Stefanie is a young woman of incredible humor. She loves to laugh, she enjoys making other people happy. In fact, in her yearbook, her classmates dubbed her as the beautiful class clown. When you’re with Stef, there is no dull moment. The happy view she has of life is contagious.
However, Stef wasn’t that bubbly girl anymore when she sat down with me one day. With tears in her eyes, she confided in me that she had broken a commandment she had known since she was a child. With a voice of resignation, Stef said: “I feel like it’s too late for me to come back to the Lord. To be honest, it seems like my chance to change has been used up. I don’t think any repentance can bring back my confidence.”
You can imagine how heartbreaking it was for me to see one of the young women I love and admire sink into hopelessness and desperation. With an aching heart that reached out to her, I lovingly told her that her chance to change isn’t used up yet, none of ours are. For every Stefanie out there, for everyone who feels that they’re too late, and that all hope is lost for them—it isn’t.
When God the Father presented the Plan of Salvation, all His children were there. You and I were there. He explained “all about earth and eternal salvation for man.” Since the Father knew that earth life wouldn’t be easy or free from trials and temptations, He sent a Savior in the personage of Jesus Christ. Father knew exactly that although we would know right from wrong, we would still make unwise decisions.
In this world we are subject to Satan’s temptations, and give in at times. But not only are we susceptible to his cunning enticements, we are also a target for his lies. And one of the greatest lies he could ever whisper to our minds is this: that we can no longer repent and come back to the presence of the Father.
Like Stefanie, when one commits a serious sin, the first question that they often feel to ask is, “How can I possibly get out of this predicament?” This question is followed by desperate inquiries as to whether there is still a chance to change, if there is a way to combat the shame, or if they could ever be forgiven. Satan grabs the opportunity to whisper lies like “It’s too late for you to change” or “You are already so deep in sin, what makes you think that you can be forgiven?” Undoubtedly, these are some of the worst lies you can listen to. Those who succumb to these deceptions often lose hope of changing, or repentance and continue in sin.
But the Lord’s encouragement is the complete opposite of Satan’s lies; He invites us to come back to His presence so He can heal us. One example of this is when Christ visited the Nephites. Before His coming, wickedness was rampant among the Nephites. Murder, corruption, and pride were all over. When Christ came, He asks them:
“…will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” (3 Nephi 9:13)
Contrary to Satan’s lies, it is the Savior’s desire for us to change and come back to Him. This was lovingly illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son taught by the Savior Himself. Despite the son’s transgressions (and they were heavy ones), the Father still welcomed his long-lost child with open arms and a heart full of happiness and love.
When our hearts are full of guilt, we are especially vulnerable to Satan’s deceptions. After disappointing the Lord, it is difficult to kneel down once again and ask for forgiveness. The guilt, the regret, and the fear that we have already sinned too much can weigh us down. However, this beautiful quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland that inspiration to doubtful souls:
“…however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s atonement shines.”
What a beautiful message especially for those who feel they’re too late. To Stefanie and to others who feel that it’s no longer worth it, listen more to the voice of the Savior inviting you to come back to Him. There is nothing else that He wants for you than to see you freed from the burden of guilt and regret. He wants you to change and heal. Listen to His voice.
This new year, may we all find the courage, the faith, and the testimony of the Atonement to help us come back to the Lord’s open arms. There will always be a chance to change waiting for us. I know the Lord loves us and He wants us back. Let us trust that love more than Satan’s lies.