It’s my second day as an honorary Latter-day Saint, and I’ve already screwed up.
How often do we find ourselves on a spiritual high, when the world is ripe and ready for our pleasure, only for a storm to rain on our parade?
A financial situation took me by surprise yesterday and it felt like a punch in the face. How could this happen? Why didn’t I know about it? Heat rose from my gut, up my throat, and within moments I spewed molten words of anger and frustration at my wife over the phone. She and my daughters were on their way home from the beach and I had not seen them in two days.
And this is how I beckoned them home?
Anger takes us so quickly that, if we are not on guard, it overwhelms us and the levies of our spiritual defenses collapse. I’ve only been a Latter-day Saint for a day. My training foundation isn’t even dry yet.
So I fell hard, and I knew I was wrong. I lost the warmth I felt while I studied Scripture. The desire to repent was there, but I’m a stubborn man who, at that moment, acted more like a fussy boy. I wanted anger. I wanted that fire in my stomach and throat to burn out on its own.
But that isn’t what Heavenly Father wants, and this month it’s not about me, but Him.
“Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence.” –Moses 6: 57
The whole point of this earthly existence is for mankind to gain knowledge and experience via the agency of free will to know right from wrong, wisdom from folly, and realize our relationship as sons and daughters of Heavenly Father.
“Behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” –Moses 1: 39
How can I do that screaming over the phone?
For the first time in 10 years, the heavy sensation of sin dragged my heart down. What’s worse is that I knew what I had done was wrong during the act. James, the brother of Jesus, described sin this way, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him is sin.”
My faith this month prescribes one solution to cleansing sin: repentance and the blood atonement of Jesus Christ.
Repentance…okay, I’m good with that, but I’ve had a problem with the blood atonement concept for years. Why am I wrestling with this so much? Maybe it’s because the theology is familiar. I put it down once, and now I’m picking it up again. But what is the blood atonement?
Jesus Christ “came into the world…to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved.” –Doctrines and Covenants 76: 41-42
According to Latter-day Saints theology, Jesus is a spirit child of God—just as we are—who signed up for and was ordained by Heavenly Father to take on this burden. I still don’t understand why this needed to happen, but I do know that if I want my sin—my anger—wiped away, then I need to accept the actions and teachings of Christ.
If I am a Mormon, I must surrender.
But there is hope for me, because even in his lowest and most painful moments, when Jesus begged our Heavenly Father to take the bitter cup of death from his lips, he manned up and said,
“…not by my will, but yours [God’s].”
If Jesus had the guts to do God’s will, then I better suck it up, put aside my petty reservations on the particulars, and get down to business.
According to the text, Gospel Principles, the following steps result in the removal of sin:
Recognize our sins, Feel sorrow for our sins, Forsake our sins, Confess our sins, Make restitution, Forgive others, Keep the commandments of God.
In other words, swallow your pride.
It took a while but I eventually apologized to Heavenly Father and my wife and asked for forgiveness. I’m blessed with a wife and a Heavenly Father who are quick to forgive.
The road is always treacherous on our way to the Father, but we are assured victory if we trust in God and the example set for us by Jesus. All we have to do is summon the courage to ask for direction and when presented with the Way, take it.
“Ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” -2 Nephi 31: 20
When is the last time you were stubborn and hoarded your sin? If you aren’t religious, how long will it take for you to bury the hatchet you’ve carried around for so long? Sin and guilt are like weights tied to our ankles. Sometimes we’re just too childish to realize that we hold the knife to cut ourselves free.