Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. -PJ O'Rourke
Question #15239 posted on 05/23/2005 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

So here's the deal. I did something bad--going slightly too far with my boyfriend--and I felt bad about it. I've decided, and stuck with my decision, never to do it again or even get CLOSE to doing it again, I've prayed over and over, I've read my scriptures for counsel faithfully since, and now I don't know what else I need to do. I think I feel okay about it, so does that mean I've repented and been forgiven? If I simply "feel" forgiven, is that enough? What is the point where I need to see a bishop? Is this is one of those things where if I'm wondering, I need to? I can't decide now if this is guilt or simple curiosity.

Also, and this is the really confusing part, I didn't feel super bad about it all the time. I usually have a very strong conscience, and so I'm confused by this--have my senses simply been dulled? Was it not as bad as I thought? How can I get in better touch with the Spirit so I can figure these things out?

--Let's keep this anonymous

A: Dear Anonymous,

You've asked a lot of questions, but your biggest one seems to be: "Should I talk to my bishop or not?" I'm going to suggest that you do talk to him, not because I think you might accidently not repent enough otherwise (I'm in no position to judge) but because I think your bishop will be able to counsel you regarding all of your questions.

Just to recap:

"What is the point where I need to see a bishop?"

I think that you and I both know what is definitely "too far" and we probably both know what is definitely not bad enough to warrant talking to your bishop. As far as the grey areas in between go, it's up to you and to your conscience. I imagine that you'll feel much better for talking to him, even if you didn't "have to," based on what you did. And, frankly, if your sin was fairly minor, he'll be relieved that's all you have to confess.

"I think I feel okay about it, so does that mean I've repented and been forgiven? If I simply 'feel' forgiven, is that enough?"

Good question. For me, repentance involves self-examination to figure out why I behaved the way I did, actively seeking those I have injured to repair damage and restore lost trust, and a period of study, prayer and thought to try and change my future behavior, as well as asking my Father for forgiveness. Aside from that, some people have an underdeveloped sense of guilt, and some people feel guilty when they shouldn't. Part of repentance is truly forgiving yourself when you have done all you can to right some wrong. Your bishop will be able to give you a lot more counsel about forgiveness and repentance.

"I usually have a very strong conscience, and so I'm confused by this--have my senses simply been dulled? Was it not as bad as I thought?"

Were you already in a situation where you should have known better? Were you in a situation where it would might have been difficult to have good judgement?

Without knowing exactly what you did, I can't tell you if it was "that bad." Even if I did know the details, I don't have the experience or the stewardship to give you good advice on the matter. Your bishop does.

"How can I get in better touch with the Spirit so I can figure these things out?"

It's easy to give the standard Sunday School answers to this question: prayer, meditation, reading your scriptures. Those things are not to be taken lightly, but your bishop will definitely be able to give you counsel specific to your situation.

- Katya