20: “They Were Called the People of God”
Have you ever felt “harrowed” by your sins? Or maybe “harrowed” at the thought of confessing your sins? In this week’s study group, we turn to Mosiah 18-24 to dig into the ins and outs of repentance. We learn from Alma the younger’s experience to see what role confession plays, how we can embrace those who have sinned, and most importantly, how those harrowing feelings don't need to last.
Quote from Elder Neil. L. Andersen: “Repentance is not punishment or oppression. It is just the opposite. It is a wondrous gift from God that will bring joy to the sorrowful and relief to the spiritually infirm” (Elder Neil L. Andersen, The Divine Gift of Forgiveness).
Learning Exercise: Mark every time the Lord uses the words: My, Mine, Me, and I, in Mosiah 26:17-30.
African Proverb: "The child that is not embraced by its community will burn the village to feel its warmth."
How often will the Lord forgive us?
How will the Lord forgive us?
The 5 R's of Repentance:
The scripture Tammy’s mission president shared with her:
Why do we need to confess?
1 Corinthians 10:13 illustrates that no sin we commit is so awful that it will surprise our Heavenly Father.
"13 There hath no temptation ataken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be btempted above that ye are able; but will with the ctemptation also make a way to descape, that ye may be able to ebear it."
Leviticus 5 teaches that confession was an important step in the repentance process. It was required along with a trespass offering in order to receive forgiveness. The word in Hebrew that is translated into "trespass" also means "guilt" (see biblehub.com).
Examples of Shame vs. Guilt:
Shame: “I am a bad person.”
Guilt: “I did something bad.”
What does the Lord tell Joseph Smith after he lost the manuscript?
Alma's Repentance Experience:
"29 My soul hath been aredeemed from the gall of bitterness and bbonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was cracked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is dpained no more" (Mosiah 27:28-29).
Cross Reference with: Alma 36:17-19
Definitions of Words in Mosiah 27:28-29:
Gall: Poisonous or bitter plant, see Deuteronomy 29:18.
Racked: Means tortured, pulled apart, affected with extreme pain or anguish, as racked with deep despair (see webstersdictionary1828.com).
Harrowed (used in Alma 36): "An instrument of agriculture, formed of pieces of timber sometimes crossing each other, and set with iron teeth. It is drawn over plowed land to level it and break the clods, and to cover seed when sown" (see webstersdictionary1828.com).
The story of the prodigal son is found in: Luke 15
Teshuva is the Hebrew word for repentance (see chabad.org). It is written using symbols that each carry individual meanings.
Tav: Covenant or crossing
Shin: Jagged teeth
Christ raises Lazarus from the Dead in: John 11:1-46
“It is true that fear can have a powerful influence over our actions and behavior. But that influence tends to be temporary and shallow. Fear rarely has the power to change our hearts, and it will never transform us into people who love what is right and who want to obey Heavenly Father.
"People who are fearful may say and do the right things, but they do not feel the right things. They often feel helpless and resentful, even angry. Over time these feelings lead to mistrust, defiance, even rebellion....
“...The more I come to know my Heavenly Father, the more I see how He inspires and leads His children. He is not angry, vengeful, or retaliatory.4 His very purpose—His work and His glory—is to mentor us, exalt us, and lead us to His fulness” (Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear,” General Conference, April 2017).
Alma’s Joy after repenting:
"My soul hath been aredeemed from the gall of bitterness and bbonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was cracked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is dpained no more."
Elder Richard G Scott taught Tammy and other seminary teachers in conjunction with the verses above, to “teach your students that they are not second-class citizens when they use the Atonement of Jesus Christ!”
How were the sons of Mosiah originally described?
"And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very avilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite bmercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever."
What kind of people did the sons of Mosiah become?
"17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto aMoroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the bdevil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
“The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … It just heals, and what it heals stays healed...The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that...The Atonement...can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated” (Boyd K Packer, “The Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, May 2015, 28).
When I was a teenager, there was no way I was ever going to see my Bishop about anything. There's no way I'm going in except for my yearly interview and to get my piece of candy because I knew exactly how it worked. I knew that if I ever went in to see my Bishop about anything, every Sunday he'd look down at me from the podium and think "I know what you did you little jerk, and I'm going to tell your mom and you're probably going to get grounded."
So I decided that I could just pray really, really hard every night and tell God that I was superduper sorry for all the stupid things I've done. Well, that worked kind of, but my knowledge of repentance was so steeped in fear and shame and guilt that I actually didn't fully understand how to repent until I was two months into my mission. Today we are going to talk about repentance. I'll finish my own personal story with repenting and we will see that Satan's greatest success isn't getting us to sin, it's keeping us from the healing power of repentance.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living where we take the "Come, Follow Me" lesson for the week and really dig into our scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall. Now, I know most of you have heard the drill before, but I just want to make sure that anyone who's new, who's joining us for the first time knows a few things. So if you're new to our study group, there are two ways you can use this podcast. You can either listen to the whole thing all at once and pound out your scripture study in one day, or you can listen a little each day, and we've built it specifically to help you do that.
We've divided it into six segments that are about 10 to 12 minutes long, and we put a little music in between the segments, so you'll recognize the end. And actually, for those of you old timers, we'd love to know how you're using this podcast. We're going to have a poll on our Instagram stories, and we're gonna post it in our Facebook group this week asking how you use it, and we're so excited to see what's working for you, so please tell us. And now, for my favorite part of each episode, I get to introduce you to my friends who are here to study with us, and today I have Fiona Givens and Aliah Hall. Hi friends.
Oh, I'm so excited. Now, Aliah, we've had you several times and I just, I thought you would be the perfect person, as a therapist to talk to us about these topics of repentance and shame and guilt. And then Fiona, you've made it your life's mission to study and write about a God who weeps with us and a Christ who heals, right?
Yes. Thank you.
Oh, and Fiona, I just have to say this about Fiona, she's my travel buddy. We got to travel last year together at Timeout for Women and it was my favorite to travel with you because no one loves food as much as you and I do. We would eat together. Oh my favorite was when we ate in Boise, Idaho.
It was really delicious.
And we had two desserts didn't we?
I know and we would always have each other's backs too. When we would go out to dinner with friends later that night, we'd look at each other and we'd know we were both done and ready to go back to the hotel room. And we'd be like, "Okay, see you later." That was our cue, we both knew each other. We were finished. So, okay, I'm so happy to have you guys here. Now for those of you listening, if you want to know what my friends look like and know a little bit more about them, we have their pictures and bios on our website and you can find that at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday.
This is the repentance lesson. Now if you're inclined to think, "Oh good, this is exactly what my son, my husband, my daughter, etc needs to hear." I want to make sure that we understand this lesson is for all of us. This episode is for you. It's for me. This episode is for all of God's children, and I feel privileged, so privileged, to be with these two women today to talk about the topic of repentance. So friends, grab your scriptures, and let's dig in.
Here we go.
All right, Aliah and Fiona, I want you to finish this sentence for me. Repentance is...
A return to Christ.
I would say that repentance is the twin principle to forgiveness.
And for me, I think in order to understand repentance, we need to understand what sin is and what sin is not. My concern is that because our church was birthed in a very radically Lutheran Protestant tradition that we are still using the same vocabulary, which is very harmful. The only way to truly transform culture is to create culture, and the only way to create culture is to develop a new vocabulary, restoration vocabulary. So I think those understanding what sin really is, and comes to understand what repentance is, which is what Aliah was saying.
I love that you said that Fiona because I want to like raise my hand and say "amen" to that. Like we really do not have the vocabulary for repentance and forgiveness and guilt and shame. And like I deal with that on a daily basis in the work that I do. Like part of it is like helping people work through that but part of it is just giving them different language. Our church history came from a very Protestant, very pure Puritan history and we brought a lot of that with us.
And our theology is not that way, our theology is so much more positive. I've been reading a lot of things on atonement right now. But essentially punishment is huge, and the atonement was on the cross where Christ was punished, took our punishment in order to forgive our sins, but that's not LDS theology at all.
It was necessary for Christ to die in order that he might rise again. And he's so explicitly saying, "I have not come to condemn the world. So why are you condeming each other?" You know, "Because I have come to bring a life," and so if we can change our vocabulary and reorientate ourselves back to the prime motive for Christ's mission, then I think this will help us very much.
When I wrote that setence, "Finish this sentence repentance is..." your answers were beautiful. In my mind, I thought, "Repentance is scary. Repentance is... uh depends on which side you're on," like, going into it or coming out of it. And I read in Elder Neil L. Anderson's book, "The Divine Gift of Forgiveness," which is so good, it's new. And he says in it, "Here's what it isn’t, it isn't a punishment”. And that goes with what you were just saying, Fiona, is that repentance isn't a punishment. And sometimes we like you said, we get steeped in this idea that we're being punished for the things and we have to go through this repentance process.
Today we're going to be studying Mosiah chapter 25 through 28, and a little background to these chapters is the people of Alma and the people of Limhi I have been freed, and they're finally able to believe as they want, and they've all come back to the land of Zarahemla to live with Mosiah and his people, and it's a great time. And during this time, Mosiah makes Alma head over all of the people and he's going to be their judge. We don't have judges yet but he's going to basically be in charge of judging these people, and there's this faction, this group of kids and people who weren't very old during King Benjamin's address, and who weren't maybe even alive during it to hear what he had to say, and they started to disbelieve in everything that their parents were teaching.
And as a result, they started sinning, and Mosiah and Alma were like, "Well, what do we do with all these people who are sinning?" And Mosiah turned to Alma and said, "I'm going to give that to you, like you're in charge, let's figure out how we're going to do that." Let's go to Mosiah chapter 26. Start in verse 17, and go to verse 30. And I want you to highlight or mark every time you see the Lord say, "my, mine, me, I," any first person use in these verses, because there's something significant about this. This is the Lord speaking to Alma, and Alma says, "Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, I don't know how to judge these people. I don't even know what to do." And this is what the Lord has to say to them. I want you to pause the podcast so you can do this. So go do that and then come back.
Okay, now that you've marked all of those, I have a question for Aliah and Fiona. You can see that many times the Lord uses this pronoun. Now my question is, what do all of the "my, I, and me's" tell us about the Lord's place in the repentance process?
My take from the use of a personal pronoun is that Christ is trying to say that, "I am or should be central to this changing of heart, this returning to our Heavenly parents, and also the appeal to the community." I think it's really interesting that when Alma takes the issue of the boys who have been going around and trying to pull people away from the Church, that King Mosiah says, "I will not judge them." And this is a theocracy. So he has every power to do just that, but I think him saying, "I am not going to judge," helps frame the paradigm in which Alma works.
And Alma works to include the community is absolutely crucial, is the community's prayers and fasting in behalf of the boys, they are not excluded from the community, and I think that's really important. This idea that you are loved, that the love has not changed, that God has said that he loves you, absolutely. And then in Romans eight we have those beautiful verses that there is nothing, nothing in heaven on earth or underneath the earth that can come between you and the love of God. So when those things are emphasized, I think we empower that it's okay, we can get through this, and we'll get through it together.
I want to go back a little bit to like verse one and two where, you know, they're talking about the rising generation and that they didn't hear the things that Benjamin said, and they were little children and they were, you know, concerned. And I think about that as a mom because I'm like, "How do I make sure that my kids have a testimony? How do I make sure that they don't fall away from the Church?" Like I think about that all of the time, like, but as you asked, Tammy, like, "Why does he use like 'me, mine?'" Because Heavenly Father is saying, like, he's saying it to Alma, and he's saying it to Mosiah. He's like, "These are my children."
He's like, "As much as they are your children, these are also my children, you know, and I am also concerned for them, and I am also thinking about this, and I am also in this work with you." And there's this beautiful African proverb that talks about like the child that is not embraced by the community will burn the village to feel its warmth. And I think that that is so true that when we do not, when people are doing the wrong thing or whatever, that it's time to embrace them, it's time to draw them close and to draw them near.
Aliah, I love that you pointed that out. And going along with what Fiona said, that's a paradigm shift for a lot of us, especially who are parents, because we're inclined to turn inward and think, "What did I do wrong? How did I fail my child? What didn't I teach them?" And to be reminded that, "Oh, these are his children, he loves them so much, and he cares about them and he wants them to feel his warmth." And that comes through all of us. So I just I love that you pointed that out.
Would it be okay if I shared a personal story about that?
So um, one of my children, many years ago, was engaging in very unhealthy, injurious behavior that was affecting not only himself, but the family, and I remember doing the same thing, you know, "How have I failed him?" And, "We didn't have enough..." you know, I went through the list. "We didn't have enough family home evenings. We didn't have enough family prayers. We didn't have enough four a.m. scripture study before seminary." You know, I went on and on and on and then finally, you know, at the end of my tether, I went to the temple hoping that I would receive some... well, something peaceful, something spiritual, and there was nothing, nothing at all.
It was on my drive back home, and a voice asked me a question. The voice in my head said, asked, "Fiona, did you not know that I knew that you were dysfunctional when I sent my children to you?" And it's like, how do you answer that question without being extremely rude? So I'm trying, I'm struggling with this question, and then the other... there was another question, and the question was, "Have you loved your children?"
And I could say, "Yes, I do love my children to the greatest of my ability. Despite my inability to be the mother of the year or anything close to that, I have loved my children." And then the response was, "That's all I have asked you to do, and he is my child, and thank you. I'll take it from here."
That changed my life. It's okay. God is good. And so for me, this is where community and family becomes so important. It's the increase of love because there is injury involved, so your child is hurt. And so, when there is this increase of love, "I love you no matter what." Then there is a safe space for the child and more confidence of returning. But if we push the child away, then the shame and the guilt and the feeling that "I am no good and I can become no better" increases. But when we enfold our children in our embrace and say, "It does not matter, I love you. I will love you. I have loved you always, and I will love you forever more," than we are speaking I think like the Savior would.
Oh Fiona, thank you so much. Thank you for sharing that. What's so beautiful about that story is that love is always involved in the repentance process. And so in the next segment, we're going to talk about how to repent and what that looks like in our regular lives.
Segment 2 14:53
All right ladies, how many times are we allowed to repent? That's what we need to know.
Oh, I think all the time. I think repentance is a way of helping our lives change with the Lord's help, well primarily the Holy Spirit. We don't bring the Holy Spirit in very often, but I do think that repentance is hugely the territory of the Holy Spirit, and so as we work to change our lives, we're doing that all the time.
All the time. So you're saying we can repent all the time?
I know in the scriptures it says that you can get like 70 times 7 or something like that, but I always tell my kids that "you only get to repent once, but it's your whole life long."
Let's look at Mosiah chapter 26, verse 30. I like this verse and what it says. We have two verses we're going to read, Mosiah chapter 26 verse 30. Aliah, will you read that for us?
"Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me."
That's so great. "As often as they, as often as my people repent." But you know, and that's a lot for me "often." Now turn the page back and go to verse 22 because I like how it says how he'll forgive us. So Mosiah chapter 26, verse 22. And read that one too for us because I like how it describes how he'll forgive us.
"For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive."
Highlight that in your scriptures the very end, how will he forgive us?
What does that mean? "He'll freely forgive us."
Well I think this is what you know Fiona was saying before like, our Heavenly Father is not in the business of punishment. Like that's not his prime directive, that's not what he's looking for. He's not like, "How can I you know, how can I punish these terrible children I have?"
Like that's not what he's here for, you know, he's here to love us and to help us and to guide us. And like anybody who has kids, well maybe not anybody who has kids, but most people have kids like, I'm like I'm not trying to punish my kids, I'm not trying to figure out ways to like make their life miserable. My mom was the absolute best at this probably to a fault, like she was such a funny weapon and we could do no wrong, like the sun rose and set in her children's eyes. And like we would always joke like, "Oh, we could murder somebody and mom would be like, 'Oh, but look, how about a good job they did.'"
"Look how good they did loading the dishwasher."
"Nobody will ever find that body." Like she was just so proud of us. At least for me, I don't know about my siblings, but it gave me like such a good example of like Heavenly Father and then like how he loves me and like how he forgives me because there was like, she was like, "Well, I'm a little bit disappointed but you know, not too bad." You know, and like, "Keep moving. It's okay. We'll keep going, we're okay."
I just think that's absolutely beautiful, and well sin for me is injury it is woundedness. I think there's a beautiful description of it in First Nephi 17:32, this idea of "woundedness." So whenever we do something wrong, it is harmful and we tend to retreat, retreat it into ourselves, we think "that was wrong." And so with Aliah's Mum, and that absolute love, when we feel that, it gives us strength and when we feel how good that feels no longer to be feeling wounded or injured, then we will look for patterns and we will look for things and do things that will keep us in that beautiful circle of love where we do not feel we need to retreat, and I think that's the beautiful thing of repentance is that it encourages that, "Okay, I feel good. Okay, so what did I do? Well, I want to keep feeling good."
So it takes time. It's a lifelong, absolutely, a lot of repentance, it's a lifelong thing. But as you, as you feel the joy of the redemption, you want to feel more of it, and so it's this beautiful, lovely, gentle tutorial throughout our lives with a Holy Spirit leading and guiding us.
I loved that you said that Fiona because I think that like we always strive to be the people that our mom thought we were.
So tell me Aliah and Fiona, what does this idea that he freely forgives us teach us about God and our Savior?
Well, I think we feel that repentance is not free and that God's love is not free, and that we need to work for it, and if we stepped away from it, we need penance. This idea it's still in our minds and penances is always punitive, but the "freely" is to my mind anyway, that it is there, "please partake of it, I give it to you freely. I am not asking that you go through a litmus test and the stages of things," although they may help people, but this idea is that when you repent, "My love is freely given, it was there always to begin with, you just did not recognize that it was."
You know, I like that you brought that up Fiona because we do so often teach that there are steps of repentance. There's the "five R's" -- recognition, remorse, restitution, reformation, and resolution. And while we can get hooked up on those, one of the things we need to know is all five of those steps are found in the story of Alma the younger, but I think it's so much more than just going through each step, it's not a checklist because I think it's interesting that in the story, he actually doesn't go through each step in order. They're all over the place.
And so it's important to look for those, but as we talk about how to repent, my question would be if someone came to you and asked you, "What do I do first?" What would you recommend?
I think it's important to be able to discern where the injury is, is the injury just with yourself? I think it'd be a conversation so, "You're feeling wounded, you've come to me. So what do you think? What are the things that you think that you need to do to be able to heal? If you've injured somebody else, then there is healing I think can only become..." We can only progress insofar as we forgive and are forgiven, and that is hugely important when we understand that. And so, to go to the person and say, "I am so sorry I wounded you." This happened to me just a while ago.
A friend of mine had been carrying this pain and this injury because she thought she had hurt me. I don't like to cook. I have an aversion to cooking and I'm not really good at it. I manage to keep my children alive.... But anyway, so we had invited this couple over for dinner and it's always anxiety inducing. My mom threw the best parties, but we were all wrecks at the end of it. So whenever it's, especially having people over, it's huge anxiety. Well, they forgot to come, and she carried with her, she thought that I was really offended, and she carried this with her for years. And then we met each other recently, and she just burst into tears, and she said, "I am so sorry." And I just held her and I said, "You did nothing wrong." It gives the person an opportunity to to say, "There was no offense, and if there was offense, I love you freely." Does that make any sense at all?
Yes, it does. Being loved freely. And Aliah, for you with little kids, you know, you've talked about how you you've taught your children how often can they repent? Once their whole lives. But what are you saying to your children who... What do they do? What are the steps they take? Is there anything specific?
I think we have like at the beginning of this conversation, I called repentance and forgiveness like twin virtues because they go together, but they are different. That what we do to repent, and what we do to get forgiveness are two very different things. Like we repent for us, so that we no longer have to carry around that wound. Our Heavenly Father forgives us freely. He's like, "The moment that you," and it says this in the Scriptures, like, "The moment that you have the thought that like, 'I don't want to do that anymore,' or 'I'm sorry,' he's like, 'You're forgiven.'" But repentance is for us so that we can let go of it. So that we can let go of the wounds so that we can let go of the heaviness so that we can let go of the guilt and the shame and whatever other rocks we stuck in our backpack. You know, forgiveness is for us, we're not doing the steps of forgiveness for Heavenly Father, he doesn't need that.
Okay, here's what I love Aliah, I love that you said, "It is for us. It's a way for us to let go." And, you know, I'm being totally transparent, one of the things that I didn't realize when I was a teenager is that I think the hardest part about repentance is the confession part. And I didn't realize when I was older that that is the part that we need the most that helps us to let go, and so we're going to talk about confession in the next segment, and why it's so important in the process of repenting.
Segment 3 24:55
At the very beginning, I started with my own experience in the repentance process, and I can tell you if I had known everything that we'd been discussing today, when I was 12, it probably would have changed my perception of repentance. So when I was in the MTC, I survived the MTC, and boy do they work on you hard to confess and forsake and all sorts of things. You know, they would tell us, "Go talk to the MTC branch president," or whatever, whoever's in charge, and I'm like, "I'm good. I've already repented." And then I went on my mission, and my mission president would always say at every meeting we had, "If anyone needs to, he called it 'kick a can around the block,' call me if there's something you need to take care of that you didn't before you came, call me, and we can kick a can.'" And I can remember thinking, "No, I'm good. I don't need to kick a can."
And I got on my mission, and the first two weeks of my mission were probably the worst two weeks of my entire life because as I would sit and teach people about the Savior Jesus Christ and about the repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the only thing that would play in my mind was, the thoughts kept popping in, "You're so disgusting. God hates you. How do you even deserve to be here? You're a hypocrite. You're so foul, go home, nobody wants you here." And it just kept playing over and over in my mind that at the end of the two-week period, I knew I needed to kick a can. And my companion went to bed that night and I stayed up all night reading my scriptures and crying my eyeballs out thinking, "They're gonna send me home tomorrow when I tell my mission president the things I've done."
At 6:30 a.m. my companion woke up and saw me sitting on the bed eyes bloodshot, and asked me what was wrong, and I said, "I need to kick a can around the block, and they're going to send me home." And she said, "They're not, you just need to call the mission president, you're going to be fine." So I called my mission president who I adore, and I said, "Hi, President Bot, it's Sister Uzelac." And he goes, "Hi, what do you need?" And he's probably one of the most gruff men ever. I said, "I need to kick a can around the block." And he said, "Great, I'll be there in 20 minutes." Click. Like not even a "How you doing? Good to hear from you." Truly, 20 minutes later, there was a knock at the door. And he said, "Alright, Sister Uzelac, let's go. Get out in the driveway," and my companion at the time was Sister Gee, and he said, "Sister Gee, you stay in the house, you're on Holy Ghost splits, you're going to be fine. No one's gonna hurt you." Isn't that great? Holy Ghost splits. "You're gonna be fine, no one's gonna hurt you, lock the door."
So we get out in the driveway, and he says, "Okay, this is how it works. You're going to tell me everything, just start telling me everything that's been on your mind and what you're struggling with." And I just sobbed like a baby, and I said, "I can't." And he said, "Why can't you? What's your problem?" And I said, "You're going to hate me. As soon as I tell you everything, you're going to think I'm the most disgusting person you've ever met, you're going to hate me. And every time you see me, you'll think that," and he said, "Oh, Sister Uzelac, you're such a dummy." And he really did say that, he was so funny. He goes, "You're such a dummy. You don't even know how to repent." And I go, "Yeah, that's why I'm here."
And he said, "Go inside and get your scriptures." So I went back in the apartment, I came back out with my scriptures, and out there in the driveway, he said, "Turn to Doctrine and Covenants section 58." So I turned to there, and I got to Section 58 and he said, "Okay, I want you to read verses 42 and 43." So I started reading them silently to myself, and then he said, "I want you to read them out loud Sister Uzelac." So I did.
"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."
And I looked up at him and I go, "I am confessing. Oh I am. I'll tell you stuff, and I did forsake like I was stupid, I was a little kid, I didn't know," and I just kept going on and on like you know the kid from Goonies, "And then Momma," it's just so dumb. And he said, "Sister Uzelac, you missed the most important verse. Look at verse 42 again." And I did and I read it again out loud, "Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more."
And he said, "Sister Uzelac, why in the world would God give a puny man like me more power than he has?" And I said, "What are you talking about?" And he said, "Well, if God doesn't remember the sins anymore, why is he gonna let me?" and I said, "Woah woah woah, wait a minute. Are you telling me you're not gonna remember anything I tell you?" He's like, "Nope, I don't. I don't, I don't remember anything. I remember sometimes people come to see me but I don't know what they told me. And I can sometimes remember things people told me but I don't know who told it to me." And I looked at my mission President and I said, "Alright, let's do this." And we walked around the block and talked, and we got back to the driveway, and he said, "Is that everything Sister Uzelac?" And I said, "No, it's not," and we went around the block again, and we got back to the driveway, and he said, "Is that everything?" And I said, "It is," and he looked at me and he just said, "You're forgiven. You were a long time ago, and you just wasted two weeks of your mission."
And I'm sobbing because I'm thinking I wasted 15 years of my life carrying that sack of sin. And this idea of the confession part, it was so powerful to me because in Mosiah chapter 26, verses 35 and 36 talks about the need of confession. And this can be so scary for so many people. I mean, it scared me out of it, until I was 21 years old. So let's go to Mosiah chapter 26, verses 35 and 36, and read these two verses, and we're going to talk about why confession is so necessary. Alright, Fiona, will you please read Mosiah chapter 26 verses 35 and 36.
"And whosoever repented of their sins and did confess them, them he did number among the people of the church;"
"And those that would not confess their sins and repent of their iniquity, the same were not numbered among the people of the church, and their names were blotted out."
That idea of confession, why is it so important? Why would the scripture say, "We have to confess," and why can't I just pray my way back to goodness?
So previously, we kind of talked about, you know, a vocabulary problem, and I think this is a vocabulary problem. We use the word "confess" and I would like to change that word to "share." Because what I... and this is science because I love science, there's a concept in group therapy and in individual therapy as well called universalism. And what happens when you get a group of people together for group therapy is they start telling their stories, confessing, you know, when they started sharing their story. And the number one determiner of like success in group therapy is this concept of universalism, and what people report is that hearing somebody else say, "Oh, this thing happened to me." And then they are like, "Oh, it's not just me. I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm not the only one who thinks this way. I'm not the only one who have done these things." That is the healing thing. That that's like the rest of group therapy is just like icy and it's just like hanging out with nice people and chit chatting.
But the thing that really makes the difference in group therapy, and even an individual therapy, is this idea of sharing and then not feeling alone. And so a lot of time even in individual therapy, like people come in and they're like, "Oh, I think this terrible thing or I feel this terrible thing." And I'm like, "Yeah, lots of people do." I mean, I don't say it like that, but I'm like, "What you're thinking and feeling is a normal human experience." And they're like, "Really?" And I'm like, "Yeah, you know, I've talked to lots of people and I've done this for a long time, and I've heard this story that you're telling me a lot." And they're like, "Really?" And I'm like, "Yeah," and they're like, "So I'm not weird?" "No." "I'm not crazy?" "No, you're normal."
Because I really think God thinks like that, and the scripture in First Corinthians chapter 10 verse 13, where he says, "There hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man." Like God gets it, like yeah there's no sin you're going to commit where God's gonna go, "Oh I did not see that coming. That's a new one." Like, he totally gets it and it almost seems like the sharing part of it, confession but sharing, there are therapeutic properties in that that maybe it's more for us than it is for God. Is that true?
Yeah so we can again that idea of that that we can put it down, that we don't have to carry it around and think like, "Oh, I'm the only one who's done this. I'm the only one who feels this way. I'm the only one who has messed up like this." And in the perfect situation, you know, every bishop and stake president and you know, mission president would have done just what yours did and you know and listened and listened and been like, "You're good," like, "You're normal. Those things happen," you know, "And you can put that down now."
Well maybe a way that we can then rewrite it or rephrase it is in that Doctrine and Covenants scripture, instead of "confessing and forsaking," it could be "share and forsake."
"Share and put down."
Share and put down, share and stop, absolutely.
Different vocabulary, it's a vocabulary for our time because that is what our young people that's what we respond to "share and put it away... and then forget it, it's gone."
Absolutely. This is beautiful because I, you know me, I love the Old Testament, it's my favorite, and so immediately I went into that the ritual that they would perform is when they would commit sin in Old Testament time, they would then come to the tabernacle and offer a trespass offering. And that has always intrigued me because one of the first things you have to do before you can even bring your offering, is you have to share, but it actually says "confess." I'm going to change that word now.
You have to confess before you can even bring your animal, it's one of the main requirements. So once you have confessed, or once you have shared, then you may ask to be forgiven of this trespass offering, but the word "trespass" in Hebrew, and you can find this in Leviticus chapter five, the word "trespass" is "guilt." It's a guilt offering. Now this word is so interesting because we talk about feeling guilt versus shame, and so in the next segment, we're going to talk about those two words and the role that they play on our psyche.
Segment 4 34:54
Shame and guilt. We have to talk about these two things if we're going to talk about the repentance process because I will tell you, I carried shame forever. I didn't really carry guilt, and the difference in my mind is that shame says, "I'm a bad person," but guilt says, "I did a bad thing." And I wasn't able to think, "I did a bad thing," I just focused on, "I'm a bad person," until I was 21 years old. So tell me what do you think? What is the role that shame plays on our ability to repent or not repent?
So KaRyn and I are really good friends and both of us love Brene Brown, and we call her "Auntie Brene."
Yes, and that's KaRyn, our producer. And Fiona, what about you? Do you like Brene Brown?
Oh she's brilliant.
And she talks about this topic so often, the difference between shame and guilt, and it's exactly what you said Tam. You know, shame is "I am something bad," and guilt is "I did something bad." Shame is corrosive, it is condemning, it is heart wrenching, like it makes you feel apart from yourself, from other people. It is a useless feeling. It is a useless emotion, like get rid of it. Guilt on the other hand is "I did something bad," and I love what you said about "the guilt offering or the trespass offering" because how the offerings happen is that you share your guilt. In biblical times you would put your guilt on this animal, and they would take this animal away and do what they did with the animal, and your guilt was gone. Like you took it off with the animal. Done. You're done.
Yeah, let's be clear, there's no shame offering in the Old Testament.
Yeah there's no shame offering, and even in the guilt offering like, "I did something bad. Here's an animal, you know, do whatever it is you do in the..." I mean, we know, but I don't want to get graphic...
And then you let the animal go, you let it go.
And we're done. Guilt done.
I'm reminded both of Alma's conversion here in the Book of Mormon and how closely it parallels Paul's conversion in the New Testament, and I find that absolutely fascinating.
Same wording. You know, a light comes and "why are you persecuting me?" And so we go through this and then what happens? I mean, they are so filled with love and light that they immediately go out to share the good news of the gospel, and that to me is an indication there is no shame there. They have moved on, they are convinced that Christ loves them, and particularly for Paul, I mean, the verb "destroy" is used for both of them, but Paul's destroying him physically, and Alma's destroying him spiritually. I'm not entirely sure which is worse, but they're both in business of destruction. And it's pretty terrible, but they come out of that experience with the Lord, with the light, just pumped, you know, "I am ready to go." So you know that there is no shame there because it's immediate. They turn around and they immediately, "Let me tell you about Christ. Let me tell you about the resurrection."
Not only is there no shame there, but once they have that experience, there's no guilt there either. They let it go. You know, there's no thought of like, "I am a terrible person." And no thought of like, "I have done something so horrible, I can't come back." They're like, "I did a horrible thing. I shared it with the Lord. He said, 'I'm good.' I'm going out there and I'm back 100%, and I'm running."
Aliah, I love that you brought that idea in that "I'm back." Like, "Here I am. I'm ready to go." Let's go to Doctrine and Covenants section 78 verse 10 because I love this verse. And I said at the very beginning that Satan's greatest joy, I mean, his greatest accomplishment isn't getting us to sin, it's getting us to not repent. Like part of sinning is part of life. We all knew that when we came here, we're going to sin, no one is not going to sin, and we have to remember that. And so the idea though the Satan doesn't want us to repent, that is key. And I like this verse in Doctrine and Covenants section 78 verse 10, and I'll read this.
It says, "Otherwise Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them."
I want you to highlight the word "truth" right there. We're not talking about the truth of the gospel, the truth is John 14 verse six, the truth is Christ, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." So Satan seeks to turn our hearts away from Jesus Christ that we don't even understand the things which have been prepared for us. That we just fall into this depths of despair thinking "all hope is lost," which is why I love so much the story of Joseph Smith you know, the first big thing he does, his big sin is to lose the 116 pages, and what... Fiona, you know this, what does he say that's so sad? When he loses 116 pages, he says, "My soul is lost." Is that it?
Yeah. Nope, that is it, or pretty close to it.
And of course he would think that, that there's no hope at all. But what I love is in Doctrine and Covenants section three, when the Lord's kind of.... that's the section where he's being a little bit like, you know, "You lost 116 pages, oh all hope is lost." But what I love is verse 10, in Doctrine and Covenants, section three, verse 10, the most beautiful part of this verse is the Lord says, "But remember, God is merciful, therefore repent of that which thou has done, which is contrary to the command which I gave unto you..." But here it is, "...and thou art still chosen." Like, "Yeah, you're still chosen though. Like you're not going to lose out on anything, you still get to do everything I had in store for you," which I think is so different than the God that Joseph Smith grew up believing in. It seems like Joseph would have thought, "Well, it's over now. Now I don't even get to translate anymore. All hope is lost."
I love the third verse. This "remember, remember, remember," so when and I think this is parallel to when Joseph... he thought that if God showed up, it would be the wrathful vengeful God because of the wording, you know, maybe he would not upbraid. I think that might be why Joseph was so afraid of going into the grove, but then the light and the love that came with that, and so, I think that that verb "remember" is so important. "Remember when you felt, remember when you felt my love" is it's so important for us because it's so, so easy to forget. And if we're not remembering, it's so easy for us to be blinded, and then we're incapable of remembering the things that are prepared for us and the things that are prepared for us. Our exaltation, this is our work and our glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all of our children. Satan does not want us to remember that. He does not want us to be thinking, "Oh, this is the end result." No, no, no. You know, it's awful. I wanted to come back to the hell and damnation paradigm.
I think about like, sin and guilt, like I visualize it like this backpack that we're carrying around. And like, every time we do something bad, we just like put a rock in that backpack, and we're putting rocks and putting rocks and we're trying to walk around. And it's really hard to remember that like you are like a child of God, that you are a goddess, that you are like, you know, an amazing human being when all you're thinking about is like, "My back is killing me. Like, this is so heavy." You know, so when we're thinking about like all of our sins and all of our guilt and everything we've done wrong, and we're just like, you know, this is you Tam those first two weeks, you know, you're just you can't even do the Lord's work because you're just thinking and thinking and thinking and carrying this backpack...
Yeah and believing what Satan wants me to think.
Yeah of course because he's like putting the rocks in the backpack and he's like, "Think about the rocks because they are heavy and you're heavy," and like Heavenly Father's like, "Put the backpack down and remember who you are and go do your work, but you can't do your work when you're carrying a backpack full of rocks around because all you can think about is 'my back hurts.'"
Exactly. Fiona, you mentioned earlier when we weren't recording, but I want to bring that back into the conversation, you said that you thought your children would just be born with your same DNA and the DNA to love the Lord and be members of the Church and just be solid, and what's so interesting is I think Alma the Older must have thought that, and I bet Alma the Younger started out that way, but I wonder if he just did something wrong, and then in came the shame. And that's what led to just a series of misfortunate events in Alma the Younger's decision-making processes. I just feel bad for him. I think he didn't come out of the womb bad, no one does. And Alma the younger we focus so much on all the bad he must have done, that I wonder how much shame was a part of his thinking process and the decisions that he made. And so in the next segment, we're going to talk about Alma the Younger's experience, and some of these words that are used to describe what he went through as he repented.
Segment 5 44:19
So I want to just jump right in to Alma the Younger's story, and we're going to talk about some of these incredible, just incredibly descriptive words that he uses in his description of what it was like going through this repentance process. So let's go to Mosiah chapter 27, and we're going to read verses 28 and 29. Let's start there and just kind of mark some of these words that stand out and we're going to read both verses. So Aliah, will you read verse 28 and 29, please?
Yes, I will.
"Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God."
"My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more."
So before we dive in and discuss these words, I want to just really quickly give descriptions and definitions of what these mean. In verse 29, the word "gall," I would highlight that and put Deuteronomy chapter 29 verse 18. The word "gall" there is referring to a poisonous or a bitter fruit, so you have context for that. Then the word "racked" is describing like a tormenting torture device. And then if you cross reference to Alma Chapter 36, the other word he's going to use is "harrowed" or "harrowed" if I were Fiona. I like to say "harrowed." Harrowed, it's a plowing device that's used to break up clods of dirt when you're trying to get your field ready to plant things. And those are the words that stand out the most to me as I read his description of what it was like for him. So tell me as you read those words, what are some things that stood out to you and some of your thoughts?
I think this is an interesting passage because I think we often read it as like that these were things that were happening to Alma the Younger because he was sinning. You know that he was wading for tribulation because he was sinning. He was in an everlasting burning because he was sinning, you know, he was in the bonds of iniquity because he was sinning. We have to remember that while he was in the sinning, he wasn't feeling any of those things. When he recognized how far he was from Heavenly Father, that's when he felt terrible. I think of the progidal son, you know, like he went away and he did all of those things, and then he was like, "I just want to go home." And I think when Alma the Younger, you know, sees the angel and I don't think you can be in the presence of an angel without being somewhat in the presence of our Heavenly Father, and he is like, "Oh my gosh, I was so far away. I was so far away. I just want to come home." And that's what was racking his soul.
Aliah when you were just talking about that it brought to mine memory, the word for "repentance" in Hebrew is "Teshuva" or "Teshuv." And what I love about the Hebrew language is that each letter means something. Like if I in English, if I were to say what does the letter "A" mean? You would just say, "It means 'A,'" but in Hebrew, if you say, "Tell me what the letter Aleph means." "Oh it means the head or an ox, the beginning."
And so, they spell their words very carefully, usually in three letters, and so Teshuva is spelled with a "Tav," a "shin," and a "Vaw." And those three letters symbolize, the "Tav" symbolizes "covenant" or "crossing." The "shin" represents "jagged teeth," something that's going to devour, and "Vaw" represents a home. And it makes me think that the word used to spell repentance means to "make a covenant that will devour something and bring you home." And it's just what you said that the prodigal son felt like that and Alma the Younger feeling wanting to go home, and so, he uses these very descriptive words, almost poetic in describing how he's feeling. So Fiona, tell me some of your thoughts. You look very pensive.
I love it. I wish you could see your face.
Oh, I've been grabbed, snatched by the phrase "everlasting burning." It is interesting that the dominant symbol for the Holy Spirit is fire. So we we hear that the earth shall be consumed with fire, we assume that because apocalyptic it's going to be a nuclear holocaust. But I think a better maybe a more correct reading of that is that the earth will be consumed by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit purifies. So this idea of everlasting burning, he can't just jump willy-nilly, you know, from you know, "I hate this Church and I'm going to destroy it," to, "I love this church and I'm not..." Without some bridge for him to cross, otherwise that would suggest to me anyway that his agency was being violated, can't pull him out. In it, there's no conversion. God cannot kill us. So this idea of everlasting burning for me then so that there's a purifying going on to enable him to cross that bridge to self recognition, and he's ready to be snatched.
And I think about those two things together that both Fiona said and that Tam said, you know, that idea of like the jagged teeth that maybe that idea of repentance is that the Lord is you know, pulling away from you, whatever is keeping you from keeping your covenants and coming home.
And I love that idea of coming home. I love that in all of this, all of this has been done in order to enable us to make those decisions to come home.
So Fiona, one of the things that you've spent so much time studying and writing about is going back to this God that we love, but you talk about a God who weeps, and tell me what is it he's weeping about? Because a lot of times we think, "Oh, he's weeping because I'm a sinner," but tell me about that.
My favorite reference to the God who weeps is in Moses chapter seven, verse 37, where we read, "...wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?" First of all, I think it's important that he introduces himself as "Man of Holiness." So we know that this is God the Father speaking because if one believes that God the Father is the God of the Old Testament, I'm not sure we believe that but most Christians do, then it's fairly terrifying. So it's like, "This is who I am speaking." And then he's talking about how his children are fighting with each other, and it's so interesting because it's a reversal, actually, of the two great commandments to love God and to love your fellow man.
God is weeping because his children are not getting along. In fact, they're behaving appallingly to each other, and that is what creates the pain. So it's over the suffering that is a result of our, you know, just being wretched brothers and sisters. And it's interesting, I think it's significant that he doesn't say, "I'm weeping because they're sinning." He says, "I'm weeping because they are suffering." And to me, that is so powerful because it's such a radical move from God the Father, who most of us within our Church community and also without, see as a violent, wrathful, vengeful God. And in Moses seven, I think particularly this idea that God is suffering, that he is vulnerable, that he feels our pain and that inflicting pain would not be possible for him on any level.
This scripture really really speaks to me about the depth of his love and Sigmund Freud once said that, "We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love, that it is this vulnerability that will eventually draw all mankind back to God." When we read the Scripture, "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that this is the Lord." This is not a feudal paradigm. This is not the lord of the manor. It is that we will recognize the depths of Christ's love, and in gratitude, we shall all fall to our knees, those of us who have not recognized him before in our lives and recognize him as the Messiah, as the atoning one, as the one who came to die, to live, and to lead us to exaltation.
I recommend everyone reading Moses seven, it's definitely worth it. I think it's the chapter in Scripture that makes God the most human. And you get to really see him as a God who loves and weeps with us.
Right. Yeah, and I would say Jacob five as well because that also shows him as human and I think the verb "grieve" associated with God is mentioned eight times, it "grievous me..." So those two in combination I think are really really fabulous and really foreground.
I think also to continue with that idea of grieving and weeping, my favorite scripture in the New Testament about Christ weeping is when he comes to raise Lazarus from the dead because, you know, Mary and Martha are just beside themselves, their brother has died. One of them, you know, stays by the tomb, the other one runs out to Jesus. And it says in the scripture that he weeps with her.
Before he even goes to Lazarus.
And this to me is astonishing, he knows that he is going to raise Lazarus from the dead like in 30 seconds. And he still stops to weep with her. Like how human is that? How loving is that?
And I think that's so beautiful because it goes in, "If you have seen me, you've seen the Father. What ye have seen me do, you've seen the Father do." So I think that's such a beautiful link to Moses seven because Christ weeps, but he wept over Mary and Martha's suffering and all those people and the friends and wept with them. And then I think all of these chapters then bring together this beautiful hole. And I think in that light, Alma saw, Alma felt God's suffering with him, and how vulnerable he was and how magnificent he was. And then we have this incredible change of heart that he's not just going to live a better life, but he is going to take the beauty of this God to their enemies. And try and share that with them because he has had this wonderful manifestation that God is beautiful and that God is love.
Thank you. You know and thinking all of this In my mind, I feel like it's so sad that we would limit the Atonement of Jesus Christ to think that he couldn't possibly weep with us. I feel like he definitely does and that is part of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to weep with us, to mourn with us. So going back to then the words that Alma the Younger uses to describe his experience, going through the repentance process, and we talked about the poetry that he's trying to get us to feel what it must have been like for him to have that experience. I want us to think about that, and there's a really great quote, Fiona, you brought this up by Elder Uchtdorf, will you read that to us?
Yes, I'd be happy to.
“It is true that fear can have a powerful influence over our actions and behavior. But that influence tends to be temporary and shallow. Fear rarely has the power to change our hearts, and it will never transform us into people who love what is right and who want to obey Heavenly Father. People who are fearful may say and do the right things, but they do not feel the right things. They often feel helpless and resentful, even angry. Over time these feelings lead to mistrust, defiance, even rebellion. The more I come to know my Heavenly Father, the more I see how He inspires and leads His children. He is not angry, vengeful, or retaliatory. His very purpose—His work and His glory—is to mentor us, exalt us, and lead us to His fulness.” (“Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf).
That is a beautiful quote.
It's stunning. It's absolutely stunning.
Yeah, and just the beauty in it that his whole goal, and it's what we talked about, to lead us to his fullness or to bring us home. That's what the goal of the repentance process is, to bring us home because he loves us. He's weeping with us. He's feeling with us. He understands every single one of our hearts. And so Alma the Younger has this beautiful experience, and the idea is that the words that Alma the Younger's sharing isn't to promote fear in any of us, but to tell us, "This is what my experience was like, and now let me show you how beautiful it became." It's to help us understand that what we will see in the next segment as as hard as it was for him to repent, it was equally as beautiful and how much our Heavenly Father loves us when we come unto him, and we'll talk about that in the next segment.
Segment 6 58:33
So Fiona and Aliah, let me ask you this question then. Does it really work? Does the repentance process really make us clean? Does it really make us become... or are we just kind of saying this because it's what we should say?
Yes, it works. Yes, the repentance process works, it makes us clean, and it brings us... but I want to shift that a little bit. If you are already clean, we are already holy, we are already gods and goddesses, but what the repentance process lets us do is put down all of the garbage of the world.
I do. The way that we have reformulated repentance as turning our hearts to God. And Alma shows that there generally needs to be a stimulus in order to do that. Sometimes it needs to be something fairly dramatic as happened to Paul and Alma, but generally it's just a gentle, quiet things and this is where the Holy Spirit becomes so important. I think, for many of us when we feel shame or guilt, it impedes our ability to feel the Holy Spirit. And so, guilt and shame, are not precursors to repentance. And repentance is this continual changing, this continual striving for and reaching for our heavenly parents. And it's a lifelong quest.
Absolutely lifelong. Let's go into Mosiah and read the words that Alma the Younger uses to describe how he felt when he was coming out of this experience. In Mosiah chapter 27, verse 29, we read this at the end, but I want to give us a scripture reference when he says, "...but now I behold the marvelous light of God." He's holding this marvelous, beautiful light. Cross reference that with Alma chapter 36, verse 20. We're gonna go to two different places to read how he wrote about this. So Alma Chapter 36, verse 20, and let's turn there. Okay, I will read that verse and then I'll give you another cross reference.
In verse 20, it says, Alma the Younger says, "And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!"
And the next verse to put next to that is Alma chapter 38, verse eight, and let's go there. And the reason I love this one is because he's talking to his son, and he's like, "Listen, I get it. I know what it's like. I feel your pain." That's what I love about Alma and Paul, is they share their own repentance stories, and I've said this before, but I feel like we don't share ours enough. I grew up thinking no adult in my whole life had ever repented of anything because they were perfect. I feel like it's my goal to make sure everyone knows I've gone through the repentance process because we all have to, it's part of life. And Alma the Younger, I love this verse in verse eight. He says this... Aliah, will you read that for us?
"And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul."
Aliah, tell me as a therapist, this idea, do you really find peace to your soul?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, I don't think I could do my job, if people didn't find peace to their soul. Like if people didn't find that peace, my job would really suck. Like it would just be really horrible.
Because to be in endless and never-ending sorrow and the galls of bitterness and gut wrenching and harrowing, like people come in like that into my office. They are just racked with suffering and pain, sometimes because of things they've done, sometimes because of things that other people have done. And if I didn't believe that they could feel joy again, I couldn't do my job. And the thing that keeps me coming back to my job, the thing that I love about my job is I get to see that process all of the time. I get to see people move from being racked, from being harrowed, from being tormented, and to being joyful and giving and loving and full of light and joy. And they do go out into the world and do good. They absolutely do, and then they send their friends to me, and they're like, "Go talk to this lady," you know, and not that, I mean I love their referrals, but what that tells me is that they go out into the world so joyful that other people ask them like, "What happened to you? Like what happened to you because you were like this, and now you're like this," and I really do hold my job... I hold it in a very sacred place because people come to me and talk to me about things they've never talked to anybody about, and I don't typically bring religion into the session unless the client brings religion into the session, but I often feel the spirit there, and I often feel the spirit about how much our Heavenly Father loves this person. And like sometimes he loves them so much that my heart wants to burst.
When you said how much he loves every single one of us, no matter who we are, no matter what we've done, the beauty of this story, going back to it is how much he loved Alma the Younger. And I want to show you this verse of scripture because it always kind of just astounds me, the connection. There's a scripture and another cross-reference proof that it does work. 100% it does work and it's because he loves us. Look at Mosiah chapter 28 verse four. I attended a CES seminary teacher conference when I was first hired, and Richard G. Scott was speaking to us, and he was talking about the repentance process and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And I've never forgotten this and I use it as often as I can. He brought up the sons of Mosiah and Alma the Younger.
And he said, "Look at verse four." And it starts at the beginning, it says, and this is speaking about those young men, "And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners."
And he asked us to think what that must mean. And of course, in my mind, I'm like, "Wow, they were the worst." I mean, I don't know and I really don't know of any other scripture reference that describes anybody as the very vilest of sinners. And if anyone listening thinks that you're a bad sinner, you got nothing on these guys. I mean, come on, the very vilest. But the beauty in this verse of scripture is found in this cross reference. Put next to that verse, Alma chapter 48, verses 17 and 18, and let's go there. Alma 48 is all about Captain Moroni, and how incredible Captain Moroni was. I mean, he was the man. And Fiona, will you read verse 17 for us about Captain Moroni?
"Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."
So he was pretty amazing. And now look at verse 18, and Fiona, read that for us please.
"Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God."
I just love the beauty in that verse that we went from being the very vilest of sinners, to now being called "men of God." And I'll never forget when Elder Scott looked at us from the podium and said, "You teach this to your seminary students, and you tell them that they are not second class citizens when they use the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They're not less than they could have been. They're not half of what they might have been. They are 100%." And it goes back to what you said Aliah, they are loved, they are already whole, they are already goodness. And they are all, all of us are sons and daughters of God, no matter what we've been through or experienced or done. You're shaking your heads, tell me, yes.
I think that's one of the wonderful things about the restoration gospel is that for all other Christians, there was sin and fall, but in our theology, there is not. There is a courageous choice made and ascent into mortality because we needed the experience here to become to develop those attributes that are godlike in Christ like, and to enter into this really important educative process to become like our Heavenly parents.
Well and you see this in the new Testament as well because you see... Christ tells this parable about, you know, who would love God the most, you know, the person who gets a little bit repentant, or who gets a lot of repentance. And the apostle says, "Well, of course the guy who receives the most repentance will love God the Most." And, I mean, it's just a little parable, and it's just a little moment in the New Testament, but he's already teaching us that, that he's like, "I have all of this repentance for you, like, whatever you're doing, however you did it, wherever you are, like, come home," you know, and like, I think only people who have repented, and I'm not like advocating to like go out and do terrible sins. We all kind of fall into them sometimes. But like, only those of us who have truly repented of things that anguished our souls, and then we have felt that redeeming love, we have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, truly understand how much our Heavenly Father loves us.
I would amen that. Absolutely. Let's finish with this quote by Eller Boyd k. Packer, which I think is one of the most beautiful things he's ever said.
“The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … It just heals, and what it heals stays healed...The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that...The Atonement...can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated” (Boyd K Packer, “The Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, May 2015, 28).
I just think that perfectly sums up everything we talked about today, in my opinion.
This conversation today, I just, I knew I needed to have both of you on. It was beautiful. Thank you for joining me today.
Well, I just felt the spirit. I have to say thank you. This has been a really, really wonderful spiritual piece. Thank you all. It's been just such a such a blessing for me. I needed this thank you.
And can I just say too, it usually takes us about two hours to record an episode that will be one hour long. This is the first time we've ever had to record, go take a lunch break, and come back. That's how much we've talked. I feel bad that not everyone... Those of you listening, just so you know, it was so much, three or four hours of talk, talk, talk because there's so much to say on this topic and we feel like, I feel like we've kind of just skimmed the surface, right?
The things that Fiona brought just touched my heart and like I will think about them for a long time and ponder and pray about them.
Okay, ladies, so tell me what your takeaway was, what did you learn? What stands out to you from today?
What stands out to me today is that there is so much joy to be had in this life. No matter where you've been, no matter what you've done, there is so much joy to be had.
And for me, added to that joy, there is hope. There is hope for all of us. We have the security of knowing that the whole work and glory of the Godhead, the whole purpose was to bring us home and for us to be able to share in exaltation with them. That it's just not a nice thing. It is true. Ye are joint as with Christ.
My takeaway was that instead of saying "confessing and forsaking," I want to now say "share and let go." Like just go in and share it, and then let it go, and move on, and then do what Alma the Younger did and just hit the road running and share the message with as many people as you can. God just wants to weep with us, and then he wants us to come home. That's the whole purpose of all of this. So thank you. Thank you, ladies for being here. This was so awesome.
Thank you Tam.
What a gift, what a great day.
For those of you listening, we would love to hear what your big takeaway was from this episode. Every week we have a great discussion over on our Instagram and our Facebook page about your big scriptural takeaways for the week. So I want you to find us there @SundayonMonday.podcast. It's such a fun place to virtually gather with others who are digging into their scriptures and it's also a great place to ask questions that you might have about this week's study. And any questions you have, either I will answer, or I'll pass on to Aliah and Fiona and they can help answer some of those questions. I just love being able to interact with all of you there.
You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday, and it's not a bad idea to go there anyway because that's where we have all the links to the references that we used today as well as the entire transcript of this discussion. We'll also have links to Fiona's books which I adore, so please go check those out. You're going to want to read what Fiona has said about all of this stuff.
The Sunday on Monday study group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living. It's written by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our awesome study group participants were Aliah Hall and Fiona Givens and you can find more information about these ladies at LDSLliving.com/SundayonMonday. Our podcast is produced by KaRyn Lay with postproduction and editing by Erika Free and Emily Abel. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios, and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week, and please, if there's ever an episode to remember, it's this one, that you are God's favorite.