Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Broken Plate

I posted about my talk on the atonement in sacrament meeting a while back.

In it, I introduced my metaphor about the broken plate to illustrate repentance.  Just the other night, however, I was awake contemplating how my analogy was incomplete, and I felt strongly that I should further include the thoughts I am having in addition to it now.

To review this analogy, I related sin to breaking a plate.  I'll add more detail to this post to expand it a little more.

I break a plate.  Oops.  The first step to using the atonement is to recognize the sin.  "I did that."  Those three words can sometimes be the hardest words to think, let alone utter aloud.  Sometimes we find ourselves justifying it.  "Well, the soap and water made the plate slippery."  "It isn't my fault."  "It isn't that big of a deal, we have lots more plates."  "I can just buy another plate, so this one doesn't matter."  "Well, if he hadn't pushed my elbow."  Whatever the excuse, it's a lie.  The plate is broken.  The fact remains.  "I broke the plate."  This can be hard to do sometimes because we don't want to acknowledge our guilt because it's painful.  Guilt hurts because often we are trying so hard to do our best in life, and although we know we cannot be perfect, we still don't like to recognize the black spots in our record.  Sometimes it seems easier to just ignore or justify it.  But it's not easier.  It leaves the weight on our shoulders, a weight that can be too much to bear.

So first we must recognize and take responsibility for the sin.  "I broke the plate."  Then we must feel Godly sorrow for the sin.  Usually we feel bad about it, sure enough.  But there is a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.  Godly sorrow= "I feel guilty that I broke the plate.  It was a mistake that is mine and I wish I hadn't done it."  Worldly sorrow=  "I am ashamed of myself because I broke the plate, and this means I am no longer worthy to handle any future plates.  I am not worth it because I did this."  Tell the difference?  Godly sorrow is feeling guilty for a sin.  Worldly sorrow if feeling shame for self.  Another version of Worldly sorrow= "I feel ashamed of myself because I broke the plate.  Woe is me.  Others need to feel sorry for me too."  Ok, enough about that.

Let's choose this one.  "I feel guilty because I broke the plate and I wish I hadn't."  Next step?  Forsaking the sin.  "I won't break any more plates.  I promise to be more careful.  I promise to be better."  Sometimes in spite of our efforts to forsake the sin, we still will break another plate, but we must remember Godly sorrow and just work through it again.  Because if we break one plate or a thousand, the atonement still works the same.  But we must continue repenting and trying our best to forsake.

After this, we are to confess.  Sometimes the plate is rather special, and we have to go to the Bishop as well as the Lord to confess the sin and get the help needed for repentance.  Sometimes the plate belonged to someone else and so we have to go to them and confess that we have broken their plate.  Sometimes the plate is our own and we must confess and apologize to ourselves.  "I'm sorry.  I broke your plate.  Please forgive me."  That's the next step.

Forgiveness.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive others.  Put it behind you.  Drop the weight.  Hand it to the Savior.  Then continue to keep the commandments.  Don't break any more plates.

Ok, so this is my analogy.  Seems complete?

Well, there was one more thing I said about when you break the plate.  If you break a plate and then say, "I'm sorry."  Is the plate magically not broken?  No.  It's something I say to my kids, actually.  I tell them, "The plate is still broken." to remind them there is more work to do then simply saying "sorry" and going on as if it didn't happen.  Of course, an apology needs to be heartfelt and real.  After breaking a plate, it does no good to softly whisper "I'm sorry." under our breath and then sweep all the pieces under a rug or into a trash can.  We have to try to make it better.

So I've said "The plate is still broken." as a reminder to do what I can to mend what was broken.  Glue it back together, piece by piece.  It's true, I must do my best to fix things after I've made a mistake.  I need to make reconciliation, make peace, pay someone back, do what I can to fix or pay for what I have done.

But then this is incomplete.  I am left with this question.
What if the plate is just too broken?
What if it can't be fixed?
What if it's been shattered into so many tiny pieces there is no way to glue them together again?
What if it's impossible?

Now THIS is what the atonement is about.

When we cannot do it ourselves, we must pick up the pieces and give them to the Savior.  Because the Savior can make everything right again.  He already has.  He has already paid for, picked up, and mended all of our mistakes.  All we have to do is surrender the pieces and let Him do it for us.

All too often we get caught up in trying...and TRYING to mend it all on our own.  But we simply cannot do it on our own.  But the Savior can!  We just have to give it all to Him and TRUST Him with those fragile pieces, without holding anything back.

I really wish I had included that part in my talk in sacrament meeting, because my analogy simply wasn't complete without it.

Let's break down repentance and the use of the atonement into even smaller baby steps (which helped me a ton!):

First, honestly admit to everything to myself.
Then believe God can help! (Without believing it, we cannot go further.)
Next, trust in that hope by deciding to let Him.
Accept the whole entire truth, about my sins, weaknesses, and faults
Confess these to someone, perhaps proper priesthood authority as necessary, or a friend
Next I must change my heart, in order to truly forsake.
Humbly ask Heavenly Father to help to change my heart, and give it over to Him
Seek forgiveness from myself, and then seek forgiveness from others I have harmed
Then I must hold myself accountable daily, in everything I do and say
With the change of heart, my desires then change, and I seek the Lord's will for my every single day through personal revelation.
And lastly, I share my testimony and lovingly serve other people, because that's what this life is all about.

I got these baby steps through this amazing LDS church program!

I love this program with all of my heart and I recommend anyone from anywhere to work these baby steps to the atonement because they work.  They have strengthened my relationship with the Savior beyond what I ever thought possible.  These steps are not just for a certain kind of sin, they can be used for any kind of sin.  I've seen nothing like it.  So go to that link and read it, and journal about it, and apply it.  You're welcome. :)