General Conference Book Club Week 5: Elder Andersen

I loved all your great comments about last week’s talk.  When it comes to “schooling my feelings,” I’ve learned that I still have a lot of work to do.  Maybe that’s why I was drawn to our talk selection for this week:  “Repent . . . That I May Heal You” by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, given during the Saturday afternoon session of conference.


“The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to “re-turn” toward God.”

“Divine forgiveness is one of the sweetest fruits of the gospel, removing guilt and pain from our hearts and replacing them with joy and peace of conscience.”

“Sometimes in our repentance, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree-covered mountain, at times we don’t see our progress until we get closer to the top and look back from the high ridges.”

As women, we are so prone to guilt, to self-doubt, and to damning ourselves in our own minds.  I wonder how often this simple doctrine of repentance, when used sincerely and regularly, could purge us of that heaviness and literally lighten our souls, our outlook, and our understanding of our standing before the Lord.

You can read the talk here, or listen to it here, or watch it here.  Then share what you’ve learned right here in the comments.  (Click here to learn more about this book club if you’re arriving for the first time.)


19 thoughts on “General Conference Book Club Week 5: Elder Andersen

  1. This talk is pure gold. I am so glad I listened and read again. I had a moment of understanding when Elder Anderson said, “The forsaking of sins implies never returning. Forsaking requires time. To help us, the Lord at times allows the residue of our mistakes to rest in our memory. It is a vital part of our mortal learning.” That makes perfect sense!

    I also loved when he said, “As we improve, we see life more clearly and feel the Holy Ghost working more strongly within us.” I cannot think of another blessing that I’d want more than the Holy Ghost working more strongly with me. Especially as a mother! No self-help book or seminar can substitute for a change of heart. I believe that is what we all need- a change of heart – and many of the battles we fight every day will be won!

  2. Okay, I’m commenting as I’m listening to it, so sorry if my thoughts are disjointed! 🙂

    – Repentance is the Lord’s invitation to come unto Him and be wrapped in His arms. Repentance isn’t this hard thing that we HAVE to do. It’s an opportunity to be embraced by the Lord – something we GET to do.
    – The Savior is EAGER to forgive our sins. He’s just waiting for us to give them up!
    – Repenting is DAILY seeking the Lord’s help for needed changes. It’s not some huge thing. It’s asking for strength to do certain things (being patient or loving, etc.); it’s asking for courage to not do certain things (yell, etc.).
    – Repentance is a journey. It’s how we become closer to Christ and how we become more like Him.
    – Repentance should be focused – what is my weakness TODAY?
    – Again, it is our CHOICE. (I’m beginning to see an underlying theme of agency in the Conference talks!)
    – When we don’t listen after praying, our prayers lack faith. I’ve been studying the principle of faith this last month, so this intrigues me. The faith comes AFTER we pray – during that time, God tells us what ACTION we need to take.
    – I think one of the main reasons we don’t forget our past sins is so we can learn “Lessons from the Past.” (Elder Ballard’s talk in April) We learn from our own mistakes, and we remember our own mistakes, so we don’t repeat them again.
    – Repentance ALWAYS means that there is greater happiness ahead.

    • Laurie- I liked how you pointed out, “The Savior is EAGER to forgive our sins. He’s just waiting for us to give them up!” Isn’t it funny how hard it is sometimes…..especially when we should from experience see that there is so much more happiness awaiting us when when we do? This statement reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. An excellent read. Now I can’t wait to go read this talk again!

  3. I often wonder why we have such a hard time going to Him–He already knows whatever it is. We feel so much better when we let go of whatever it is that is weighing us down–sin or

    Don’t you love how Elder Anderson uses the different scriptures that describe His arms as being “open, extended, stretched out and encircling”. If we sit and ponder, I think we can feel them.

    One of my favorite lines in the talk is “Divine forgiveness is one of the sweetest fruits of the gospel, removing guilt and pain from our hearts and replacing them with joy and peace of conscience.”

    I’m so grateful that I can repent and pray every day that I will recognize the things I need to change. I have so far to go but I want to try each and every day to draw closer to Him, to become more like Him–that requires repentance. I know He is there to help–He wants to help. How blessed I am to know that He is always there.

    I think this is a talk I need to read again and again.

    I didn’t have a chance to participate last week.

  4. I love this quote, “The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to “re-turn” toward God.” So applicable to what Stephanie said about guilt prone and self-doubting women. Why would we ever want to keep that heavy cloak of burdens on us when we could open our minds to the “loving appeal to turn around and to “re-turn” toward God.” ?

    I also liked this one, “When we “pull the shades down,” we stop believing that spiritual voice inviting us to change. We pray but we listen less. Our prayers lack that faith that leads to repentance.”

  5. I hope this isn’t too long or personal, but I wanted to participate:
    Lately I’ve been feeling a strong desire to get things done. This is a good thing, of course. However, I keep getting overwhelmed by all of the different things that I want to do and worrying that I won’t be able to accomplish everything before the baby comes in January. Maybe it’s some sort of “emotional nesting,” but my “To Do” list seems to be miles long.
    Predictably, many of the things I want to accomplish are things that need to be done around the house. It still needs work in many areas. Other things are big projects like “finish the toddler’s baby book,” “figure out how to get this new camera to take good pictures,” and “get the toddler potty-trained.” Then there’s the usual list of all the ways that I need to change and all the things that I should do to improve my daily life. And more importantly, not just changing what I do, but ultimately who I am.
    This talk by Elder Anderson was enlightening to me. He said this: “A better approach is to humbly petition the Lord: ‘Father, what wouldst Thou have me do?’ The answers come. We feel the changes we need to make. The Lord tells us in our mind and in our heart.”
    This had been a fervent prayer of mine lately. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I kept hoping that one thing would come to me, and I would know what the most important thing to change was. After all, I just don’t see things as clearly as I should. I don’t want to spend all my energy on having a perfectly clean home or cooking everything from scratch if the Lord is actually more concerned that I’m not playing with my kids very much or serving outside of my own family.
    As I’ve been waiting for an answer to my prayers, I’ve been researching and investigating and trying to figure everything out on my own. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out a good food storage system for us, I’ve tried to discover the perfect healthy eating plan, I’ve been pondering how to instigate a good exercise program, how to design the perfect budget… and so on.
    I kept hoping that one thing would stand out to me and that I could focus on that while letting everything else slide for awhile. After all, I can’t do everything at once.
    However, when the answer to my prayers finally came, I was surprised. It was pretty simple, and went something like this: “Just do it.”
    “Just do what?” I wondered. The answer came again: “A little bit of all of it…you can do it. Don’t get overwhelmed. Just do it.”
    That was not at all what I was expecting. I wanted one thing that I could work on until it was perfect. Instead, the idea of doing everything was a little daunting. But I decided to give it a try. And strangely enough, I’m fitting in more of “everything” than I thought was possible.
    I can read my scriptures every day, and say my prayers, and do the same as a family.
    For the past few months, I could never find the time to exercise, but well, now I just do it—30 minutes every day, whatever type of exercise I want. I won’t be running a marathon anytime soon, but at least I’m doing something.
    It turns out that I can cook a semi-healthy dinner most nights, even when I don’t feel like it. Sometimes the meals are really simple, but if I make the choice, I can always cook dinner instead of going out. Incidentally, that takes care of our main budgeting problem, too.
    I can blog or write in my journal every day, even if I don’t say much.
    I can mostly keep the house clean.
    I can work on my childbirth preparation course.
    I can help my son with his homework and work on some of the projects around the house.
    And here is one that doesn’t take any extra time—I don’t need a fancy diet plan, because I can simply NOT EAT the Halloween candy, or ice cream, or cookies.
    Every Sunday, I can fit in some time to work on my genealogy.
    But here’s what I can’t do right now: spend lots of time every day reading blogs, read a novel every few days, or extensively research everything about everything.
    Maybe this isn’t too impressive to most of you, but it was a bit of paradigm shift for me. And I can almost hear all of you thinking, “But Corri, you can’t do everything! Don’t think that way! You’ll get burned out!” I know, but I think that the key is that instead of trying to do everything perfectly, or waiting until I have the perfect plan in place, just doing a little bit of all the important things is good progress for me.
    Now that I’ve figured this out, I have about 2 ½ months until the baby comes. When the new little one arrives, I know that everything will go completely haywire and I won’t be able to do much of anything. But I hope that if I can use my time wisely until then, I will be able to reap the blessings of having “just done” some of the small, but important things.

    • Hi Corri,
      I know that myself and others have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately, so I can totally empathise with you.
      Prayer is such a powerful tool. We can seek guidance, we can receive revelation, we can be shown our weaknesses and how to overcome them, we can repent and pray for the strength to do better.
      This week, I also tried to tackle small projects and by the middle of the week I felt much better. The to-do list was just as long – but the action of “doing” really helps to relieve some of those feelings of being overwhelmed.

      All the best for your new baby!

    • I loved your comment! I think that I seem to bob back and forth between being able to “just do it” and worrying about how nothing seems to be perfect. Maybe someday I’ll learn the lesson for good that if I can “just do” what I can do, the Savior will make up for the rest.

      I also have noticed that when I am trying to “just do it” all that I really find more time than I otherwise thought I had….and I’m happier.

      • Corri,

        I am very thankful for your personal experience. Over the past couple of years I have struggled with “how am I going to get everything I want to accomplish done?” In September, I had bi-lateral knee scopes and had the opportunity to be home “FULL TIME” once again. By “full time” I mean no work, no school, no nothing to take me away from spending precious time with my family. I had been yearning for that for many, many months.

        Well, the time was well spent. I didn’t do much of anything, but be a “MOM”. I have been carrying around alot of guilt since I have gone to work and have felt that the place I need to be is home. But due to our “plan” to get my husband through school it is necessary I continue to work and provide for our family. I have asked Heavenly Father for guidance and direction and also asked to be forgiven for returning to work after so many years of being a stay at home mom.

        I know I have been forgiven. He of all people knows what He wants us to do and being a Nurse is something He wants for me and my family. He lead me and guided me to this profession, but now I need to trust that He will do his part and “heal me” as I repent and go through each day.

        What I feel so strongly about and impressed to share is that Heavenly Father wants us to be happy :). He wants us to come to Him so He can “heal us” so that we can move on. The guilt needs to be handed over to Him and He will pick up the rest.

        Again, thank you for your post. I have been given guidance on what I need to do through your experience. Thank you.

  6. This talk is so wonderful. It home to me in a very personal way, and before I comment on this talk in particular, I want to say how amazed I am of the tender mercies of the Lord. I haven’t commented on each talk we’ve done so far, but I’ve read them all. And each one was the exact one I needed to read at that particular time. Stephanie, you must really be in tune with the spirit when you choose the talks to study. Thank you!

    I loved how hopeful this talk was. Sometimes talks on repentence make me feel a little overwhelmed and kind of poopy (maybe that’s a sign of my own spiritually maturity). But this was didn’t make me feel that way at all. It reminded me how loved I am even though I make mistakes and need repent.

    I learned that I don’t need to feel bad that I need to repent. Everybody does- it’s part of life. It reminded me of the importance of the sacrament. This wasn’t in the talk, but the other day I was reading in Book of Mormon, and it talked about repenting and being baptized. I often wonder why they always say that- repent and be baptized. For people like me, we’ve already been baptized since we were eight years old. But I realized you can look at it a different way. Each time we take the sacrament, it is like we are baptized again. So you could read it as “Repent and renew your covenants.” Elder Andersen said “Our weekly taking of the sacrament is so important- to come meekly, humbly before the Lord, acknowledging our dependence upon Him, asking Him to forgive and to renew us, and promising to always remember Him.” The sacrament is so crucial to this life!

    I also loved this quote that speaks for itself: “Sometimes in our repentence, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree covered mountain, at times we don’t see our progress until we get closer to the top and back from the high ridges. Don’t be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting.”

    My final favorite quote: “The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisment but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to ‘re-turn’ to God. It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments. Being disciples of Christ, we rejoice in the blessing of repenting and the joy of being forgiven. They become part of us, shaping the way we think and feel.”

    In a very personal and private way, I have felt exactly what Elder Andersen describes. I can attest that it’s true. The Savior loves and wants us to re-turn to him.

    • Marianne~

      I would have to agree with the quote of our struggles. It seems like the same struggles keep coming into my life. There are days I feel like I have a grip on them and have overcome the problem but then . . .something triggers a change reaction and I am no better off than before.

      Elder Anderson”s quote:(“Sometimes in our repentence, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree covered mountain, at times we don’t see our progress until we get closer to the top and back from the high ridges. Don’t be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting.”) has given me a new hope to continue forward, to not give up and most of all to continue to repent so that I may be healed. I guess, when we struggle with the same thing over and over eventually we do see our progress and even though we take two steps forward and one step back we are progressing and can see how far we come.

      Thanks for your insight.

  7. Just finished the talk. Wonderful. I feel like he is talking right to me. It was the reminder that I have needed: I know that the Lord wants me to make some changes, but I have been “pulling the shades down over our open window…” I needed to read Alma’s warning to “not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point.”

    I must say thankyou to those who have all ready commented – I learn so much from the things you say. I’d like to hug Corri, because what she said was very inspring. The same with Marianne.

    One final though ~ I loved the image of the Savior’s arm that he tells. I have felt those arms, and I need to remember that feeling because I never felt such love.

  8. What a great talk. There are a few things that I got from this. Repentance is not a one time thing. It is something we have to continue doing daily. It is something WE have to do and no one can step in and do it for us. I also like the thought that we feel like we are repenting for the same things over and over. But really we don’t see the small steps we are making. I felt such love from his talk and helped remind me that it doesn’t matter what I have done. He knows already and is there waiting with open arms.

  9. This talk was great. During family study this week, our conversation turned towards repentence. I was able to share some of Elder Anderson’s thoughts about repentence with the children (aged 8, 7, 4 and 2). Hubby and I testified that if we repent Heavenly Father will no longer remember the sin (isn’t that the most wonderful thing for our kids to know!). I didn’t realise it at the time that I was quoting from Elder Anderson, I was just repeating some of the strong impressions that had been left from General Conference. As I re-listened to the talk tonight, I realised that it was from this talk! I feel so blessed to be able to use the General Conference talks as tools to help me in my parenting journey.

  10. I could go on and on and on about this talk, but I’ll try to restrain myself. When I picked it on Sunday, I didn’t know how much I’d need it.

    I managed to unintentionally offend someone this week and things blew up and left me stunned. I had to walk through this whole repentance process and it was humbling and hard. But I learned a lot of things along the way about how gentle the Lord is with us when we repent; He doesn’t judge us nearly as harshly as others do because He knows our hearts. He also lets us know that we can and should improve, but doesn’t leave us alone in those efforts.

    I absolutely loved the whole concept of how we make the same mistakes over and over again but don’t recognize that we are in the process of repenting and making progress that we can’t see. And then tied into that, he reminded the importance of the sacrament. I’ve just been impressed lately with how patient the Lord is even with our frequently recurring mistakes, and how accepting he is of our desire to do better. It really is about turning and re-turning to him; I think we get closer and closer to Him all the time and he welcomes us, dumb mistakes and all, like Elder Andersen said, with arms outstretched.

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