A former addict and repeat convict shares his experiences with the Savior’s ability and willingness to forgive him again and again, even when he felt undeserving.
I got arrested for two burglaries I had committed to pay for my addiction to heroin, and I ended up spending five years in the Arizona state prison system. And I hadn't even been out for a few days, and I'd started drinking and smoking pot again. And soon enough I got into trouble, and they sent me back in. And it became important for me to figure out where I was going and what I was doing with my life. I started to believe that God was trying to help me because I had these unmistakable feelings that were like God was reaching out, but I couldn't understand why. And I finally got down on my knees, and it was the first time that I had prayed with any real sincerity in probably 11, 12 years. And I said, "God, I believe that You're there, and I believe that You're trying to help me. What I don't understand is why. Why would You want to help me? I'm a convict, I'm an addict, I'm an alcoholic, and I haven't tried to follow You. Why would You want to help me?" I got an answer to that prayer in a feeling I had in here and words that I actually heard: "Mark, it's because I love you." I dated this girl--I was at BYU--for five or six months. And the day I asked her to marry me was the day she decided to break up with me. And I had a dentist's appointment that week, and they did a root canal. And the dentist gave me a prescription for pain pills, and immediately I had a warning bell go off in my head. Before I'd even gone and gotten a refill of it, I had reversed the prescription and I was taking four to six every one to two hours. And not only did I relapse again; I ended up living on the streets and getting into the worst addiction I've ever been involved with. I got involved with a robbery. When I went in, I told this guy, "Hey, I just want your money. I'm not going to hurt you." I just kept my hand in my pocket, and I left. Hiding in the bushes down the road, watching the cop cars go by and stuff, I realized what an absolute phony and fraud and hypocrite I was. I saw this fellow's reaction in my mind's eye, and that look of fear that was in his eyes; how could I have done that to another human being? I felt like I was about the biggest failure on the earth because God had saved my life once before and I had thrown it away. I figured out how to get the safety off the gun and a bullet into the chamber, and all the sudden the whole world went silent; the sirens going by, the cars, everything else just totally went silent. And I heard these words: "I'm still here." And I said, "How can You be? After all I've done, after all You've done for me, how can You still be there?" But I knew whose voice it was. And I knew that it was real. I finally walked out of those bushes and to the cops that were out on the street. I walked up to them and I said, "I'm the one you're looking for." I ended up spending nine years in the prison system. But you know, nine years was a small price to pay to have a life given back to me again, because I came to find a loving God who had been with me every step of the way, and the times that I didn't think He was there were only because I wasn't looking. I was able to get out of prison about 16 years ago now. There is a woman I met. We're just about ready to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, and our son, who we named Ammon, was born on Christmas morning seven years ago.
[VOICE OF ELDER CARDON] The Lord knows what we are facing, that we all sin and "come short of the glory of God" again and again. He "knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted." He teaches us to "pray always that [we]
enter not into temptation." We are told to "cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save." He commands us to repent and to forgive. And although repentance is not easy, as we strive with all our hearts to obey His gospel, He gives this promise: "Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding [your] sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards [you]. I will not utterly cast you off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy." The Savior wants to forgive.