Embrace the Healing Power of Repentance and Forgiveness
April 2024

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Embrace the Healing Power of Repentance and Forgiveness

From his devotional address, “Asking, Seeking, and Knocking: A Compassionate Pattern,” given at Brigham Young University–Hawaii on Jan. 29, 2023. For the full address, visit

Find answers to three questions about repentance and forgiveness.

a man praying and looking hopeful

A few months ago, I invited BYU–Hawaii students to submit a question to an Apostle that concerns them the most as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I grouped the questions into similar topics. One such grouping related to repenting and being forgiven of our sins, feeling worthy to partake of the sacrament, and feeling God’s love for us even when we may feel unworthy. I would like to address that topic here.

Can God Still Love Me Even When I Have Sinned?

It is interesting to note that the principle of repentance comes after faith in Jesus Christ. Well, I must tell you that God loves us, even if we are deep in sin. We are forgiven when we have humbled ourselves before God, counseled with appropriate Church leaders as needed, and repented and forsaken our sins. Taking these steps brings us closer to the Savior, who can ultimately free us from guilt, sorrow, and spiritual and physical bondage.

Why Do I Still Feel Guilty Even after I Have Repented?

We do not know why we sometimes continue to feel guilt even after we have repented for the sins we have committed. Rather than speculating, talk to our Heavenly Father about it. Ask Him this question directly. I know that over time, He will reveal to you what you need. In my case, I still have some memories of some of my past mistakes. As I have prayed about it, the Lord has told me that I have been forgiven, and I should not worry about those things anymore. However, I also feel that those memories are a warning for me to strive to not fall into those mistakes again.

So, it is not totally negative having those memories. I see them in my life as a demonstration of God’s love for me as He consistently warns me to avoid taking that route again. As we continually strive to do our best, manifesting through our works the desire to cleanse the inner vessel (see Alma 60:23), feelings of guilt and discouragement tend to go away. In time, our experience can be like that of Alma, who testified that after repenting “he could still remember his sins, but the memory of his sins no longer distressed and tortured him, because he knew he had been forgiven.”1

How Can I Forgive Others Who Have Hurt Me?

An interesting concern expressed through the questions submitted is related to forgiving those who offended us and did bad things to us.

Well, this is an interesting question. Let us focus on some principles and see how we can apply them. As we study the word of God, we learn that forgiving others brings great spiritual blessings, including peace and hope. Perhaps the most important of these blessings is that as we forgive others, we can also be forgiven of our own sins. The Lord teaches us that forgiveness is a universal commandment and that we are “required to forgive all men” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10). However, it may still be difficult.

Sometimes we allow pride, fear, resentment, or bitterness to discourage us and block our ability to feel hope. But the courage to forgive comes to those who put their faith and trust in the Lord. With His help, we can find the strength to forgive others, whether the wrongdoer has committed a serious sin or an unintended offense. Forgiving means letting go of blame for a past hurt. It is also to release a significant burden. It is to move ahead with life.

Regarding forgetting, it is important to remember that “forgiveness does not mean forgetting the offense ever occurred or pretending it never happened. It does not mean that you allow the [hurtful behavior] to continue. It does not mean that it is possible for all relationships to be healed. And it does not mean the offender will not be held accountable for his or her actions. It means the Savior can help you let go.”2

Here are a few suggestions to help in this process: 

  • Pray for humility. Humility is the opposite of pride, which is the primary obstacle in our effort to forgive. Pride leads us to focus on feelings of animosity toward others. It also causes us to overlook our own weaknesses, mistakes, and sins. But the Lord promises, “If they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27). According to our humility and faith, the Lord will help us become more like Him and truly forgive as He did. 

  • Express gratitude. Expressing gratitude invites the Spirit more fully into our lives, which can soften and change our hearts. Consider keeping a journal of things you are grateful for. Look for manifestations of God’s love each day. As you cultivate an attitude of gratitude, you may find that you can even identify reasons to be grateful for your trials.

  • Be patient. Forgiving when you’re in great pain may take time. A woman recovering from a painful divorce received this wise counsel from her bishop: “Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in.” You can make room for forgiveness through earnest prayer, study, and contemplation. Feasting upon the words of Christ daily will also help you draw closer to Him and will bring great healing power into your life (see 2 Nephi 31:20; Jacob 2:8).

  • Leave the past behind. History is history and cannot be changed. But you can focus your energy on today; for today, you have the power to choose to forgive. Cast your burden on the Lord. Christ beckons, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Remember that in addition to taking upon Him the sins of the world, Christ took upon Him our pains and infirmities (see 2 Nephi 9:21; Alma 7:11–12; Doctrine and Covenants 18:11). If you allow Him, He can make your burden light.

Finding the strength to forgive can be challenging, but the Savior and His Atonement make it possible. Truly, as we open our hearts to forgive others, we will be blessed with peace. I invite you to embrace the healing power of forgiveness.