Have you ever wanted a “do-over?” You know, like when you played Four Square at recess and you totally biffed it and so you asked your friends, “Hey can I get a do-over?” “Do-overs? are the best! According to Dictionary.com, the word “do-over” does not exist, but I bet you know exactly what I am taking about. That’s because we all want do-overs. We have all had times, lying in bed at night, wishing we could change something we did that day. Maybe you have had a series of serious regrets in your life. Maybe you desperately want to change, but just can’t see a way.
Whether it is a short conversation we would like to redo or a lifetime of bad choices, there is hope that we can change. Each day is a new start and an opportunity to make new and better choices. Each day can be a “do-over.” How is such a thing done? How can we be a new, clean and whole person when we made so many bad choices and mistakes in our past? It is through the miracle of repentance that we can change. Your Heavenly Father loves you. He wants you to be happy and have joy in this life. His commandments and teachings help us to be better, kinder, more loving and compassionate to all around us. However, Heavenly Father knew that we would fall short and make mistakes, so He sent his son, that through his atonement, we could repent and begin anew. Repentance includes forming a healthy view of God, ourselves and the world.
So how do we do it? First, we must recognize our sins and shortcomings. This can be difficult as honest self-reflection is tough. If it is a very serious sin, drugs, alcohol, pornography addiction or anything else that seems too big for us to overcome by ourselves, we can reach out for help.
Second, we must feel sorrow for our sins. This sorrow is not just regret about the negative consequences we may have to suffer, but godly sorrow that we have made choices not in harmony with his will. Third, we must ask God in prayer to forgive us.
Fourth, we must do all we can to correct any harm our actions may have caused. This can be embarrassing or even awkward at times, but if we are humble, it can be a transformative experience. As we sincerely apologize to someone we have wronged, we can often feel the power of repentance healing us both. We must do restitution. Sometimes the form of restitution is obvious, like having a kid apologize for stealing a candy bar and repaying the shopkeeper. In the adult world, this can be more difficult, but the principle is the same. If we gossiped about someone or maligned their reputation we can work to restore their good name. If we were mean to someone, even if we can justify that they are at fault, we can humble ourselves and apologize. If we have hurt someone’s feelings, we can do something to brighten their day. If we would all do this, imagine the change in our families and communities. We often let guilt and wrongs fester until we feel it’s too late to make a correction, but don’t wait, make amends today!
Finally, we must try to avoid these mistakes in the future. If there are places you go or people that you are around that make it hard for you to make good choices, find new places and new friends. A true friend makes it easier for you to be your best self.
It is not easy to be at peace or find true joy in today’s troubled world. As President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The essence of the miracle of forgiveness is that it brings peace to the previously anxious, restless, frustrated, perhaps tormented soul. In a world of turmoil and contention this is indeed a priceless gift. This glorious miracle awaiting every soul who is prepared to change. Repentance and forgiveness make a brilliant day of the darkest night. When souls are reborn, when lives are changed, then comes the great miracle to beautify and warm and lift.”
• Jacqueline F. Tupou is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.