The Longer Ones

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Truth and a Lie

To the missionary department,

The biggest change in repentance is a change in oneself. At the beginning of the repentance process, it feels good to admit to your mistakes. It felt cathartic to finally say the truth. In the mission field, I could barely even teach about repentance of your sins because I felt hypocritical that I didn't repent for mine. Finally, I said the truth and my life was well but then came pain. Throughout the first few months, it stopped feeling like a release and started feeling like a reminder of my weaknesses. I was genuinely depressed, I entered a grunge phase that made middle school seem like Disney World, and every time I read my scriptures I felt like a failure that I fell in the first place. I needed that though. 

"And except they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions and thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me" (Mosiah 11:25). Repenting in sackcloth and ashes is an ancient symbol of humility and asking for forgiveness before the Lord. And though personally, I've never gone through the action of wearing sackcloth and ashes, I am glad that I was able to fall farther than I thought. Because I believe that it was only at that moment that I was able to humble myself enough to open my mind and understand repentance and the Atonement a little bit deeper. 

Jesus Christ came down to Earth, in mortal existence, in the most literal condescension of God, and gave himself so each one of us has a chance to come back to our loving Heavenly Father and see our family again. In the mission field, I did my best to teach this principle, but never have I dreamt to learn it with such personal conviction. Often though this principle seems so far away, because as missionaries we're so obedient and try to be far from sin, those things don't change the fact that Jesus Christ died for us... died for you and me. Whether it's a small sin or a big one, he has experienced it all so that we can have a chance to be forgiven. This experience has helped me feel more love towards the Savior because whenever I ask for forgiveness I can feel his warm embrace. Whenever I make a choice I remember his sacrifice and am reminded that agency was never free. Whenever I think about repentance and the Atonement it makes me appreciate his sacrifice for us even more, because though my sins hurt, that minuscular agony gave me a better understanding of the pain and love he felt in the garden of Gethsemane and the cross.

In this letter, there is one lie. Or at least, I hope that it's a lie. The biggest change in repentance shouldn't be in oneself, but in every person around them and in everyone else that's willing to listen. In this letter, I hope that I've proven my love for the Savior and his everlasting Atonement for us, but it is my hope and pleasure that I can serve as His representative in sharing this truth with the rest of the world. One of the last things I learned is to get over yourself. Getting over one's pride, one's reputation, oneself; and if that's true I do not believe I repented for myself. I chose to repent to heal my relationship with my friends, my fellow missionaries, and the God that I love. And I believe that by serving as a missionary I can continue to do that and share what I know is true if you let me.


Elder Villanueva

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