Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Question

 

Hi Gramps!

I feel that I am so unworthy to receive faith. I believe that the Church is true.  I am so scared that I won’t feel anything when I pray that I just don’t pray and ask the question I need. I am doubting God, and I hate to. I have committed the same sin over and over and keep apologizing but end up doing it again. This is why I feel so unworthy. What can strengthen my faith and help me get over my sin without talking to the bishop? I am scared to talk to him too.

Hopeless

 

Answer

 

Dear Hopeless,

I feel it necessary to first address your chosen pseudonym.  No matter how hopeless you may feel, your situation is not hopeless.  I am reminded of these words from Paul, in Romans 8:38-39, given in answer to the question “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

 

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Even our sins do not separate us from the love of our Savior.  Indeed, after all he experienced in order to redeem each one of us, surely his love is perfect and eternal.  The Lord reminds us of that in more than one place in the Doctrine & Covenants.  But D&C 18:10-12 seems especially relevant for you:

10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

 

11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

 

12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.

You are of great worth in the sight of God.  And as we see at the end of these verses, redemption is on conditions of repentance.  You have told us that you have fallen into a pattern of repenting, and then repeating the same sin.  First, let me assure you that you are not alone in this.  Indeed, I would venture to guess that every one of us has done this to some extent.  The good news is that the Lord wants to forgive us:

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

He has already paid the price.  All that remains is for us to reach out to him, and keep reaching out to him for as long as it takes.

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

 

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.  (Matthew 18:21-22)

As far as I can recall and reason, the Lord doesn’t command us to do things he wouldn’t do.  So if we are to forgive repeatedly, surely he will as well.

But, as the end of your question hints, sometimes, we need help in this process, and it is the bishop’s calling to help us.  Repentance is a process, and sometimes takes more than personal prayer asking forgiveness (D&C 58:42-43):

42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

 

43 By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.

My hopeful friend, only Satan wants you to feel fear – fear that God won’t forgive, fear that you will never be free of this sin, fear of confessing to your bishop.  But the Lord wants to to feel love – loved as a soul of great worth, loved as one who will be forgiven until seventy times seven, loved as one whose scarlet sins can be made white as snow.

You asked what you can do besides confessing to your bishop, and I’ll address that in a moment, but I feel strongly that you need to go and visit with your bishop.  From the experiences I know of, I can promise you that not only will it not be as bad as you fear, it will be a relief.  Your bishop holds keys to help you receive the blessings of Christ’s Atonement.  Let him use those keys in your life.  In his October 2016 General Conference talk, “Repentance, A Joyful Choice“, Elder Renlund related an experience which exemplifies this truth (this is the end of a story wherein he had gone to confess something to the branch president; emphasis mine):

I will never forget President Lindberg’s compassionate smile when I looked up after I had finished reading. With some emotion, he told me that he felt it would be fine for me to resume partaking of the sacrament. As I left his office, I felt indescribable joy.

When we confess our sins, a burden is immediately lifted because Christ takes that burden from us and begins to help us through the repentance process.  While repenting from a long-term sin is not a one-time or simple process, the act of humbling oneself sufficient to confess to the Lord’s representative, combined with the support of the Lord and that representative is truly a relieving, uplifting, and hopeful experience.  Please don’t try to go it alone any longer.  Reject Satan’s efforts to make you feel lost and alone.  Reach out to the Lord through your bishop, and feel immediate comfort.

Now, your final question of what you can do in addition.  I have two answers.  The first, you already know: it’s the primary answers.  Obey the commandments.  Study your scriptures, pray, serve others, attend your church meetings.  Do these things sincerely, to the best of your ability.  They bring the Spirit into your life, and the Spirit helps to cleanse you.  I’m reminded of the first verse of one of my favorite hymns, “How Gentle God’s Commands” (emphasis mine):

How gentle God’s commands!
How kind his precepts are!
Come, cast your burdens on the Lord
And trust his constant care.
My second answer is to relate an experience, not so unlike your own, of a close friend.  I’ll quote her words here (with permission).
I was struggling to change my heart, to overcome a particular temptation.  With the help of my bishop, I felt like I had been forgiven of a particular sin, that while not serious, I had been unable to completely forsake without help.  I also wanted to feel a complete change of heart, and I didn’t know how to change my own heart.  I prayed every morning and every night to overcome this temptation and to have my heart changed such that the temptation was no longer appealing to me.  Then, because I didn’t know what else to do, I left that burden with the Lord, and just did my best to obey the commandments.  I repeated this prayer twice a day for years.  After about three years, as I was falling asleep, I remembered how it was in the beginning, when I had started these prayers, and realized that the Lord had changed me.  I had done my best to be obedient, I had prayed for this change, but I hadn’t made the change myself, and I hadn’t even been aware of it before that moment.  Instead, bit by bit, the Lord had changed me, and not only in the way I had asked for, but also the Lord had taught me to be happier, to have a different perspective.  I realized that I was very different from where I had been three years prior.

So, have hope, my friend, for hope is what the Savior gives us.  As my friend, Elder Renlund, and many others can attest, it will not be as bad as you think it will be.  In fact, it will be a joyful relief.  You will receive strength, help, and guidance as you go.  While you do your best to obey, the Lord will change your heart, first with the help of your bishop, and then through the Spirit, as you continue your effort to receive blessings from him.  Don’t give up, even if it takes years.  This is a lifelong process we are all going through.  There is no reason to fear the repentance process, it is one born of love (see D&C 95:1).

You have my prayers as well, and surely the prayers of many who will read this.

 

Gramps

 

 

(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)
Copyright © 2017 Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine. All Rights Reserved.
This website is not owned by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. The views expressed by individual users are the responsibility of those users and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church. For the official Church websites, please visit LDS.org or Mormon.org.

Pin It on Pinterest