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Dear Gramps,
I joined the church 27 years ago at the age of 17 after a number of very profound spiritual experiences. I also received a powerful, specific witness one night that the Book of Mormon was true, which spirit rested upon me for about 20 minutes and reduced me to a near whisper. After talking with many people, it appears that my spiritual  conversion experiences are not common for most converts. Be that as it may, I was weak and wasn’t able to forsake some immoral tendencies for a very, very long time (years), for which I eventually completely lost the spirit and my testimony, although I never stopped attending church. It has taken me many years of trying to repent to get back even just a small glimmer of the original light of testimony which I once had. But I am still unable to look someone in the eye and truthfully testify with doubtless conviction that I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, or that the Book of Mormon is true, although I still believe that they are. But having once seen the dark and had serious doubts creep in, I can’t for the life of me seem to shake them. Being morally clean now helps tremendously in allowing me enough light to get by, but I am still very far from where I once was. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get back spiritually to where I once was? I read my scriptures every day, say my prayers, keep the commandments and try to serve whenever asked, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough to get me back to where I once was spiritually. My way seems continuously hedged up and my bishop is stumped. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Dear Perplexed,
There is a pertinent scripture that I think could apply in your case—

Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins–behold, he will confess them and forsake them (D&C  58:42-43).

So if one is fully repentant it would be as if the sin had not been committed, and there should be no impedance to the influence of the Holy Spirit. But the key to repentance is given in the above scripture– he will confess them and forsake them. It seems that the confession part has been taken care of, but we need to examine the “forsaking” part. What does it mean to forsake something? The dictionary definition of forsake is “to renounce or turn away from entirely.”  If one, through masterly self control, avoids repeating the undesired action, that is not repentance, that is self control. Such a person has the same mental attitude as before, but he has mustered the strength to not give it expression. Solomon said,

For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he (Prov  23:7).

If a person really repents he has changed his character. He is of a mind t not be caught dead doing or thinking of what he did before. If what you were doing changes from being enticing to being repulsive to you, then you have repented. That may be your problem.

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