I scraped my arm yesterday while loading the car for a trip with my family. As a result, I now have a pretty smooth red line across my forearm. I was noticing last night how quickly my skin was recovering from the assault, and pondered on how and why that was the case. My wounds tend to take a good while to heal, because I have a bad habit of picking at the scabs. This scratch just barely avoided drawing blood, though, so there was no scab to pick. But that is all just the start.
We talk a lot about repentance in terms of healing. I thought of that last night, looking at my arm as I brushed my teeth. I thought how sin is so much like a cut or scrape than we realize sometimes. Some cuts are less serious and we can care for them on our own, but sometimes they require more professional medical attention. Sins are the same way. Some can be settled between us and the Lord, while others require the assistance of another who is qualified to help us get through the healing process.
Ignoring the issue is never advisable. Cuts must be cleaned in order to avoid the risk of infection. Likewise, even “minor” sins need to be cleansed through repentance. We must acknowledge the sin, confess it, and ask the Lord and any whom we have wronged for forgiveness. If we neglect this process, like neglecting to clean an open wound, what seems like a minor issue now can develop into an infection that is much more toxic.
Looking at the scratch on my arm, I realized that the fact that I had been unable to pick at the scab (because it didn’t exist) meant the skin was healing much more rapidly than it otherwise would have. Though I obviously never intend to impede my healing, or harm myself in any way, by picking at scabs, that is the result. In a spiritual sense, I thought of how we “pick at scabs” and hinder our healing when we don’t take the repentance process seriously. Being too close to the situations that led to sin in the first place, or not making the appropriate efforts to avoid similar temptations, can lead us to make the same mistakes several times over–reopening the wound and destroying the progress that had previously been made. Continually picking at scabs (never letting them heal properly) will lead to scarring. Though the skin may heal to a point where it no longer bleeds or even seems vulnerable, there is a permanent mark left memorializing the painful experience.
Sins seem to parallel this as well. Even once repentance is complete, we are not the same person we were before. And that is just as it should be. We should learn from our experiences, and we should let the repentance process help us to become better than we were. Allowing ourselves to be cleansed and made new does not rid us entirely of the memory of the past. Spiritual “scars” enable us to retain just enough of the experience to avoid being doomed to repeat it.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is beautiful and powerful, and the only thing strong enough to counteract the effects of sin in our lives. It is the means that allows our wounds to be cleansed, and the power by which we can be made whole.
I have personally experienced the blessings and healing power of Christ’s infinite sacrifice and am eternally indebted to Him for all that He has done for me. The Atonement is real, and powerful. If we accept the Savior into our lives, He can heal all of our wounds, no matter how big or how small.