“I Was the 100th Sheep,” New Era, Apr. 2004, 9
The shrill cry of a car’s horn broke into my thoughts. I had been sitting in my car at the stop sign for several minutes crying. I slowly pulled to the side of the road. The car behind me drove by, and I was again by myself as tears blurred my vision.
The process of repentance had never been more real to me. An hour had passed since I had gone to see the bishop. I had cried as I listened to his counsel and came to realize that I had offended the Lord and was not worthy to bless or pass the sacrament or attend the temple.
This scared me. What would the people in the ward think when they did not see me blessing the sacrament? At that moment, it did not really seem to matter. I was ready to fall at the Lord’s feet. Or so I thought.
I crept in the front door more than an hour after I should have been home from the interview. I tried to decide how to tell my parents why I was late. As I sat in the dark, I tried to hold in my tears. Then I felt an arm on my shoulder. I looked through the haze of tears and saw my mom’s gentle eyes. She said, “Have you been gone this entire time?”
“Yes,” I said, as I told her the bishop and I had a lot to talk about. I hid my face.
She wrapped her arm around me in a gentle embrace. “No matter what you have done, your father and I will always love you,” she said.
The tears rained into my hands. She left, and for the first time I think I truly prayed from my heart.
For the next few days, I felt like I could do no wrong. The bishop’s words seemed easy to follow, and the road back didn’t seem hard. But then I started to hang out with my old friends again, and slowly Satan’s wedge began to pry at me. I started to wonder why things were so hard. I was angry with the Lord and questioned why things couldn’t be easier.
I was feeling guilty and haunted by the things I had done, and I wasn’t going to let myself forget them. I started to fall into the same traps again. I thought I had cast my troubles upon the Lord, and He was to take care of the rest. But things didn’t seem any better, and I was ready to give up. I hadn’t realized yet that I had not really thrown myself at the Lord’s feet. I was being stubborn. I was a lost sheep, unwilling to cry for help. I was still trying to free myself from Satan’s snare all alone.
That all began to change a few weeks later when my family and I moved. I was forced to do what I should have done in the first place. I left my old friends and life behind. In my new home no one knew me, and they saw me for what I could be.
As I made new friends with high standards, I tried to convince them that I was a lost cause and that they should give up on me. But they wouldn’t. They showed the same love my parents had shown. Their love finally led me to believe that, someday perhaps, I could love myself too.
I turned to the scriptures and to prayer. I prayed every night with tears in my eyes and with pain in my heart. Often I felt hopeless, but my prayers and my scripture reading uplifted me. Slowly, I began to regain my self-respect. It was a long and difficult process. Along the way I even discovered the joy of writing in a journal, which helped me focus my thoughts and say more sincere prayers.
One night while reading the scriptures, I felt something no words can describe. I found the peace that I had longed for as forgiveness came. The Lord healed my soul. I felt His love wrap around me. I felt free from my sins. I felt forgiven.
Days later I read Doctrine and Covenants 6:22–23: “If you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”
The feeling of peace I had truly was from the Lord. He left the “ninety and nine” to rescue me (Matt. 18:12).
In site: Read “You Can’t Pet a Rattlesnake” (New Era, May 2002) by Elder David E. Sorensen and “Q&A: How can I find courage to confess to the bishop?” (New Era, Oct. 1989) at www.lds.org in the Gospel Library.