Yesterday's lesson in Relief Society was on sin and repentance. Two subjects I know far too well....
There are three kinds of sin:
Sin of Ignorance, where you really didn't know what you did was wrong until after the fact. Someone or something got hurt because of something you did, and although you didn't mean to do it, you still are responsible for making it right. The Atonement of Christ works very well in helping to take care of this one.
Sin of Weakness.... yep, I've got a lot of those... Weaknesses that is... I do a lot of stumbling around in this one. This is part of being human and thank goodness for the Atonement so that I can (with the Savior's help) grow those weaknesses into strengths.
Last there is Sin of Willful Disobedience.... I've done this too. Fell flat on my face in the mud and took a long time to get me cleaned up. Especially for this one am I grateful for the Atonement. It took a lot more work, but oh, how that work was worth it. The work wasn't for the Lord's benefit, it definitely was for mine.
We talked about Godly Sorrow in class. About how you can tell the difference between a false apology and one that is sincere. How Godly Sorrow is an important step towards being able to apply the Savior's Atonement and be cleansed.
I thought about my recent divorce. About my ex-husband. He has changed a lot over the last year and a half. I have seen the changes take place in him that tell me he is finally getting it.... he is figuring out how to draw on the Atonement for himself. Many people have prayed for this to happen. I am grateful those prayers are being answered.
The reason I divorced him was because he wasn't changing. I stayed with him for two years after his confession, hoping he would "get it" and make the changes necessary to reconcile himself to God. If he were reconciled to God, then there would be no problem with him being unfaithful to me.
I knew how easy it was to fall on your face, how that willful disobedience can be a wedge that grows until it consumes. How it is a flaxen cord that multiplies until it become a heavy rope that strangles. I knew all this from personal experience and I knew I could not expect mercy for me if I refused to give it to others. Especially him.
But he wouldn't do it.
He kept lying... He kept cheating... So finally I left...
At first he would say things like "I already said I was sorry." and "How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?". He would get angry at me because I didn't trust him. He somehow thought it would be just a quick fix at his convenience and all would be well again... Not so.
The changes were gradual over the months. They began after the divorce was final. It was then that he finally realized I really wouldn't put up with it any more. First he was sincerely sorry, but mostly for himself. It was a start I told myself.
Then he started reflecting on how it must have been for me. WOW!! I didn't think that would ever happen. His apologies took on a new color. They were no longer all about him. They were actually about me, about the Lord, about others he had hurt. He pulled farther and farther away from himself and began to see the picture more clearly. He was finally getting it!
They say a leopard cannot change his spots. That may be true, but it is unfair to say that about a man. If you truly believe that about a person, then you do not believe Christ. They cannot both exist. One will nullify the other. I'm not saying it is easy, it certainly is hard work, but with the power of the Atonement, it is possible to completely shed the unfaithful heart and replace it with one that is completely reconciled to God.
And it doesn't have to take a long time to happen. What it really only requires is deep sincerity and commitment to God. It takes a real decision, without reservation, without holding onto anything from the past. It takes burying your swords, not just putting them away in the closet.
The people of Ammon did it. Both Alma the Elder and his son did it. The Nenevites did it. The Atonement applies to everyone, even a recovering sex addict.
I sincerely hope he continues on the path he is on. I sincerely hope he can find true happiness in his life. I realized yesterday that I really hope he is able to find someone to be faithful to, and that he continues to be faithful to her throughout the rest of his life. I hope this for him, without reservations or jealously that someone else will somehow reap benefit from the pain I endured.
In thinking about this I realized, I truly have forgiven him.
6 months ago