Atonement of Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. We right our wrong. Give back what was stolen. Replace the lie with truth. Etc. Then we forsake the sin andstrive to never commit it again.

This is the method of change. It truly is simple, and that is the beauty of it. I know that repentance is a gift given to us from God, made possible through our Savior Jesus Christ. God wants us to change and put off the carnal man within us. He would not make the method too difficult to follow. It takes courage, faith, and perseverance, but it is simple and easier than we think if we rely on Christ.

As Daylight Dies

Contest the lies
We cannot be so blind
Hear their cries
Don’t wait till daylight dies.

Daylight Dies“, by Killswitch Engage

So I got a new companion; I picked him up in Great Falls. We stayed there for a couple days before driving back up to our place. When we arrived at our place he unpacked and then went downstairs to do laundry. Thirty seconds went by and he rushed back up the stairs.

“You better come down and see this,” he said to me.

I followed him down to find half the basement flooded with about an inch of water. Turns out, the water heater was leaking. Boxes and clothing belonging to the owners of the house were soaked. We ran to the neighbors and they brought over a shopvac to suck up all the water. We spent most of this morning moving clothes and boxes and vaccuming up more water. We’ll definitely need a new water heater.

The problem was simple. The water heater was about sixteen years old and had rusted on the bottom until it simply could no longer hold the water.

This water heater is a lot like our own problems. When a situation arises, we need to be sure to take care of it right away. It may be a wrongdoing, a sin that we’re covering up. It may be a problem we have with an individual that we put off and allow to fester. Whatever the circumstances, it never works out when we allow it to grow and escalate. The water heater should’ve been replaced years ago. Just the same, we may have problems that we should’ve dealt with a long time ago, but instead have been left to rust.

If we don’t deal with them, eventually they’ll leak out, often spoiling the lives of loved ones and others in the process.

Amulek, in the Book of Mormon taught,

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. (Alma 34:33)

Whether it is a sin or not, we can’t afford to procrastinate the day of our repentance or our resolving. Work while it is still day.

“And ye shall also forgive one another…”

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

(Matthew 6:14-15)

There is more to forgiveness than having God forgive us of our sins. Forgiveness also involves us forgiving those that have wronged us. It’s not always an easy thing to do. The “natural man” within us doesn’t like to let things go. Holding a grudge, or holding a wrong deed over someone’s head to cause them endless guilt, is often our view of justice. But this isn’t so. We know that it’s not our place to judge, so we are commanded to forgive others.

In the Book of Mormon, the Lord told the prophet Alma this:

And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation. (Mosiah 26:31)

If we cannot forgive others of personal and often minor offenses, how can we expect our Heavenly Father to forgive us of our disobedience to His commandments? Let us not judge one another, but instead love and forgive one another. In this way can charity, the pure love of Christ, abound within us.