I struggle with having to relearn lessons I should have learned long ago. My Dad always said, “If you’re going to make a mistake, at least make it a new one. Don’t make the same mistake twice.” My grandfather (Pa) used to say, “Even a [donkey] never bumps his head more than once.”
Yet, I struggle with repeating mistakes over and over again. For those readers old enough to remember vinyl records, I feel like a deep scratch in a record. Remember how the same word in the song just kept repeating until you picked the needle up and moved it on the other side of the scratch? That’s me. Just a mistake on repeat.
My ears perked up during the April 2018 LDS General Conference when I heard Elder Robbins speak these words.
“Change” is the principal word the Guide to the Scriptures uses to define repentance: “A change of mind and heart that brings a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general.” That kind of change results in spiritual growth. Our success, then, isn’t going from failure to failure, but growing from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm (Elder Lynn G. Robbins, “Until Seventy Times Seven,” Apr. 2018 General Conference (citing Guide to the Scriptures, “Repent, Repentance,” scriptures.lds.org.)).
That’s what it always felt like to me. I was going from failure to failure. I felt like I would never learn. Yet, when I stopped to think about what Elder Robbins said, I had grown from my mistakes—even the ones I had repeated. My enthusiasm for trying was always there, and my intentions were good.
Repentance is all about intentions. We all slip up—especially me. I really try to make good choices, and that’s what Elder Robbins is talking about. I am growing from my mistakes, and my slip ups are becoming less frequent on old mistakes. I’m moving on to a whole new set of mistakes to help me grow.
It is comforting to me to know that Heavenly Father’s plan allows for me to continue trying and that He knows my idiosyncrasies and character flaws better than I do. He knows exactly what I will do in any given situation before I do it. He has left room in the plan for my mess ups. He has provided a way for me to fix the problem. His Son, my Savior, has already paid the price of every dumb thing I’ve ever done and ever will do. All I have to do is continue to try.
Having a change of mind and heart is an ongoing process. The process is long and arduous, but each step along the way brings spiritual growth and maturity.
I was thinking about some of my mistakes through the years. I can actually see myself at different times in my life. Looking back at that person doesn’t feel like I’m looking in a mirror. I’m a different person than I was when I made those mistakes. I grew into a better version of myself—and I’m continuing to grow. Apparently, I have had more spiritual growth than I thought. I’ve just been seeing the negative instead of the growth.
Repentance is an amazing thing. It allows us to move forward instead of spiraling downward. The problem is that a lot of us don’t understand or fully take advantage of repentance. We have a mental block thinking that we can’t possibly succeed, so why try? That’s counterproductive thinking, and it comes from the adversary who doesn’t want us to succeed.
I talked to someone a few months ago who thought that she could never be forgiven by God because she had gone too far astray. I assured her that she is a child of God and that her mistakes have already been paid for by Jesus Christ. I told her They both love her—no matter what she has done. I explained that she had repented for her actions and was living a good life. That’s all that is expected of her. I hope she believed me.
It is hard to teach children about repentance if you don’t fully understand the process yourself. Therefore, it is important that we fully grasp the power of the Atonement and use it in our lives. The next generation will be bombarded with some pretty hard times, and we want them to be prepared to deal with whatever unfolds. They can only do that if they understand repentance and the power of the atonement.
We need to teach them, as Elder Robbins suggests, to come to the sacrament table every week with a fresh attitude and full of enthusiasm. I love that he used the word “enthusiasm” when talking about repentance. I never considered being enthusiastic about taking the sacrament. I will be pondering that as I take the sacrament in the future.
As you go to partake of the sacrament, think not only of the mistakes you’ve made, but also of the growth you’ve made from past mistakes. Be enthusiastic to rid yourself of guilt and pain. Enthusiastically commit to try harder. Spiritually grow from the experience instead of just going from failure to failure.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.