…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Reclothe Us in Our Rightful Mind

Forgiving Myself and Restoring Sanity

By Eric Chaffey


Something that I’ve known for quite some time but just came to the fore this last week is that I sometimes have a tendency to take beating myself up to an art form.

In the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, among other weird and quirky things is a group of animated monks that will walk across the screen chanting in Latin. At the end of each phrase they whack themselves in the head with a garbage can lid. That was the image that came to my mind as I reflected on the last few weeks.

Some things I’ve seen and read have recalled some traumatic memories. I felt really badly after expressing frustration when my bank was giving me a hard time, and I’ve been exceptionally anxious when driving after getting a ticket for going through a red light. Sacramento has in some intersections cameras that activate when you go through a red light and they mail you a ticket. It’s more than a little unnerving that the camera zooms in close enough so that one can see that it’s very clearly me driving. Needless to say I’ve been beating up on myself quite a bit lately.

Then I recalled something very important. In the “Lord’s Prayer” there is a phrase about forgiving trespasses. Sometimes the one I need to forgive of trespasses is myself. And in the Ten Commandments there is the one about Love thy neighbor as thyself. Part of the commandment is to love oneself which is a little hard to do when stuck in a self flagellation mode. Fortunately, I was able to take a few steps back and slow down and get a better grip on a few realities.

One of the realities is that because of the atonement of Christ, I don’t need to nor should I beat myself up over sins that I repented of long ago. Another important reality was that a lot of years and miles have passed since a particularly epic failure, and however awful it was it’s no longer relevant. In the scriptures, the Savior says “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you and learn of me. For my yolk is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–29) I turned it over to Christ once. I don’t need to take it back and relive it.

A visualization that a therapist gave me one time was to put all of that stuff in a big drum and seal it and put in a valve on the side that one only opens when it serves a therapeutic purpose. When it’s done, it goes back in. Recalling that was also helpful. Maybe blasting the thing into outer space occasionally would be a good idea. I think also for me what’s needed periodically is quiet. Not merely physical quiet, but a quiet mind and heart. Sometimes it’s hard to find that living in a big city. The temple is one place that happens.

A hymn that comes to mind in thinking about this is a text written by John Greenleaf Whittier called Dear Lord an Father of Mankind. It’s one that I learned from my mother. She first learned it for a school assembly when the end of World War II was announced and for her it had a profound impact. Many years later, it did on me too.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

 In simple trust, like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.
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One Response to “Reclothe Us in Our Rightful Mind”

  1. Rex Goode said:

    Eric, I love the analogy of the drum. Some people get stuck swimming in that old stuff. It’s a good idea to only bring it out when it serves a therapeutic purpose. I love that.

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