As I sat across from a member of the stake presidency, my heart started pounding. I had felt jumpy since the stake clerk had called to set an appointment. Would he know I was not worthy to serve?

I had decided that some sins would be easier to take to the judgment bar of God than to reveal here on earth, thinking it would be selfish to disclose things that would bring pain or embarrassment to my wife. Better to overcome them by myself and live with the burden. The only problem was that I couldn’t overcome them on my own.

I sat there as the counselor in the stake presidency extended a call to serve. He asked, “Brother, would you accept this calling?” How I wanted to shout, “Yes!” Instead, almost involuntarily, I heard myself say, “I cannot; I need to clear up some sins.”

Anxiety and relief poured into me simultaneously as I confessed the general nature of the sin. He asked if I had spoken with my bishop. “No.” My wife? “No.” He shook my hand, smiled, told me he was proud of me for confessing, and directed me to talk with the bishop and my wife.

I obeyed, telling my wife first—thereby eliminating my biggest fear. She still loved me! Yes, she was upset, and we would have to work out some things, but she loved me and encouraged me to visit the bishop.

When I went to see the bishop, he immediately welcomed me into his office. With difficulty, I tried to articulate why I was there. After hiding my sins so long, I hardly knew where to start. He lovingly encouraged me to come clean. I explained the general nature of my sins and asked for time to provide the full inventory of my misdeeds. He readily agreed.

I still had yet to fully confess, but I felt the weight of the world lifting from my shoulders. I also felt a renewed hope of freedom, finally, from this burden.

I spent the next weeks praying, reading the scriptures, and creating my inventory to present to both my bishop and my Heavenly Father. First I took my list to Heavenly Father, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, to let Him know I was sorry and sincerely desired to change. I set another appointment with the bishop and shared my list in its entirety. He didn’t frown, yell, or chastise me; instead, he gave me a big hug. He let me know of his love and the Lord’s love, informing me that I was now on the path of true repentance. I knew it was true.

Confessing my sins, formerly my biggest fear, became one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was the first step for me to truly understand the gift and the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.