What repentance means

Too often we think of repentance as something miserable and depressing. But God’s plan is the plan of happiness, not the plan of misery! Repentance is uplifting and ennobling. (Stephen W. Owen, “Repentance is Always Positive”)


As a young Boy Scout our troop was going to go on a week-long backpacking trip as part of an Eagle Scout project. It was my first time packing for a campout where you had to pack all your things in. I had the idea that I needed to pack less than I would normally take on a campout, but I did a really poor job of actually cutting anything out! By the time I was done my pack was WAY too heavy for my little 12-year-old body!

The weight of it was a real problem. There was one leader that was convinced I would not survive the 3.5-mile hike with that pack on my back. We tried to take some things out that I wouldn’t need and, in the end, he decided that the only way it was going to work was for him to carry my pack for me. (He wasn’t staying, just walking up the path, helping us get set up and leaving, so he didn’t have his own pack.)

I’ve thought about that a lot since then. Someone lifting the weight off of my shoulders that I couldn’t carry myself. I needed it then. I need that more now. Now I need the weight of sin and grief lifted off by the Savior.

God lifts off the weight

David knew about the strength that came from feeling that weight come off His shoulders. He said in Psalms 32:

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.

There is a peace and “blessed”-ness in giving up our sins to God. In choosing to open up to Him, let Him in our lives and allow Him to take our sins away from us. David had learned about trying to hide his sins. He had tried to cover up things himself…and it got a lot worse! (Study the story of Bathsheba and Uriah)

In verse 5 he was taking a different path! In verse 5 he had learned that repentance is the best way to get to blessed! He decided to not hide from God but to confess and receive the blessed forgiveness God is anxious to give us.

God wants to forgive you.

John reminded us that God is anxiously waiting to forgive us in 1 John 1:

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Isaiah taught the same principle in Isaiah 1:

18 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.

And in our modern day the Lord promised us in D&C 58:

42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

There is no reason to keep walking up the path of your life with the pack on your back that is too heavy. There is no need to keep struggling when there is eternal love, grace, kindness, and compassion waiting to help you lift the pack you are carrying.

There is so much hope in the words of Elder Own in October 2017 conference that I quoted at the beginning. Here is more of what he said,

“We can try to change our behavior on our own, but only the Savior can remove our stains and lift our burdens, enabling us to pursue the path of obedience with confidence and strength. The joy of repentance is more than the joy of living a decent life. It’s the joy of forgiveness, of being clean again, and of drawing closer to God. Once you’ve experienced that joy, no lesser substitute will do.” (Stephen W. Owen, “Repentance is Always Positive”)

This week, take off the pack and hand it to Jesus. Let him carry the pain and the hurt. He’s already paid the price and is anxious to take that pack off your back and carry it for you.

Feel that happiness and relief today.