The man's voice boomed as he talked in the echoey entrance of the Rec Center.
"I just got sealed to my family about 2 months ago. It was so neat. We were kneeling across the alter and they brought the kids in. I feel like I've gotten a second life!"
He was just launching into how well his business was doing when I slipped out the front door. I don't have any idea what his "first life" entailed. But the fact that he has had a complete turn around and now felt the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ was evident.
This is the miracle of repentance.
Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it is a miracle available to all of us.
Sadly, many of us (me included) wrongly think that we don't really need repentance. After all repentance is for guys like the man in my story, people who don't have a temple recommend--addicts, adulterers, people who don't pay their tithing. You know. "Those" people.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said of this, "Even when free from major transgression, we can develop self-contentment instead of seeking self-improvement.... Repentance is not solely for the renouncing of transgression. [It is] reflective of our total progression."
He went on to say, "If we were more meek, brothers and sisters, repentance would be much more regular and less stared at."
In Elder L. Tom Perry's most recent talk on the sabbath and the sacrament, he reminded us that each Sunday should be a time of reflecting on where we have gone amiss both in offense to God as well as to our fellow man. To ponder on these things--our faults and failings--then turn them over to God is how we offer our sacraments unto the Lord.
To truly repent, we may need to seek out those we have offended. This is humbling. But, oh the sweet peace of conscience after we have done so!
Sometimes, as we reflect we may think of someone we offended from so long ago that we no longer know how to get in touch with them. Or we may think of someone who never knew of our unkind actions or feelings toward them. How can we make amends in such a situation? For me, writing a letter, sometimes even reading it aloud to a chair or a nonjudgmental friend, can bridge that gap. And then putting into action that final most difficult step of repentance, changing. Becoming a new creature in Christ. Allowing the grace of God, the mercy of the Atonement, to help us not to make that same mistake or offense in the future.
To be sure, we are works in progress. We will fail some days. But with the help of the Atonement we will succeed on others. And soon all things become possible through Christ which strengtheneth us.