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Asking for a new heart
By derek
10/11/2006 12:14:56 PM
Psalms 51:10 — Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Ezekiel 36:26 — A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 18:31 — Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

I realized something about myself and my history this morning as I read the scriptures. In years past whenever I tried to repent, I would always feel sorrow and humility (at least enough to know I needed to change - rarely enough to know I couldn't change on my own). I hated what I was doing and wanted to change. But then after a couple weeks or a couple months even, I would run into this wall where I wasn't really feeling the spirit, wasn't really feeling anything. I knew those feelings of sorrow and humility were important in driving my progress, and I wanted to feel that way again. But here's where the screwiness comes in: I only knew one way to feel those feelings - by acting out. So I would deliberately give in to sin again because hopefully "this time" it would provide enough humility and sorrow to keep me going "next time". What a ridiculous cycle! I'm a reasonably intelligent human being but for some reason I never thought through my behavior to the obvious conclusion that I would NEVER be free following this cycle.

Now looking back there are a couple things I notice:

1. Humility and sorrow ARE necessary feelings in repentance. However, I only knew how to find those in a ME-centered approach rather than a CHRIST-centered approach.

ME-centered
Humility = I despise myself and who I am
Sorrow = I feel GUILT for what I've done.

CHRIST-centered
Humility = I feel humility because of what I've done to Christ and what He has done for me
Sorrow = I feel GODLY sorrow for violating commandments and covenants.

2. Satan is SO GOOD at counterfeiting good things with his own version. The desires I had to change were good. But I allowed him to take those good desires and provide a counterfeit solution. And isn't that what this addiction is all about anyway? Taking a good, wholesome, God-given power, and providing a cheap counterfeit version.

I realized all this when I was thinking about some things I had read in The Peacegiver and also some conversations I had with my wife about the asking for a new heart. And then this all came together! Could this have been the answer to all those times of messed-up thinking? What I needed for all those years every time I went back into my cycle was a new heart! The new heart we can be given enables us to feel TRUE humility and GODLY sorrow. I love Ezekiel's description of a "stony heart". That is exactly how I think my heart used to be nearly all the time. I COULD NOT FEEL. And the last couple weeks I've had a few days where I notice that I'm feeling "that way" again. Stony inside. And each morning I have felt that, I have got on my knees and just ASKED for a new heart, to have my spirit and heart renewed, to FEEL once more. And I testify that IT WORKS. The transformation I feel inside is tremendous. Sometimes it takes a little more pleading, sometimes it takes an hour or so to take effect as I read and study, but I have felt him change my heart each time I have asked. And I'm realizing more and more that this is something I need to do EVERY day. It's amazing how "stony" being out in the real world makes my heart by the end of the day. Truly I need a new heart every day.

How sad that the thought NEVER occurred to me in all those years, to just ASK to have that new heart and feel that way. I guess it just shows how ME-centered I really was. It's such a simple answer.


Comments:

So true    
"I really appreciate what you said here. I can relate to much of it, and reading it the way you put it helps me to understand much about myself. I've never thought about it in the specific terms you put it in (except maybe on a subconscious level), but I think it really hits the nail on the head. It truly is a terrible cycle, one that wears you down. I think that after awhile the renewed desire to do good after the guilt of acting out starts to fade because you are so deflated by past failures. Eventually you only have the guilt. And that starts to wear on you, so you then turn to apathy. As you said, you become past feeling. Only the atonement can save us from such a vicious cycle, to give us a new heart, to give us the ability to feel again. And truly it can- no matter where we are in the cycle, no matter how stony our heart has become."
posted at 18:55:19 on October 11, 2006 by josh
Thank you for your thoughts    
"Reading them has been helpful to me. I have struggled of late with similar feelings. I felt the spirit as I read your words today and was motivated to do better. Thank you!"
posted at 08:02:28 on October 14, 2006 by John Anon


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"Now brethren, the time has come for any one of us who is so involved to pull himself out of the mire, to stand above this evil thing, to “look to God and live” (Alma 37:47). We do not have to view salacious magazines. We do not have to read books laden with smut. We do not have to watch television that is beneath wholesome standards. We do not have to rent movies that depict that which is filthy. We do not have to sit at the computer and play with ographic material found on the Internet."

— Gordon B. Hinckley

General Conference, October 2004