Unwillingness to accept the responsibility for and consequences of one’s actions is an all too common condition in today’s world….[T]he sweet peace the gospel brings never comes at all when we justify our misconduct or blame others for our unhappiness. …

So to those, including myself, who from time to time have said, “I am not at fault—I was compelled by circumstances to do what I did,” I say, “That may be so, but there is grave danger here. If there is any doubt at all, let us simply repent.” For, in the words of Job, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.” (Job 9:20.)

– Elder F. Burton Howard, “Repentance

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~ by Katy

Driving home from a recent trip, I was at the wheel with my husband playing chess on the laptop and losing…badly. (Doesn’t it just kill a person’s self esteem when they keep getting beaten by not another person…but a machine? Poor man.) Anxious to get home and back to “the real world,” I was trying to pass the slower cars ahead of me. As I was trying to pass the last of many, I hurriedly started to get into the opposite lane when out of nowhere another car was trying to do the same exact thing as me and was just a millisecond ahead of me…thus causing me to quickly swerve back into my lane to let the car continue with it’s passing. Dave of course freaked out saying, “Didn’t you see him coming?! Didn’t you look before you tried to pass?!” I looked over at him with a sheepish grin, the nonverbal answer written all over my face.

The next town we came to, he insisted on taking the wheel. I gave him the keys without admitting I’d done anything wrong, but instead said, “I have to eat my Big Mac anyway.” Silly, prideful me.

We continued down the road and all was well. Now that I was in my own personal “time out” that is.

As I sat there reflecting…and reflecting…and reflecting…I finally conceded to my husband my wrongdoing. “I’m sorry I almost killed our family.” He said, “Yeah, I know.”

I was in such a hurry…a feeling of many I’m sure we’ve all used to justify or rationalize our short comings. But the word “Justify” is a funny word. What we’re doing is really, making excuses for our actions…or “dealing with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by concealing the true motivations for our own thoughts, actions, or feelings through the elaboration of reassuring or self serving but incorrect explanations” (from Wikipedia).

Whoa…that was deep.

I wonder how many times we’ve all “lept before looking” in life. Not necessarily with the same physical consequences that I could have brought upon my family, but other effects that may have been just as damaging.

-Gossiping about someone

-Saying something hurtful to someone

-Not following through with a commitment

-Inappropriately putting your own wants and needs before others’

Now I’m sure there are many many other blanketed examples I could list…but I’m sure you’ve gotten my point. And maybe you’re even pondering some of your own that you’ve experienced…either because you’ve been the one doing them or the one feeling the consequences of them due to someone else.

So how do we prevent such failings?

I know what I’m gonna try to do.

Look before leaping.

Or in my case, look before trying to pass.

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Every day is a new opportunity to remember our Savior and follow His example. Without repenting, we cannot progress. That is why repentance is the second principle of the gospel.

Instead of making excuses for a weakness, we work each day to develop good habits and Christlike qualities. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The cultivation of Christlike qualities is a demanding and relentless task—it is not for the seasonal worker or for those who will not stretch themselves, again and again.” …

Because we are all mortal, we all make mistakes. Repentance is not optional, but we don’t do it alone. We have a Savior to help us repent. By developing His qualities in our lives, we know we are making changes that help us come closer to Him.

– Sister Julie B. Beck, “Remembering, Repenting, and Changing