Thursday, April 2, 2009

Becoming Whole Through Repentance

As a victim healing from abuse, what role can repentance play in the healing process? Have I taken the steps needed to repent of wrongs and sins in my life?

"Repentance involves recognition of our imperfections, remorse for having strayed, restitution where appropriate, and resolve that the transgression will never be repeated." Royden Derrick, Ensign, May 1989

In the process of healing we often turn our thoughts to those who have wronged and hurt us. It is easy to pint our finger in blame towards those who sin against us, yet we sometimes fail to recognize our own faults and misdeeds.

The healing process requires that we not only forgive others, but that we also take a careful moral inventory of ourselves. When we see a need to repent, we must take the necessary action to correct our mistakes. If left unchecked our sins will grow and become bitter pains in our thoughts and in our hearts. "Sin is like cancer in the body. It will never heal itself. It will become progressively worse unless cured through the medicine of repentance. You can be made completely whole, new, purified, and clean every whit, through the miracle of repentance." (Richard G. Scott, Ensigh, May 1986)

In April Conference 1986, Elder Richard G. Scott said the following. "If you, through poor judgment, were to cover your shoes with mud, would you leave them that way? Of course not. You would cleanse and restore them. Would you then gather the residue of the mud and place it in an envelope to show others the mistake that you made? No. Neither should you continue to relive forgiven sin. Every time such thoughts come into your mind, turn your heart in gratitude to the Savior, who gave His life that we, through faith in Him and obedience to His teachings, can overcome transgression and conquer its depressing influence in our lives." (Ensigh, May 1986)

As abuse victims, we often have poor models for behavior growing up. We have a lot of psychological trauma that permeates every aspect of our lives. Many times we do not know how to handle certain situations appropriately, and often our thoughts and behaviors are negative toward ourselves and others. Because of the hurt we have been through, we hurt others--intentionally or not. Many abuse victims turn to drugs, alcohol, violence, and other addicting behaviors in an attempt to self-medicate the pain they deal with.

I have found that I have a number of things to work on. I have a lot of anger that stems from the abuse I endured. It is difficult to find an appropriate way to handle my hurt, anger, and frustration, and often I lash out at those I care about most. I also have the urge to run away from my problems. When I feel I cannot handle a tough situation, I want to crawl in bed and hide--or get as far away from it as possible. In the process I have hurt many people, most of all my husband, my parents, and my siblings. It is a daily struggle for me to overcome the negative habits I have learned. They are so deep-rooted within me I sometimes feel I can never change.

But like Elder Scott said, sin is like cancer. And, like the process of healing from cancer, it can be very long, frustrating, and painful. There may be relapses. But with the help of the Savior we can be made whole, and send our cancer into remission.

I know that it is possible to change. There have been many things I have learned to change over the long years of repentance. It may take a lifetime and beyond to completely remove the negative effects of abuse, but it is possible.