Elder Renlund ended conference with a poignant call to embrace the healing power of repentance.
He mentioned several aspects of repentance that we do not often think about.
First of all, in addition to changing our behaviors, Repentance “also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin.” However, renouncing sin by itself is not sufficient without “the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior.”
Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His Atonement effective in our lives. When we “perceive afterwards” and “turn around” with the Savior’s help, we can feel hope in His promises and the joy of forgiveness. Without the Redeemer, the inherent hope and joy evaporate, and repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification. But by exercising faith in Him, we become converted to His ability and willingness to forgive sin.
Next, Elder Renlund focused on how repentance is a gift that “will never be imposed on us” even though it is “infinite in breadth and depth.” We must voluntarily make the choice to accept it. Yet, we are prone to rationalize our choices, blame others, or minimize our mistakes rather than accept the healing power of Christ’s atonement into our lives.
Instead of making excuses, let us choose repentance. Through repentance, we can come to ourselves, like the prodigal in the parable,16 and reflect on the eternal import of our actions. When we understand how our sins can affect our eternal happiness, we not only become truly penitent but we also strive to become better.
Finally, Elder Renlund emphasized something that I found extraordinary. He explained that “[r]epentance is not only possible but also joyful because of our Savior.” We do not often associate repentance with joy, but Elder Renlund understands that ultimately it is the only path to true joy and happiness.
I loved that his final invitation also focused on joy:
Brothers and sisters, as we conclude this conference, I invite you to feel more joy in your life: joy in the knowledge that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real; joy in the Savior’s ability, willingness, and desire to forgive; and joy in choosing to repent. Let us follow the instruction to “with joy … draw water out of the wells of salvation.”27 May we choose to repent, forsake our sins, and turn our hearts and wills around to follow our Savior. I testify of His living reality. I am a witness and repeated recipient of His incomparable compassion, mercy, and love. I pray that the redeeming blessings of His Atonement may be yours now—and again and again and again throughout your lives,28 as they have been in mine. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.