Lasting change—behavioral and spiritual change—can be difficult to accomplish, especially if we try to do it alone. Thankfully, through His atoning sacrifice, the Savior provided a way for us to change with His help: repentance.
The word “repentance” may seem to have a harsh connotation. When we need to repent, we feel a deep sorrow that motivates us to seek a better way. But we don’t have to punish ourselves. The word for “repentance” in the New Testament is the Greek word metanoeo. The prefix meta- means “change,” and -noeo means “mind,” “knowledge,” “spirit,” and “breath.” As President Russell M. Nelson taught, “When Jesus asks you and me to ‘repent,’ He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit— even the way we breathe” (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2019, 67).
Repentance is change. The scriptures repeatedly invite us to repent—to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit, our breath. But how can we actually accomplish this kind of change?
Making meaningful change, or repenting, requires humility. Jesus told Moroni, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
When we are humble, we can more easily see where we need to improve. This self-awareness is a gift from God! We can and should express gratitude for it. It means that we are ready for the challenge.
Recognize your gifts.
It’s important in this process of repentance to recognize what you’re good at. This is a way of rallying together your resources. Being your best self means playing to your strengths at work and everywhere else. You will also want to change your weaknesses. Ask yourself, “How can I use my gifts to help me repent?
As you consider your strengths and your weaknesses, remember your divine identity. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 22). Knowing who you are and who you are meant to become will help you reach your potential.
Ask for help.
Change is not something we have to endure alone. We can look to people we trust: good friends, parents, mentors, leaders, and even mental health professionals. And above all else, we can turn to God. He knows what we are trying to change, and as we turn to Him, He will give us the help we need.
Keep the temple in your sights.
The promises we make in the temple are life changing and eternal. When we keep our promises to God, we become more sensitive to His guidance, direction, and love. As we strive to be worthy to attend the temple, the Christlike characteristics we want to adopt naturally become easier to practice.
Prayerfully prepare to partake of the sacrament.
As the week draws to a close and a new week begins, we can reflect on the things we’ve done well and the things we need to improve. We can prayerfully prepare to take the sacrament by pondering the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. And as we take the sacrament, we can thank God for providing the strength to improve, and we can ask for His help to do better.
Focus on the things that matter most.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught: “Our relationship with God is most sacred and vital. … As we seek Him, as we learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Spirit, our lives become more stable and secure. We experience greater peace, joy, and fulfillment as we give our best to live according to God’s eternal plan and keep His commandments” (“Of Things That Matter Most,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 21). When we center our lives on Christ and His gospel, real change, real repentance, becomes possible.
It’s challenging to identify how we need to change and then start on the path to repentance—but it’s always worth it.