We’re often told that we need to forgive and forget. However, when dealing with our own past transgressions, the forgetting aspect can feel overwhelming. After all, how can we ever consciously choose to forget something? And if we do forget our sins, how can we hope to learn from our mistakes?
Forgetting a past sin isn’t the same as the everyday forgetting that keeps us from finding our keys. We don’t actually forget the transgressions that we’ve committed; we just stop letting them have any power over us. As Elder Tad R. Callister of the Seventy has said, “I do not know if we will forget our sins, but the time will come when those who repent will no longer be troubled by their sins” (“How Do I Know When I Am Forgiven?” New Era, Aug. 2012, 26).
When we fully accept the Atonement of Jesus Christ and do our part to repent of our sins, then the memory of a sin actually becomes a blessing. We are able to take important lessons from the experience and ensure that we don’t fall into the same traps.
If you find yourself reliving past sins in your mind, try to direct your mind to more positive thoughts and present matters—scripture study, service, gratitude, the good and uplifting things in your life. If you still feel guilty, then pray to Heavenly Father for peace. It’s also possible that there might be some aspect of repentance that you’ve neglected. You can always speak with your bishop or branch president if you need more help.
Pray to the Lord for peace, and then busy yourself with uplifting activities like scripture study, service, or volunteer work. Helping others with their trials is one of the best ways to feel closer to Christ. When I dwell on my past mistakes, it makes it difficult to progress and find the beauty in all the blessings I have already been given.
Hanna O., 17, Oregon, USA
Always remember God’s promises written in the scriptures. He says in Doctrine and Covenants 58:42, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” If we truly repent of our sins, God will no longer remember them. Then we don’t have to worry about those past mistakes because God will have already forgiven us.
JJ Q., 18, Virginia, USA
Repentance is hard, but finding the will to forgive yourself is harder. Continually dwelling on past mistakes keeps you from spiritual growth and receiving blessings. If the Lord has forgiven you, forgive yourself and let go of your unnecessary burden because then comes your desired peace of mind.
Emily V., 17, Alberta, Canada
What I do when I have made a mistake and can’t forget about it 100 percent is pray to God. If you feel scared to pray at first, talk with your bishop. You can also get general advice from your Young Men/Young Women leaders about prayer—they will help you, for they are your friends.
Daniel P., 16, New York, USA
If you have already sincerely repented, you are on the path to forgiveness. You can pray for peace. Since you know what you did was wrong and you keep thinking about it, you know you’ll never do it again. You can also do everything you can to make it up to the person you did wrong to.
Jennavieve F., 14, Washington, USA
I can get my answers by reading scriptures and by praying to God. Reading the scriptures helps me find answers to my questions. I seek help from my Heavenly Father to help me forget and forgive my past mistakes. Happiness and peace are the result of my prayer and scripture study.
Poojitha P., 14, India
To feel peace from a past mistake, have faith in the Lord’s wonderful and infinite Atonement. The Atonement is infinite, which means that it is never ending and it allows us to become clean of any sin, no matter how serious it may have been. [See Isaiah 1:18.]
Shawn S., 18, Arizona, USA
One way to forget about a past mistake that you’ve already repented of is to just shake out the negative thoughts about what it was and then think of better things, such as a good choice you’ve made.
Ciarrah B., 14, Washington, USA