“How can I repent and be forgiven if I don’t really feel sorry for what I’ve done?”
Open yourself to the influence of the Spirit by praying sincerely, fasting, and pondering the scriptures.
Think about how sin holds you back, destroys your peace of mind, and keeps you from feeling the Spirit. Think about how it hurts people you love.
Think about the terrible suffering the Savior willingly endured to pay for your sin.
Draw near to the Lord so that He can be near you through the repentance process.
You’re right. To truly repent, you must feel sorry for what you’ve done. Without “godly sorrow” (2 Cor. 7:10), you can’t even start the process of being forgiven. So how can you find what’s missing in your heart?
The most important thing you can do is open yourself to the influence of the Holy Ghost. As you feel the Lord’s Spirit, your heart will soften and your mind will open. You will understand the consequences of your actions, and you will experience that “broken heart and contrite spirit” necessary for repentance (2 Ne. 2:7).
Placing yourself in a position in which you can feel the Spirit will involve sincere and humble prayer. It may involve fasting. It will certainly include pondering the scriptures and trying to understand why you need to repent. Begin by considering three important truths.
The first is that sin is a dead end. It leads you away from all that makes your life joyful, both here and in eternity. It destroys peace of mind, pushes the Spirit away from you, and impedes your spiritual progression. Sin causes you pain, and it hurts others too, including those you love the most. It’s impossible to protect others from the harmful effects of your sin.
Second, Someone else has already suffered because of your sins—your Savior, Jesus Christ. As you learn more about the Atonement, you can’t help but feel sorrow for your sins. You’ll realize that your sins have added to the terrible price He had to pay in Gethsemane and on the cross. His Atonement for you caused Him so much physical and spiritual pain that He bled from every pore and asked His Father to take “the bitter cup” from Him (see D&C 19:15–19).
We are blessed beyond understanding that the Father did not release His Son from the atoning sacrifice only Jesus Christ could make. But because of that sacrifice, we can be cleansed of sin and enter into God’s presence. And that is the third truth you need to understand. Because Christ paid for your sins, all is not lost. Repentance is possible. You don’t have to carry the burden of your sin alone. God loves you and is waiting for you to accept the Savior’s Atonement and turn away from the sins that are holding you back. “Draw near unto me,” says the Lord, “and I will draw near unto you” (D&C 88:63). As you seek to draw near to the Lord and gain a deeper appreciation of His love and sacrifice for you, He will send His Spirit to help you feel not only sorrow for your sin but also the peace that comes from forgiveness.
Sorrow comes when you know you have hurt or disappointed another person with your behavior. Although sometimes it may seem as if you are not hurting anyone else, the Savior feels the pain. It is important to remember Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Repentance requires a broken heart and a contrite spirit. When you experience this sorrow, you are ready to repent. Charlotte S., 18, Ontario, Canada
Feeling remorse is the first step in repentance. I remember times in my own life when I couldn’t sense that remorse for something I had done. But I knew it was wrong because of what I had been taught. Simply knowing the sin was wrong helped me search for the desire to be better. One way is to ponder the seriousness of the sin. Picture the way your life would go if the sin were to continue. Ponder where you want to be in life in the future. Study the scriptures and pray for the desire to repent. As you build the Spirit in your life, you will feel the difference when you sin and will feel a deeper desire to become more Christlike. Danielle H., 20, Utah
Remember what the Savior did for you. Do your best to immerse yourself in things such as the scriptures, the Church, and good music that testifies of Christ. Do this and remember that our sins caused Him pain and suffering. As you grow close to the Savior, you too will not be able to look upon sin with the least degree of allowance and will feel sorrow that leads to repentance (see D&C 1:31–32). Elder Tensmeyer, 20, Montana Billings Mission
You cannot repent or be forgiven if you don’t feel sorry about what you have done. You have to know what you did, pray about it, and ask forgiveness from the Lord. Then go to the person you have hurt and ask forgiveness. Sarah B., 11, Oregon
Be sincere. Satan likes it when people don’t feel sorrow for sin because then sin becomes easier to brush off (see 2 Ne. 28:20–24). If you don’t want to be a follower of Satan, make an effort to correct the sin, big or little. Don’t take the easy way out. This will show Heavenly Father that you love Him and are striving to be a good Latter-day Saint. Jill O., 16, Utah
There is no way repentance can be effective in our life when we don’t feel sorry for what we’ve done wrong. We can be forgiven when we feel deeply sorry, regret in our heart our mistake, and make restitution for what we’ve taken from others. Then we must not do it again. Elder Akosah, 23, Nigeria Ibadan Mission
Being a teenager in today’s world is hard. The best thing is to be true to yourself and honest about your mistakes. Have faith that Heavenly Father will help you no matter what happens. Pray, read the scriptures, repent, and know that everything will turn out right in the end. Everyone makes mistakes, but we can overcome them. Fiona A., 15, Louisiana
Part of repentance is feeling sorry for what we’ve done, but sometimes we don’t feel sorry because we don’t fully understand the Atonement. Review the scriptures in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon and ask Heavenly Father to help increase your testimony. When you do, you will come to realize how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have done for us and the importance of godly sorrow in order to be truly forgiven and receive the Lord’s blessings. Brianna S., 15, Utah
“One of my friends who is active in the Church has some anti-Mormon literature and thinks we should read it so we know how to respond to it. But I find that literature disturbing. What should I tell my friend?”
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Please respond by August 15, 2006.