I'm still with Elder Curtis!! And we have a new friend! Elder Jeng is back! We've been companions before in Pitsanulok and now we're here in the office as a trio!! We're really excited for this transfer.
With the transfers came a lot of guidance from leaders and the Holy Ghost. In many situations after learning something new Elder Curtis would lean over and say, "It's okay. We can repent."
This sentence, repeated several times really struck me. "We can repent." "I can repent." "You can repent."
I can remember before my mission, for 18 years every time I heard the word repent I would always think of that time when I threw a sandwich at my sister, or when I got hurt and responded unkindly to a parent on family night. I would separate myself from the world, whether in my room or in the car. I'd talk to myself quietly, thinking of all the different ways that experience could have played out; all of the sharp comebacks I could have thrown. I can remember that I'd always console myself and convince myself that I was right. Usually I would do a lot of nothing.Then as the minutes continued to pass by and daily activities distracted me, I would slowly forget about the experience and sometimes expect that it would just disappear. Time heals old wounds... Right?
Then maybe a few minutes later, maybe a few weeks later, I would find myself feeling the pain that an individual can feel because of mistakes. It feels like someone just punched you in the heart; It feels like your throat is clenched up. It isn't painful but it hurts worse than any physical wound. The pondering starts again, this time not looking for justification or retribution, but for reconciliation. I'd always find myself in my sister's room, standing next to a locked door with my hand on the doorknob or sitting on the foot of a bed picking at the lint on the blanket that she's covered herself with, searching for words, "Hey---- I'm sorry...". Then by and by I'm driving up to grandma's house, sitting next to the person who I've already "fixed the problem". It's really quiet and only when a third party enters the conversation are any words spoken. I feel like it'll never be the same; there will always be something between us, stopping words. My throat doesn't hurt anymore, but it's quieter than it was before.
I know they've already forgiven me. She told me to not worry about it. She told me it was okay. But it's still too quiet. Just not the same.
I find myself on my knees at , leaning against my mattress with my forehead. My throat feels tight again, "I promise that I'll never do that again. Please forgive me and help me to not mess up again." In the morning I feel fine. I was just being dramatic. After some time, we're on a family walk and I get a chance to use that perfectly planned and sharpened comeback. Voices raise and after a few minutes it's quiet again. I hate that silence.
Back on my knees, "Okay, this time I'm done for sure. I'll NEVER do it again."
On Sunday I have my face in my hands again, "Please forgive me."
Since I've been on my mission I've began to understand the word repentance. The Thai word for repentance is กลับใจ or Glap jai. It means "return heart". To turn your heart. What does that mean? Repentance is a turning; a turning from sin to God. A "mighty change of heart". We all make mistakes and these mistakes create feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings cannot be relieved without repentance and forgiveness. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you can be fully healed. He just asks us to "repent, and turn [ourselves] from all [of our] transgressions".
Before I was always scared of the word repent. It was something intimidating. I always imagined crying and confessing and feeling horrible, and then when it's all over we will never be the same, we are forever quiet and depressed. But we're clean. He has forgiven us. But that's not all, we must change, and then stay there.
As I learned Thai in the MTC the word Glap jai would always be spinning through my head. I began to understand what it really meant. Imagine that you're in a wide and spacious field and it's pitch black. There's a pretty tall mountain in the middle and at the top of that mountain there is a light. A massive light like the ones they use at sports arenas to light the field. The light isn't shining in any one specific direction, it's just shining. You are partway up the mountain. Of course walking uphill is hard, and we know that eventually the sun will come up, so you determine to walk downhill. The easy way. But then it gets darker and darker because you're farther and farther from that light. To the point where you stumble and trip. Some people blame the light because it wasn't bright enough to guide their path. Most stand up and keep walking downhill, where they fall more and more. Only a few will realize that it wasn't the light's fault that they tripped, it was theirs. They turn around, abandoning the path of least resistance and begin to walk back up the hill. Here we fall on our knees more and more because this mountain is steep. Here some people give up. They say it's too hard, it's impossible, or it doesn't even matter. They turn around and begin to walk down the hill, but their eyes have adjusted to the bright light, so they can't see much on the way down. They trip and begin to roll. We continue up the hill. We fall on our knees more and more, not because our path is dark, but because the it's steeper than before, and our knees are getting scraped up. But now we're a close-knit group. We pick each other up and we encourage each other. And we finally summit the mountain, collapsing into the arms of the Light.
The Savior has declared, "I am the light of the world". Sometimes we expect Jesus to run down to us at our beckon and bear us up the mountain. We think that with only the words, "I'm sorry, forgive me" we can receive forgiveness and keep walking in whatever "forbidden paths" we choose. Christ has asked us to follow Him and He has already borne the cross up the mountain. In order to follow Jesus Christ we must be willing to take the right way instead of the easy way. We must be willing to walk, and change, and turn towards the path of the Lord. We even promise that we "are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light". The journey towards eternal life is not a sprint to the finish line, nor is it a thin-legged marathon, it is one large migration to a more celestial world.
"Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord."
- Isaiah 2:5