This is Part 2 in a series of articles on repentance. They are based on my experiences. I am writing with the hope that others who are seeking the Lord will find something meaningful to aid them in their journey towards obtaining a remission of their sins.
The first example came from a man named Smith, Sergeant Smith. He was about 10 years my senior, married with a small family. His objective in life was to increase in military rank. To accomplish his goal he let the men in our unit know that he would make sure we had a good time, if we helped him get promoted in rank. We soon found out that he had an ample supply of liquor at his home. On the weekends those who did his bidding were invited to his place to party. There was good food, a well stocked liquor cabinet, and a fridge full of beer. I was worried that my commitment to repent would be side tracked. However, after going to a few Sergeant Smith’s parties I observed some things that redoubled my determination to change (repent). It soon became apparent that he didn’t care very deeply about anyone at the party—including his wife and children. The positive impression he initially made was lost when I saw the smallness of character he actually possessed by the way he treated his wife.
The second example was Jack. He wasn’t in the military; he was a salesman. He was also a branch president. He and his family befriended me. I spent a lot of time at their home. Jack radiated all the qualities of character that Sergeant Smith lacked. I knew he cared for me and the other members of the branch. His objective in life was to serve the Lord and his family. The more time I spent with him the greater became my appreciation, love, and respect for him.
One day I got to thinking about the contrast between Sergeant Smith and Jack. I remember thinking that if I didn’t repent I could end up being like Smith. And if I did repent, I could become like Jack. This was an important, even a profound insight for me. It literally changed something in me.
As I think back on those early years of my life, I realize that Heavenly Father was guiding and helping me. He enabled me to see my own future through the examples of these two men. I saw that I was more like Sergeant Smith than Jack—and it created a pain in my soul. I wanted to repent, but I found out just how difficult it can be. I would often backslide in my efforts to change (repent). But I was also aware of an influence that was with me. In my better moments, I had confidence that this influence would stand by me through the thick and thin of repentance—as long as I didn’t give up. I began to learn what the Lord meant when He said: “…as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me”.
In part 3, I’ll go into more detail about my experience with the Savior’s willingness to forgive my trespasses—over and over again.