“As I watched the tray come down my row, I couldn’t help feeling embarrassed. This Sunday would be the first time in my life I hadn’t been worthy to partake of the sacrament. The tray was quickly coming closer to me, and I was drowning in feelings. What would my parents think when I didn’t take the sacrament? My little brother and sister? I was supposed to be their example.
“When the tray came to me, I quickly passed it on, bowing my head. I felt as if everyone in the chapel was looking at me.
“The week before, I had talked to my bishop. I entered his office and started crying in shame before I even sat down. As I told him everything I had done, I thought he would be angry with me or say I had no hope of being forgiven. Instead, I noticed he was crying too. He let me know he was very pleased I had come to him. It felt good to know that he had been called by the Lord to help me with my problems. It felt good to know that I had someone to talk to while trying to apply the principles of the Atonement in my life. I knew I could trust the bishop and I could share my feelings with him.
“When I finished talking with my bishop, he told me he loved me. ‘I am going to help you as much as I can to get through your problems,’ he said. At that moment I knew everything would eventually be all right.
“My first time not taking the sacrament was hard, and I have to relive that experience every Sunday until the bishop tells me I can once again partake. But I am grateful to have the blessing of repentance in my life. I know I can be clean again through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because of this experience and the struggles I am going through, I never want to be unworthy again. Not partaking of the sacrament is hard. But it has helped me more fully appreciate my Savior’s sacrifice for me.”
Sin is an ugly thing. It makes us feel unclean, unworthy, and even embarrassed. Those feelings may make confessing our mistakes seem the most difficult part of the repentance process. Most sins need be confessed only to yourself, to the Lord, and to the person or persons injured by the transgression. Some sins, however, are of a more serious nature and must be confessed to the appropriate priesthood authority, generally the bishop or branch president. Such serious “sins include adultery, fornication, other sexual transgressions, and other sins of comparable seriousness” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness , 179). Confessing serious sins to the bishop or branch president takes sincere humility and a desire to be right with God. It is a necessary step if we are ever to be at peace with ourselves and with the Lord.
No matter what our sins, the Savior suffered for each of us, that we “might not suffer if [we] would repent” (D&C 19:16). Perhaps our love for Him is not complete until we make His sacrifice personal. President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, explained: “I feel His love and marvel at the price He paid for each of us. I wonder how many drops of blood were spilled for me” (“Special Witnesses of Christ,” Liahona, April 2001, 21).
Sometimes we may feel discouraged as we strive on our own to put our sins behind us. But the Lord is there to help us. He gives us this comforting assurance:
“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
“By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:42–43).