Several years ago, I carried in my computer bag a mind-altering substance and a thumb drive containing pornographic images. I hope in making this confession, I am not judged too harshly. I mention this because it is a good example of what I’d like to talk about. I carried these “drugs” because I earlier in my life I engaged in these activities and formed habits and addictions that served to dull the pain I sometimes felt about issues such as poor self-image, unhealthy sexual desires, and stress that came my way. I often forgot I had these escape mechanisms in my possession, but when remembering, I told myself to hold onto them because I might need them someday. Even though I had made great strides in my life in many areas, I couldn’t bring myself to part with them.
In the past when I would read about King Lamoni’s father’s conversion (see Alma 22), where he tells the Lord that he would be willing to give away all his sins to know Him, I would say to myself, “Well of course he would. Who wouldn’t?” I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be willing to give away all his sins, after all, wasn’t that our goal? Unfortunately, I now understand why someone might not want or be willing to give away all their sins. I became comfortable and quite enjoyed some of my sins. The items I carried in my computer bag were indulgences that, while spiritually lethal, brought some temporary escape and relief from my problems.
Several months went by when I realized that I still had the substance and the thumb drive. Finally, I had become sufficiently humble and sincere enough in my desire to follow the Savior that I deleted the porn and threw away the substance. I wondered why it took me so long. Why wasn’t I, like King Lamoni, willing to give away all my sins to know God? The answer is because I wasn’t spiritually fit. I wasn’t fully committed to the path of discipleship, nor truly converted to the gospel, and hadn’t acknowledged the full potential of the atonement of our Savior. It took me a long time, through prayer, gospel study, church and temple attendance, and service to reach a point that my spirit was stronger than my physical desires.
Thanks to the cleansing power of the Atonement, I don’t feel shame for waiting so long, or for telling you of my sins. I feel gratitude to my Savior and my Eternal Father for Their love and patience with me. Am I willing now to give away all my sins? Yes, I am. This doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with addictions or make foolish mistakes. It means that I want to be free of sin, that I trust I can be free of sin because of Christ’s sacrifice, and that I am willing to do my part by repenting and following Him.
Other sins we might struggle to give away might be more intangible such as holding grudges, not forgiving, judging others, lying, mistreating others, and a host of other things we engage in that keep the Spirit from being fully present in our lives.
I pray that as we continue to purge our lives of sin and seek to follow our Savior, the Spirit will make us aware of sins that we yet need to shed. I pray that we will always willingly lay them on the alter, and walk away toward a more fulfilling and happy life as true disciples of Jesus Christ. I pray that each of us will be willing, as was King Lamoni’s father, to give away all our sins to truly know our God.