Is Your Past Holding You Back?

Digital Only: Young Adults

Is Your Past Holding You Back?

The Savior already paid the price. Take His hand and keep moving forward.


A little while ago, my bishop invited our ward to think of some weakness or sin that we could figuratively leave at the sacrament table for Jesus Christ to take away. There are sins I’ve carried with me throughout my young adult life that I’ve tried to conquer but haven’t been able to overcome through prayer or my own willpower. Despite my growth throughout the years, I knew I needed to overcome them to continue progressing.

The Sunday after the bishop’s challenge, I decided that I would leave just one of my sins on the sacrament table, a physical representation of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice. As I prepared to take the sacrament, I remembered that the cloth covering it represented His burial cloth, and the bread and water represented His body and blood.

With sincerity and full purpose of heart, I renewed my baptismal covenants and said a prayer in my heart, asking Heavenly Father for help and making a commitment to leave this sin behind. Then something happened I never expected: my desire to sin completely left. I tried this a few more times, and the same thing happened with other sins. Was it too good to be true?

Aligning My Will with His

The next week, I knew what sin I wanted to leave at the sacrament table, but I didn’t feel ready to give it up. Looking back, I realize that my heart wasn’t in the place it needed to be. I wasn’t being sincere enough to commit to change. But I realized how much the sin hurt Heavenly Father. I knew I needed to align my will with His and center my life around Him to become free. So I did my best to make that a reality.

I avoided any temptation that could lead to this sin. I changed the way I read my scriptures every day and truly pondered them and applied them to my life. I focused on being sincere in my commitment to change, and I sought every day to seek the Lord’s will over mine. I put Him first, because I knew I couldn’t leave this sin behind without the power of the Savior’s Atonement. By continuing to put Him first, I was able to surrender this sin at the sacrament table. I was finally free from something that had held me back for so many years.

Through this process, I grew closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I imagined Them looking down on me for all of these years with patience and love—knowing, eventually, I would give up the sins that spiritually hampered my progress. And when I was ready to give them up, Jesus Christ would be there to lift me—to take me by the hand and grant me forgiveness and strength. He already provided a way for me to become free from my sins through His Atonement. He paid the price for my weaknesses, mistakes, and sins. I just needed to trust Him.

You Can Move Forward

During this time, I read some words from Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that gave me the little push I needed: “If your life is in disarray and you feel uncomfortable and unworthy … , don’t worry. He already knows about all of that. He is waiting for you to kneel in humility and take the first few steps. Pray for strength. … Pray that the love of the Savior will pour into your heart.”1

When we sang “I Stand All Amazed” (my favorite hymn) the next week, each word rang true; I really was amazed—in awe that the things I had struggled with for more than a decade were taken from me. In awe that through the power of the Savior’s Atonement, I could move forward. That He can heal all sins and wounds and leave no trace of them behind. That I didn’t need to be held back by my past.

I still have so much to learn and overcome, but my life is on an upward course. I’m feeling more joy and peace. I’m expressing more gratitude. I’m coming closer to and strengthening my testimony of Heavenly Father and the Savior. Every day that I choose to try again, I come one step closer to Them and the person They know I can be.