When repenting of a major sin, how can we know whether we are being too hard or too easy on ourselves?
The following comes from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s address at April 2008 Conference.
“Now, brethren, there are those who have neglected to make appropriate course corrections and now believe that they are too far from the Lord’s way to ever make it back. To them we proclaim the good news that is the gospel of redemption and salvation. No matter how terribly off course you are, no matter how far you have strayed, the way back is certain and clear. Come, learn of the Father; offer up a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Have faith, and believe in the cleansing power of the infinite Atonement of Jesus the Christ. If we confess and repent of our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be [made] as white as snow.”
It may not be an easy path, and it requires self-discipline and determination, but its end is glorious beyond description. You are not doomed to a tragic end. Many are eager to assist you—your family, bishops and stake presidents, your quorum leaders, and home teachers. Of course, your greatest friend is the all-powerful Creator of the universe. It is His priesthood you bear. He understands your sorrow. He knows your grief. He and our Father in Heaven will bless, comfort, and strengthen you; They will walk beside you and carry you as you strive to right your course.”
Satan would like us to believe that there is no hope for us when we have sinned, but the great message of the atonement is that we can be forgiven. As stated we need to have a broken heart and contrite spirit, faith and believe in the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. With major sins, we need to confess them to our Bishop or other appropriate Priesthood Leader. They will work with you and help you through the process of repentance. When we have truly repented, the Lord will forgive us. Sometimes we continue to remember them, but that will help us to keep from doing them again.
You need to be hard on yourself to the point that you have the strength to have a broken heart and contrite spirit, but not so much you are discouraged and do nothing about it.