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By Bernard Gui
In sacrament meeting today, a brother announced that he had been asked to give a talk about President Oaks’ April Conference address. Most of the time, this type of talk is like a book report “Elder Oaks said this....,” “then Elder Oaks said that.....” I prefer to read the book myself rather than hear someone’s rehash of it.
Today, however, was not one of those days. Today was transformational. Taking this quote as his starting point
our speaker gave perhaps the best sermon I have ever heard and felt on repentance. He said at first he worried that his words might not be appropriate, but then he came to the conclusion that what he had to say was what the Lord wanted him to say. He told his story...
A life-long member, seminary graduate, returned missionary young man who had made some very poor choices and ended up in many years of inactivity, moral degradation, addiction, depression, homelessness, self-loathing, and despondency. At a point when he was making the decision whether or not to live any longer, he thought of his father. He called him and asked if they could meet. They agreed and at that visit in their home, his father gave him a blessing during which the slate was wiped clean. Embraced by his parents, from that moment he began to take the steps that would restore his spirit, mind, and body through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Now three years later, he is sealed to a sister from our ward who had earlier suffered at the hands of an abusive ex-husband. They and their little baby boy are now a healthy and whole loving family. God be praised!
There were many tearful eyes in the congregation, and some wept openly. We did not know of his journey, only that he had come as a great blessing into the life of our friend. I am sure many were thinking of loved ones they fear have slipped forever away from the path into forbidden areas from which there will be no return. Or perhaps there were those who are having similar feelings of uselessness and despair themselves. As the Spirit bore witness, we were given the hope that “Where will this lead?” does not necessarily have be to tragedy, but rather to deliverance, and redemption, and joy. It is possible for all of us.
Thanks to this good brother for sharing his story of repentance, and thanks be to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Is the right Church or creed the important thing, or is there something else we came here to learn? I'm interested to hear what everyone believes and why they believe it. That would add to our understanding of each other. We have a good mix of people here. I wonder if we could talk about our first person experiences on the subject and support it with simple faith, scriptures, opinion without putting anyone on the spot about their beliefs. Maybe another way to frame the question is "What is the point of all this? What is the purpose of this life? Is it to embrace a certain belief, or is it to live a certain way?" Or is it something else?
I hesitate, somewhat (though probably not enough), to do this. (Fools rush in ... ) Though names, locales, other identifying details, and surrounding circumstances have been changed for dramatic purposes, real-life, flesh-and-blood people are involved, and perhaps this cuts through the flesh to the muscle, and through the muscle to the bone. Some time ago, I wrote a piece of "faction" ... factual fiction ... about a relationship in which I was involved once, and about the metamorphosis of a young lady for whom I once cared a great deal. Though we're no longer as young as we once were, and though she long since has moved on, on some level, I care for her still. I've tried hard to move on, too, and I'm not really very big on "pining" for anyone. Hopefully no one gets the idea that that's what this is about. I'm posting this in General Discussions in hopes that it attracts broader attention and wider traffic before the Mods decide to move it to Social Hall.
Love and marriage figure somewhere in here, of course. It is a romance, after all. I'm not necessarily interested in focusing more than in passing on those topics. Hopefully, we can also avoid turning this into yet another thread about gay marriage. I'm more interested in exploring broader themes of repentance, of forgiveness, of change, of metamorphosis, of what it means to recognize our identity as Children of God with a divine heritage and potential, and so on. Anyway, without further ado, I give you the first chapter/installment of Deanna: A Story of Love and Change.