My friend, Selpha (name changed), once confided in me “Why is it that even after you have already gone through the process of repentance, it is still hard to forgive yourself for your mistakes? Am I not doing enough? Does the Lord require more of me?”
One of the purposes of coming to this earth is for us to learn important lessons, and eventually become more like our Heavenly Father. However, this wonderful plan does not require us to be perfect.. The Lord knows we fall short, thus He provided the principle of repentance; allowing us to turn back to Him after making unwise choices. But what if we still can’t forgive ourselves after mistakes? Here are some of the things we can do to feel that sweet peace once again.
Listen to or Read the Words of Modern Prophets
The leaders of the Church are commanded to “cry repentance unto [His] people.” Browse through topics from General Conference and there will always be several talks that focus on repentance and forgiveness. When that feeling of guilt overcomes you, listen to or read one of these talks. Think of how the words are meant for you and what you’re going through. There will often be lines that can bring comfort to your heart.
Talk to the Proper Authority
Confession is an important part of the repentance process. Some of us may feel “Oh, I have already confessed to the Lord and I have stopped doing those things.” However, when we still carry that heavy feeling in our hearts, it could mean that we still need to talk to the proper priesthood authority: our Bishops.
Elder C. Scott Grow shared a story about a middle-aged woman who still carried the guilt of a mistake she had made in her teenage years. In his words, this woman carried “the burden of sin alone instead of letting the Savior take away the burden.” When the woman finally confessed to him, he saw a change in her countenance. He saw happiness.
Elder Grow also shared “Please don’t make that mistake. If you have feelings of guilt but are not sure if you need to confess to your bishop, go see him. Let him help you. Don’t risk carrying an unnecessary burden through your life, which will leave you feeling miserable. Through your confession to the bishop and your repentance, the Lord will lift that burden from your soul.”
Continue Doing Good
When feelings of guilt come to us, the adversary may use them to make us think that we’ll never ever be worthy again. This thought can consume you, filling you with feelings of inadequacy, and causing you to forget others. But serving others is the surest way to feel peace and joy. Go out, serve, and never cease to obey the commandments of the Lord.
Ask the Lord
Satan wants to stop the progress of the repentant soul. He wants us to believe we’re hopeless and we should not bother trying to repent. But the Lord will never put discouraging words in our hearts. Elder Neil A. Andersen said “I am amazed at the Savior’s encircling arms of mercy and love for the repentant, no matter how selfish the forsaken sin. I testify that the Savior is able and eager to forgive our sins.What a marvelous privilege for each of us to turn away from our sins and to come unto Christ. Divine forgiveness is one of the sweetest fruits of the gospel, removing guilt and pain from our hearts and replacing them with joy and peace of conscience. Jesus declares, ‘Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?’
The Lord knows you, and He knows the desires of your heart. He alone can bring that assurance that you have been forgiven. Listen and believe Him.
Is It Possible To Forgive Yourself After Mistakes? Yes!
One of the most wonderful, hopeful messages of repentance is that we all have the opportunity to get back on the right track. Because of the Savior’s atonement, there is no mistake that cannot be healed, no burden of guilt that cannot be removed. Yes, it is difficult, but you don’t need to do it alone. Through listening to the words of the leaders, asking the help of the Bishop, serving, and asking the Lord, you can once again feel peace.