Learning From the Sin I Commit

I attended my mom's ward this past Sunday, in my hometown. I have so many wonderful memories in this town and in this ward. It's that type of town where you visit twenty years later and all the same people are still there, just with a few additional gray hairs.

It's a feel good town and I am wholly in love with it.


During the Sunday School lesson, a statement was made by the instructor which caused a great deal of defensiveness to bubble up within me. I refrained from verbally responding to her comment because I wasn't exactly sure what the source of my defensiveness was, and I wanted to chew on it for a while and process what was said before drawing any conclusions.

Unfortunately, I don't remember what the actual lesson was on. My four year oldwho refused to go to primarydrew most of my attention, so I simply did my best to pick up bits and pieces here and there.

But the comment that was made struck me like no other throughout the entire lesson. I don't remember her exact words, so I am paraphrasing; and I acknowledge that my paraphrasing may be muddied with an imperfect perspective.

She remarked:
"Members of the church sometimes say that they are grateful for their trials in which they have sinned, because they could not have learned the principles they learned from them any other way. But they are wrong of course, because we can learn those same principles without sinning."
Maybe I was defensive to the tone in her voice that I perceived.
Maybe I didn't perceive it.

Regardless of perception, I have concluded a number things after pondering on what was said...

There is never a time that it is NOT okay to be grateful for our trials.
For them, and in them.
President Uchtdorf has confirmed as much.

We have been placed here to learn.
We have opportunity to learn from making mistakes.
The mistakes we make are often sin.
We learn from the sin.
We get better.
God's simple plan.

I suppose it is possible that I could have learned the principles and truths that I have learned from sin some other way, but I feel that I would not have learned them at the depth in which I did. I know that I would not appreciate the Atonement, and the light of my loving Savior as I do if I did not feel the personal touch of His outreached hand as He pulled me from the pit of everlasting despair I was bound in.

I feel as Alma the Younger did as he exclaimed;
"Oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding was my pain!"
Although I may have been able to learn what I have learned another way, I am grateful that I learned it the way that I did. I wouldn't give my experiences back. Too many ripples have been created in the course of my spiritual journey to wish otherwise.

I am both grateful for what I have learned and the way that I have learned it.

So no, I do not seek to commit sin just so that I can learn from it.
But I do seek to learn from the sin I do commit.


  1. I had a companion on my mission who said he was grateful that he went through some rebellious years where he drank a lot because it helped him understand some things better. That comment bothered me a lot, although I haven't really thought about it lately. But your take on it is completely true. Yes, there are things he missed on spiritually because of those sins, but the point isn't that he'd do it again, but that he's grateful for the experience he had with the Atonement.

  2. I agree. Although I would rather learn the same lessons by making better choices, I have learned so much through mistakes. And, as you said, that's why we are here. How can I learn without opposition? Making mistakes is part of life. Part of being mortal. Part of the plan. That's why we have the Atonement. Heavenly Father knew we would make mistakes and He wants us to learn from them. I can't take back the past. I can't change my mistakes. I know I'm going to continue to make mistakes, and bad choices, as well as good. It's part of the plan. Not an excuse, it just is. I have learned beautiful lessons from my past and continue to do so. Can I learn these same lessons another way? I really don't know, and it's moot to think about because I am where I am. Point well made here.

  3. I am grateful for my trials but I am not grateful to myself for sinning. Never once have I thought, "hey, Stephanie, thanks for looking at porn that one day. It made me a better person." "Thanks for saying that horribly unkind thing to that coworker. It helped me learn." No. I would have learned purity by being pure. I would have learned kindness by being kind. Regret is a good teacher, and experience is a better one, but there are more ways and better ways to learn that the burner is hot than by touching it.

    Circumstances that are horrible that happen to me- I am always grateful for those. Circumstantial trials, or trials that are caused by others, always teach me much if I am humble and rely on God.

    But why would I be grateful for my sins? Why should I be?

    I don't know. I think I agree with the giver of the lesson here, but only if she specified it to sins. And mistakes and sins can be different.

    The very very best thing to do after a sin is to rely on the Savior and learn from the sin. Yes, our sins can well be launch pads to light. But we can stay in the light, too, and be far better for it. I think of all the spiritual progression I missed out on while I was consistently engrossed in addictive sexual behaviors, and it's so sad because it's SO MUCH. If I'd been choosing the right instead, I'd be in a much better place than I am now. I am not grateful for those moments of selfish indulgence. I am not grateful for making myself an addict, I'm not grateful that I slip and sin in ways that KEEP me out of the temple. Staying temple worthy would be better for me and my family.

    I AM, however, monumentally grateful for the Atonement. I am monumentally grateful for the lessons I have finally humbled myself sufficiently to learn. I am monumentally grateful for the ceaseless grace and mercy of my Savior. I am grateful for how much I have come to know Him over the course of recovery. I didn't seek him because of my sins. I sought Him because I wanted to be free. I would need that freedom regardless of my addiction. I would need a Savior even if I hadn't committed countless sexual sins. I didn't need the sins to know Him.

    Well.... that's my opinion. I guess I really don't know. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I did need to be an addict to be humble and to call upon God. Gosh, I hope not.

    Anyway. This is an interesting topic for me. I feel like it's a deep one. I feel like I don't grasp it fully. I feel like maybe I"m supposed to be grateful I sinned and sin.... but.... I'm just not. I'm definitely grateful for the opportunity to sin, and for the opportunity to repent.

  4. I think she meant that people use that excuse to sin. Well, if I sin then I'll learn more about the Atonement through repentance. Joseph Smith didn't seek sin, but I know he learned a lot about the Atonement through his own experiences. Maybe that was what she was trying to say, that we shouldn't use Repentance and the Atonement as excuses to sin, so that we can come to know the Savior better. We should come to know the Savior better because we want to know Him.

    1. Yes, and I think I was also trying to say why even bother saying we could have learned our lessons another way... can't we just rest in gratitude for learning it the way we did? And grateful that we learned it at all, and don't have to relive it all.


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