Yesterday I heard a story in Sunday School. It came from a man whose wife’s father was a bishop years ago in a small town in Idaho. His ward had a lot of Word of Wisdom problems (alcohol and tobacco use). He had a hard time finding people who would accept callings. Then he was inspired to do something a bit unusual.
He called a woman to be Relief Society president, but the only problem was that she ran a bar in town.
Well, they got through that part. The woman accepted the calling and it changed her life. She went on to be a wonderful Relief Society president.
Sometime after that, this bishop was visiting with another woman, discussing this former bar manager turned servant of God. The discussion went something like this.
“I just can’t get used to this woman being Relief Society president!” said the woman.
“How is she doing?” asked the bishop.
“She is doing great, but in my mind I keep seeing her with a cigarette in one hand an a high ball in the other.”
“Do you know what your problem is?”
“You have too long of a memory. Even the Lord doesn’t remember that far back.”
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. –D&C 58:43
To what degree does the Lord remember our sins after we have repented of them? He says that he doesn’t remember them anymore. I don’t understand how this works, but I trust that it does, that it is true.
If the Lord promises to forget our sins after we have repented of them, can’t we just accept that? When God makes a promise, He keeps it. Why should we remember what God has forgotten?
We hold on because we doubt. We say to ourselves, “He doesn’t really forget.” Doubt is a chain that binds us to everything that is negative, past or future. Doubt is often intellectual laziness. Or it’s a form of blame. It is a false belief that we cannot find answers for ourselves, that someone else is responsible for getting those answers, not us.
When we fetter ourselves with the mistaken belief that we and others can’t go on with our lives and leave our sins behind us, we don’t move forward. We are stuck. Maybe forgiveness, of ourselves and others, is the spiritual WD40 we need to get unstuck.
But the verse doesn’t say that we should forget our sins. Remembering them is a protection. It’s a moat around our castle, and while our castle is under construction, we need to remember. At least a little.
I’ve notice that when we deal with our mistakes honestly, openly, and sincerely, trusting in a power higher than ourselves, confessing to whom we should confess, the memory of those mistakes no longer crushes us. Those memories are neutralized. We are free. We still may remember them, but we are free to move forward. We are unstuck.
I don’t want to hold back anyone from moving forward. I choose not to remember their sins. (And many of them, for the life of me, I can’t remember.) If you are making and keeping your covenants, what does the past matter when your future is so bright?
I’ll remember my foolishness only long enough to keep me from getting into trouble again. But I’ll keep the drawbridge up. I’m staying in the castle.