Today is garbage day. You know—the day designated for gathering up all the refuse in the house and depositing it in the garbage can for pickup. In my neighborhood, like most, this day occurs once-a-week.
As I wheeled the can to the curb for pickup, I noticed that the truck had luckily not come yet because blue garbage cans littered the street where we live. However, not everyone had their garbage cans out yet. Some had delayed or forgotten.
It wasn’t a big job. My wife helped bring a few waste baskets down from the upstairs room and in just a few minutes, we had all the trash deposited and ready for pickup—a light job to say the least.
When I was a boy, men used to follow behind the truck and throw the metal trash cans into the back of the garbage truck to empty them. Nowadays it’s automatic. But either way, the task was completed at regular intervals and was manageable.
But imagine with me a different scenario. Let’s say that we were too busy today to properly deal with the trash and empty the garbage as I have described. That isn’t too big a deal. It happens on occasion to all of us. But if that scenario repeats itself week after week, the consequences are much more severe.
“Okay! You are all taken care of,” yells the garbage worker. “We’ll be back in a year to pick up whatever you have next.”
What? Next year? We need this service every week! There is no way we can carry our garbage around for an entire year. Our homes and neighborhoods would be putrid with decaying garbage and filth. I can’t and don’t want to even imagine the side effects of such a poor strategy. I think you get my drift.
Well, it was at this point that I situated the empty garbage can now in its vacant spot just outside the garage. I thought to myself, ‘No one would dispute the need to exercise habits of cleanliness by regularly dealing with trash in our home and yards, but are we ever guilty of failing to address the filth or at least the unsightly in our lives?’
I know that I could do better at this. Maybe you can too.
Just like regularly emptying the garbage in our homes, we need to eliminate the unappealing and sinful elements in our lives. If we don’t, it is just like carrying around garbage that bruises our relationships, impedes our effectiveness, and causes havoc that could otherwise be avoided by taking out the garbage regularly—and by that, I am referring to repentance.
Repentance is not more work. It is simply doing it at regular intervals. For me, it is something I try to do every day. That way, problems are addressed when the task is still small and easy to tackle. There are many good reasons why this strategy is superior to delaying the inevitable, but rather than taking my word for it, let’s defer to a more reliable authority on the subject than I. According to the Church’s website, repentance is explained as a change of mind and heart that brings a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general:
Repentance implies that a person turns away from evil and turns his heart and will to God, submitting to God’s commandments and desires and forsaking sin. True repentance comes from a love for God and a sincere desire to obey His commandments.
You know that, but I am going to provide a different metaphor that has, for me, become a way of life. When I was a boy, my dad had a jewelry box that looked something like a treasure chest. That alone fascinated me. But inside the lid, in its felt-covered interior, were little sectionals that held ‘jewels’ such as cufflinks, tie pins, bracelets, and rings.
Yes. It was a virtual treasure chest for a small boy like me. Though I did not take these treasures to play with at the time, my little imagination was all over it. I don’t remember the contents specifically except for one ring. The ring I am referring to is a beautiful ruby set inside a gold beau. I loved that ring, though I don’t really remember my father ever wearing it. I’m sure he must have, and if I asked my mother about it, there has got to be a story behind this treasure.
For me, the ring represents my father: his love, compassion, and my fond memories of him. When he passed, I asked my mother if I could have the ring. She consented, and now nearly every day when I head to the office, I put it on. And when I do, I think of my dad. I feel the warmth of his smile, the satisfaction of his commendations, and I want to be a better person because he is a very fine person whom I love and admire. I am certain you can relate to those kinds of sentiments in your own lives.
So you may be asking what in the world this has to do with garbage: jewelry and an anecdote that gets more confusing all the time. Well, you see, we all have a Father who loves us and wants to bless us; a Father whom we can love and admire. But He too can sometimes feel far away though we yearn to be near him. But just like I have a symbol (my ring) that reminds me of my father every day, we have the Savior Jesus Christ and customs and behaviors surrounding him that remind us daily of our Father in Heaven. The Mormon Newsroom describes it this way:
From ancient times, men and women have embraced sacred music, different forms of prayer, religious vestments full of symbolism, gestures and rituals to express their innermost feelings of devotion to God.
Whether it is daily prayer and scripture study, keeping the commandments, choosing the type of clothes we wear or the way we speak, these decisions and rituals impact the way we live and the people we become. They remind us of the Savior Jesus Christ and the special relationship we have with our Heavenly Father. Similarly, repentance is a significant part of that custom for me. That very act brings me closer to God. Though for a season we are apart, I know we will be reunited in due time.
It seems that like many commonplace things in life, repentance and asking forgiveness need to occur in a regular pattern of daily orderliness. As we seek mercy from our Heavenly Father, we are reminded of His love for us and we remember Him frequently.
All of our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead lead to the holy temple. President Russell M. Nelson told the temple presidents and matrons:
“As you serve … you will come to realize that temple service is the crown jewel of all of our work in the Church.” – President Nelson.
In a BYU Devotional, Chauncey C. Riddle related,
“These precious jewel concepts, when properly cut and polished, become instruments through which the light of Christ is translated into understanding and good deeds in the life of a Saint.” – Chauncey C. Riddle
As our Heavenly Father’s children, we are told that we are precious, worthwhile, and created in His image. Is it any wonder that the poet William Wordsworth speaks thus of our royal birth: “Trailing clouds of glory do we come, From God, who is our home”?
We indeed are His jewels, and we are reminded of that when we seek His forgiveness.
It is in those moments that we honor and remember Him most.
“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.”
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.