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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Steps of Repentance and Knowing if You've Been Forgiven

Dear Bro. Jo

I've followed your blog for the past couple years and I love it. First time I've needed advice though. Here goes.. (this story happened before I found your blog, so I realize all the mistakes we made) I grew up with this boy we'll call Ryan. I've known Ryan my entire life, he was best friends with my older brother going up, our families were very close, yaddy yaddy ya.. His dad was stake pres. My dad was bishop. He was looked at as the perfect kid. Always did everything right.


We started talking and dating some. Not many people knew we really liked each other. It wasn't too serious of a relationship.. Problem was I was very naive and head over heels for him. (I was 16 he was 18.) We texted WAY too much, never enough actual talking I realize now. We started to joke around about kissing, and everything and one weekend we were going on a double date with some other LDS kids. We kinda planned that we were going to kiss then. We drove to meet the other couple about 20 minutes away and then on the way home he stopped and parked the car. (Bad.. yes I know)

We started kissing.. and it seemed to happen so fast looking back now, but he put one of my hands on his abs and then he put his hand on my back under my shirt. That was it. Went home. It happened one more time. Same kind of thing, kissing I put my hand on his stomach he rubbed his hand on my back.

Then I started feeling reeeally guilty. I understood I shouldn't have done this. I realize that. In my head I rationalized and said that he was a good kid and that is must be okay. Yeeah.

Even if he's a good kid, good kids do stupid things.

We called it off a few weeks after all this. I had prayed about it a few months after for forgiveness but I'm not sure it was completely a humble and sincere prayer (looking back now) I kind of stopped thinking about it, and hadn't thought of it too much until a lesson in YW's.

It talked about how a girl was about to get married but then started having regrets for what she did with her ex-boyfriend. They had pushed the limits and she felt guilty and told her fiancé a week before the wedding and they had to push everything back... anyways that story really hit me! I mean they didn't say of course what she did. So I don't know how serious it was. But It made me think more about what we did those couple nights. I prayed sincerely for forgiveness for what we had done. I felt really bad.

Afterwards I felt like I needed to talk to him about it.. I wanted to talk to him before he left on his mission but I never did. Last August he had been out a few months and I couldn't shake these feelings. I sent him a letter . Told him what I was feeling and I guess I wanted confirmation?

I'm not really sure.

Anyways.. he told me he had told the bishop before he went on his mission and he felt he was forgiven for it and everything. I have prayed quite a few more times for forgiveness on this matter and I guess the bottom line of me writing to you today is this: How serious of a sin needs to be committed to go to the Bishop?

I know what we did was wrong. But it wasn't as bad as many other sins you go to the Bishop about. I've heard that if you feel like you need to, you should see the Bishop. I hadn't even thought about it until Ryan brought it up. So.. I'm not sure exactly. I touched his stomach/chest, he touched my back, and we made out. That was it. No more, no less. I've prayed, and I think I've been forgiven but I don't want to be like that woman on the week of her wedding who has to put off a temple marriage because of it. Also, my dad is my Bishop and that would be double awkward. I'm going into the Singles branch soon though, and headed out to BYU in the Fall. I would really like to get it all taken care of, IF I haven't already. I just have mixed feelings. I think I have been forgiven, but then on the other hand occasionally I will feel still occasionally feel the guilt from it. (I understand we should still feel guilty, but.. idk)

Confuseeddd.. (or whatever signature you would like to put lol)

PS: Sorry so long. I rambled.. even after I told myself I wouldn't.

Dear Signature,

While you've gone further than I like for someone your age, I don't know that what you've done qualifies as a "must go talk to your Bishop" conversation.

However, if it bothers you, Make The Appointment. It's always better to have the conversation and be sure than to assume you don't need to have it and be wrong. You won't be telling him something he doesn't already know, but sometimes vocal confession is part of the repentance process.

Repentance is between you and the Lord, so only you and he will know for sure if you've repented, but your Bishop can help you understand the Steps of Repentance and work through them should you need his help. Bishops are great at giving spiritual advice.

To review, the steps of repentance are;

1. Feel sorry for what you've done. (Godly sorrow.) Not just that you were caught, but understand the pain you've caused.

2. Confess. To Heavenly Father (not that he doesn't already know, but it needs to be said), to the person you've wronged if necessary, and to your Bishop if the sin is grievous enough to put your Temple worthiness in question.

3. Ask for forgiveness. Ask God, through prayer, to forgive your sins. Ask for forgiveness of those you've wronged if appropriate. This humbling step will help to open your heart to the Savior's love.

4. Make Restitution. If possible, replace what you've taken and repair what you've damaged.

5. Turn away. Show Heavenly Father and Christ that you mean what you say, and leave the sin in your past.

(Sometimes people will add an intermediate step between 2 and 3, which is acknowledging that Christ is our Savior and it's through Him and His Atonement that we can receive forgiveness of our sins. I've also seen an additional "last step" which is to "receive forgiveness"; which is also called "forgiving yourself" - the step you're struggling with.)

And I think you're right, we'll still have regrets and feelings of guilt from time to time. That's part of how we remember and how we learn.

Trust in Christ. You'll never go wrong.

- Bro Jo

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