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Question

 

Gramps,

Does one have to go through the full repentance process for all sins? For example, if someone were to roll their eyes at someone would they have to go through the 6 R’s of repentance? If so, how does one repent of sins that they have forgotten?

Wondering

 

Answer

 

Dear Wondering,

I think your heart is in the right place.  You seem to have a desire to repent and be clean and pure.  That is a wonderful thing, and I’m sure the Lord is pleased.  However, you have some misconceptions about the process that I hope I can help you with.

As King Benjamin taught there are divers ways that we can sin (Mosiah 4:29), and as such, I don’t think it is possible for us to literally go through the six R’s for every sin.  We should repent daily, and we should always be striving to do better, but I don’t think it’s even possible to repent of every single sin.

You won’t find the 6 R’s of repentance in the scriptures, at least not as a kind of checklist.  I suspect this list was created to help children and converts have a better understanding of repentance, but true repentance is a change of heart not found in a list.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell said it this way: “Real repentance involves not a mechanical checklist, but a check reining of the natural self.”  Repentance

The checklist may be helpful as a guideline, but what is most important is that you change your heart and turn towards the Lord.

Think of the story of the prodigal son.  He had been blessed abundantly, but for some reason he chose to turn from his father who had blessed him, and go his own way.  In time, the prodigal son recognized the folly of this choice and returned home to his father who welcomed him with open arms.

We are all that prodigal son.  Each of us has been blessed abundantly, and each of us commits sins (some more serious than others, but we all sin).  When we sin, we are turning away from God. When we repent, we are like the prodigal son returning home– returning home to a Father who welcomes us with open arms.

Some sins are more serious and need to be confessed to a Bishop.  In part, this is because some sins may affect our membership in the church (or privileges like partaking of the Sacrament), but I believe there is more to it.  Possibly, it’s also because the more serious sins are harder to overcome on our own.  The need to confess to the Bishop is like stopping and asking for directions.  The kindly guide not only points out the way, but walks beside you to help you arrive safely.  Considering that a Bishop represents the Savior, when you confess to the Bishop it is as if you are confessing to the Savior, and He is offering to walk with you on your journey home.

For lesser sins, you can repent by confessing directly to the Lord.  He understands that you may not be able to remember every single thing you did wrong.  Don’t worry.  Just do your best.  Start now, and repent every day.  Every day you will have new things to repent of, and every day, Christ will be there to guide you (by the Atonement) back to Father who will lovingly take you in His arms.

Repentance is a beautiful gift not a punishment.  It is the light that will guide us home.

 

Gramps

p.s.  You might enjoy this wonderful video.

 

 

 

 

 

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