I am going to tell you about my very first real experience with true grace in my life. I was around 27-28 years old. And had a growing, flourishing family. I had 4 children that were under the age of around 8.
I had struggled with depression for some time at this point and quite frankly,I just needed a break from all the chaos just for a little while. It was a beautiful Sunday morning And so I did something that I really never did at that time. I faked sick and had my husband take the children to church.
I really didn’t fake it totally. Depression is most definitely a sickness. But on this particular day, I just felt like if I didn’t get a break, I wasn’t going to make it one more day. Just to be clear, I was not suicidal, I just needed time to regroup. And 3 glorious hours to myself, sounded heavenly! At that time in the history of our church we spent 3 hours on the sabbath worshipping our Savior in the church building.
I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints, and so I’d had many experiences learning about repentance, forgiveness and grace. But had only applied it to my life in a few instances. I thought that repentance was for the really wrong things that you had done in your life, not something that I needed to do on a continual basis. I know, pretty naive.
Now I feel like repentance, forgiveness, and grace, are kind of like learning to ride a bike. At first it might be difficult and you may be a little wobbly and require trainging wheels to begin with. But once you learn, and those training wheels come off, you never forget the feeling of freedom you have, I know that because I was a bit of a slow learner.
I didn’t learn to ride a bike without training wheels until I was about 7 and all my friends had already learned. It was one of my best friends in the neighborhood who taught me how on her little red bike. I had gotten a cool shwinn with a basket for Christmas but it was a bit big for me still, which I think is why it took me longer. My friend Shelly, was so patient. She taught me how to balance and get my footing. She would walk with me each time we tried. And when I fell, she would get on the bike and show me the way again.
It wasn’t long before she was running beside me to catch me if I fell. But I had it down now, I was so proud! It was an exhilarating feeling, the wind in my hair and the gratitude that comes with accomplishment of something difficult.
Now let’s go back to Sunday that I faked sick. Just to give a little context, I had been a bit of a wild teenager. I had some rebellious years where I made a lot of stupid choices, as teenagers sometimes do. But by this time I had already taken care of those experiences through the repentance process. But I had a hard time forgiving myself for the stupid choices that I made during that time in my life. It seemed it would crop up and make me feel like I didn’t take care of it properly, or that I somehow wasn’t worthy to have the grace promised by the Savior.
Of course now I know, that all of that was just the adversary trying to keep me from moving forward and progressing. He really does that! He will try everything, especially when you are being obedient to the covenants that you have made with the Lord. His greatest joy is to have power over you.
On that Sunday morning, I happened to be feeling especially unworthy, I had just skipped church for no good reason. And made my husband take on that responsibility, knowing that it would be difficult to keep all 4 children under control and get them to where they needed to be, when it was time to go to Sunday school and primary. That’s what we call the worship for all our little children in our faith.
The longer it went the more guilty I felt. Even though it was a small thing, Satan began to work on me bringing up all the mistakes of the past and my mistakes and failings as a young parent.
Finally I opened up my scriptures and in the front of it, nicely folded from age. Was a blessing that in my church we receive at some point in our lives that we feel is given for direction and to help guide us here in our life on this side of the veil. It is something that we hold very sacred, specifically given to us, and not to be shared lightly with others. I hadn’t read mine in quite some time. I picked up the worn piece of paper and began to read. The words on the page seemed to jump out at me. Even though I’d read it dozens of times. Nuggets of wisdom and strength poured into my worn out mind and even my physical body. I began to highlight specific phrases and was guided to the parts that made me realize that though I had made all of those mistakes years ago and had taken care of it with the Lord. I never forgot about it.
In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, we read, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Again, in the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 42, which came with great force to my mind, we read, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
That scripture came into my mind with such force and I knew that the Lord was telling me, it’s time to forget those things. I have forgotten them, now it’s your turn to forgive yourself. He promises us that through the holy ghost He will bring all things to our remembrance. And at that time I needed to remember that his grace will always be there to catch me when I fall.
I don’t need the training wheels anymore, once I’ve taken them off and released that burden, I can fly forward and go as far and as fast as I want, as long as I remember that His grace will always be with me. His grace is sufficient.
Forgiving ourselves for the stupid choices that we make is one of the most glorious parts of grace that the Savior gives us. Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
Today my invitation to you is to take that thing that’s holding you back and like the training wheels, throw it out. It is of no use to you anymore. You are His, and He is yours!
Have a great weekend my friends and I will catch you all again next week!