70 times 7

This talk is about so many things, but Elder Robbins starts the talk by saying, “Mistakes are a fact of life.” Anybody here never make a mistake? I don’t think I see any hands, Ok, good. Is there anyone here that is perfect? Again, no hands raised. 😊

A couple of examples that he talked about was first, learning to play the piano. I know we have quite a few people here that play the piano, so you think about when you learned to play the piano, how many mistakes did you make? Thousands, maybe even millions. Because it’s impossible to learn without making mistakes.

Another example he talked about was learning a foreign language. When you learn a foreign language, you think of the embarrassment of making mistakes as you try. Or, even the world’s greatest athletes and all the mistakes that they make because even as professional athletes perform, they still make mistakes.

With the invention of the light bulb, and I really like this example, “Thomas Edison purportedly said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”” I thought that was perfect. It wasn’t that he made that many mistakes, it’s just that that’s how many steps there were for that invention.

He said, ““Success,” it has been said, “isn’t the absence of failure, but going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.””

I don’t know about you, but for me that’s not that easy. When we “fail” it’s not always easy to maintain enthusiasm. Sometimes it’s harder than others, depending on what the “failure” is. Maybe we don’t always think of them as failures, but making mistakes isn’t always easy especially when we feel that other people have seen it. Sometimes we think that matters, but it shouldn’t.

Elder Robbins talked about a couple of examples from the scriptures. He talked about Nephi and how he failed multiple times in trying to get the plates of brass. He talked about how Moses attempted 10 times before he was finally successful in fleeing Egypt with the Israelites. These men had unwavering faith to go from failure to failure.

“We may wonder—if both Nephi and Moses were on the Lord’s errand, why didn’t the Lord intervene and help them achieve success on their first try?”

Why was it important for them to fail?

  • Maybe to learn to rely on the Lord and ask for help. You notice with Nephi, the first time they didn’t ask the Lord at all and they went and attempted and got nothing. Then the brothers thought they could do it, but got nothing. Then they turned to the Lord and were successful.
  • Another thing about these stories that we hear in the scriptures, we can learn from them, from Nephi and his brothers. They are examples to us, over and over again. If they can have troubles, so can we.
  • It helps you to have empathy for other people.
  • They learned from the whole experience.

As Elder Robbins said, there are four reasons why the Lord gives us experiences:

  • “First, the Lord knows that “these things shall give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good.”


  • Second, to allow us to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good.”


  • Third, to prove that “the battle is the Lord’s,” and it is only by His grace that we can accomplish His work and become like Him.


  • Fourth, to help us develop and hone scores of Christlike attributes that cannot be refined except through opposition and “in the furnace of affliction.”


“So, amid a life full of stumbling blocks and imperfection, we all are grateful for second chances.” Anybody here not grateful that the Lord gives us second chances?

  • And third and fourths…

That’s exactly correct. This talk is more about that. No one is more on our side than the Savior. He has given us the opportunity to have second chances, and third, and fourths, because He doesn’t count. And that’s a good thing because that would be a long list for every one of us.

“To become like Him will require countless second chances in our day-to-day struggles with the natural man, such as controlling appetites, learning patience and forgiveness, overcoming slothfulness, and avoiding sins of omission, just to name a few. If to err is human nature, how many failures will it take us until our nature is no longer human but divine? Thousands? More likely a million.”

“Repentance is God’s ever-accessible gift that allows and enables us to go from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm. Repentance isn’t His backup plan in the event we might fail. Repentance is His plan, knowing that we will. This is the gospel of repentance, and as President Russell M. Nelson has observed, it will be “a lifetime curriculum.””

Every day, this is something that we need. In this talk he also talked about Peter. Peter talked about forgiving and even asked the Savior. Who did I give the scripture to?

  • I think this is interesting coming from Peter because he was His right-hand man. I wish I knew the story behind why he even had to ask. Because he probably thought, ‘I’ve forgiven this guy a lot of times.’ Matthew 18:21-22, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
  • I was just reading above that [in the talk] and I liked what he said, that Peter thought that 7 was a high number and the Savior in response told Peter not to even count. To not even establish a limit to forgiveness.

As humans, I think for us, or for me, I think when someone has wronged us, that seems like a lot to forgive somebody. To me if you think someone has done you wrong, but you turn it around, and if we want to be forgiven for something we’ve done, we’re not going to keep track [of how many times we ask for forgiveness].

  • I know that personally speaking, mistakes that I make I tend to make a lot. The things that I struggle with, it’s not something that I go, ‘I’m going to correct my path and never do that again.’ I try, but I have to because I make it over and over. But maybe the next time I make [the mistake] less severe, or maybe there’s a little bit more time in between the last time I made that mistake. How nice to know that the Lord saying, ‘I know, repentance is the plan. I expect you to learn from that mistake and move forward.’ And sometimes it takes making that same mistake a lot before we can really be finally done with it.

When I thought about this and I thought about some things that some have done to hurt me and if I’ve forgiven someone for something they did to wrong me. It’s hard. Sometimes it can be really hard. But we can’t be forgiven if we don’t forgive others.

  • We were having a discussion along this line yesterday and we were saying, is it possible to forgive, but still protect yourself. You just want to say, ‘yes, walk all over me again.’ Is that part of forgiving? Can you truly forgive and say, ‘but I need to protect myself.’ Is that really forgiving? I’m asking.
  • I have contemplated that same thing because sometimes you have to set boundaries. You have to protect yourself. I remember going through a time where I realized that in order to forgive, to truly forgive and to allow your heart to be protected at the same time, I believe it requires faith that the Lord will protect you. That’s what is going to protect your heart. That can then allow your heart to be soft and malleable and it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt every single time somebody hurts you, but I would rather have that hurt and have the Lord protect me in His own time and in His own way, than create a callous of unforgiveness and justification of my hurt, to harden my heart. That’s what creates a hard heart and then the Lord can’t help us and we’re not offering a broken heart or a contrite spirit. That’s something that I’ve thought a lot about. How do you keep and protect yourself? I think that we trust in the Lord. (And that can sometimes take a long time.) Yes, it can. And I have had a lot of hard heart moments and I can tell you that I haven’t trusted the Lord in certain scenarios, because I didn’t feel ready to trust and I was holding on to it because my heart was too hard.
  • When Elder Bednar was here and spoke, he kind of touched on this when the sister in the Relief Society, she was actually asking about people who abuse the welfare system, and he said there is a difference between forgiveness and justice. An experience with one of my extended family members that’s been in trouble with the law over and over and over again. Our other family members kept bailing her out and bailing her out and it was their stake president who said, ‘she needs to be held accountable for her choices. You bailing her out is not forgiving her and loving her. You’re enabling her to continue the path that she is on.’ So, we really have to be careful that we love and forgive how we feel, but we’re not enabling them to continue on those same paths. (And that’s a hard thing to go through.) It is.

I went through things in my divorce. It was a very hard time to get to the point where I could forgive and move on and not hate and not have that bitterness that affected my children and for them to be able to have the relationship they deserved and not have my feelings affect that relationship. It took a long time. Lots of years. It’s a hard place to get to because it couldn’t affect my life forever and it couldn’t affect theirs. Hard to get there.

  • Sometimes I think the Lord does protect us by speaking to us to remove ourselves from the situation. When you’re talking about abuse and things like it, it’s not just your heart that needs protecting, it may be your family, or your physical being, or it may be your financial welfare and your independence. If you are able to forgive and then truly seek the Lord’s guidance in what to do, His protection may be removing yourself from that person. And that’s different than always thinking, ‘oh that person’s going to hurt me’ instead it’s saying, ‘you know what, I know this is what I’m supposed to do’ and just step back. If you’re turning into the Lord’s hands, He’s going to guide you to the right path.
  • And it’s easier to do that once you’re able to let the Lord be in control. You’ll be able to see there needs to be a boundary and this is where I’m setting it because the Lord loves you both.

I thought of a scripture that goes along with this that I learned about 100 years ago in seminary, ok not quite 100 years, maybe 50. D&C 64:10

“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”

That’s another one that reminds us that we can’t pick and choose. We have to forgive everybody. We can’t say, ‘oh I’ll forgive them of that, but I’m not going to forgive you.’ It’s important that we remember that.

  • I think it’s important for myself to remember that it’s not my job to decide who’s forgiven and who’s not. I’m grateful that that’s not my job to sit in judgment and decide when to forgive. I’m grateful that the Lord has the love He has for me and will forgive me and I guess I look at other people and I try not to look at them with judgment because that’s not my place. That’s not, gratefully, that’s not my job. (Yeah, we’re not in their shoes, we don’t know.)
  • I think sometimes as members, we are so excited when a convert comes into the church and are baptized and they receive that blessing of forgiveness. But we’re not always so forgiving of members who have been members all their lives and have gone astray and have come back. We should be just as happy for them. No matter what they’ve done, if they’re coming back it’s our job to welcome them with open arms.
  • And following along that train, we may forgive others, but how often do we forgive ourselves? To just say, ‘ok it’s done, we’re going to move on and try to do better.’ Then we might make a mistake again. The person telling you that you’re not good enough is not the Lord.

Presumably, as was said before, Peter thought 7 was a sufficient number, but as we all have been talking about, that’s obviously not the case. There is no number. I like the comment that Elder Robbins said in here, “Obviously, the Savior was not establishing an upper limit of 490. That would be analogous to saying that partaking of the sacrament has a limit of 490, and then on the 491st time, a heavenly auditor intercedes and says, “I’m so sorry, but your repentance card just expired—from this point forward, you’re on your own.”” I really liked that and the humor in that, to lighten it up a little.

“The Lord used the math of seventy times seven as a metaphor of His infinite Atonement, His boundless love, and His limitless grace. “Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.””

Obviously, we have to go through the process, we have to be truly repentant and ask for forgiveness and really want those things.

The Savior is perfect, but none of us and He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Elder Robbins gave an example, “In 1970, as a new freshman at BYU, I enrolled in a beginning course on the essentials of physics taught by Jae Ballif, an outstanding professor. After finishing each unit of the course, he would administer an exam. If a student received a C and wanted a better grade, Professor Ballif would allow the student to take a modified exam covering the same material. If the student received a B on the second attempt and was still unsatisfied, he or she could take the test a third time and a fourth, and so on. By allowing me numerous second chances, he helped me excel and finally earn an A in his class. He was an uncommonly wise professor who inspired his students to keep trying—to consider failure as a tutor, not as a tragedy, and to not fear failure but to learn from it.”

What an amazing concept!

“Recently I telephoned this great man 47 years after taking his physics course. I asked him why he was willing to allow students unlimited attempts to improve their grade. His response: “I wanted to be on the same side as the students.”

“While we are grateful for second chances following mistakes, or failures of the mind, we stand all amazed at the Savior’s grace in giving us second chances in overcoming sin, or failures of the heart.”

It just makes you think. Have any of you had a teacher like that in school?

  • I took a chemistry class in college and you could take it up to 5 or 6 times and it drove me nuts. You still have to keep on going and then retake it. You might get worse or you may get the same [grade]. Just take it once. But it was helpful.

The fact that you would keep learning and to give you that option. Life is full of second chances obviously because of the Savior. The fact that we get to have that opportunity- every day we need second chances. The biggest thing to remember is that we give others second chances.

Does anyone have any experience they would like to share when they’ve either given someone a second chance or they’ve been given a second chance?

  • What happens in Relief Society stays in Relief Society! 😊 One of my kids, he’s an awesome kid, the best kid ever and he’s been given a challenge in life he didn’t choose, but he has a reading disability so school is hard for him. He was doing driver’s ed and it didn’t even occur to me to talk to his teacher beforehand. He went in and took the exam and failed. He was devastated. The teacher, I don’t know anything about him personally, but best teacher ever, because I called him and I said, ‘here’s the deal, he failed, what do we do?’ He said, ‘I wondered with the way he took the test, I saw that he looked defeated.’ And he gave him the opportunity to take it again and again and said, ‘I’ll do whatever I can do to help him pass this test.’ I looked at it like this teacher was being an advocate for my kid the way the Savior is an advocate for us. We have unlimited chance. We might not choose the challenges we have, but we all have them. Instead of saying, ‘well, you tried, your got one try and you’re done’ we’re given the opportunity to do it again and to maybe do it differently. That was a really tough thing for him. He had to take that test 5 times before he passed. As a mom, I prayed and my husband kept saying all of those things [the four reasons why the Lord gives us experiences]. My husband is so sensible and when he said those things it made sense, but my “mom’s heart” was breaking and wanting him to succeed, but when he passed that test, it was the sweetest moment for him and for me. I saw that he prevailed, he got through it. I’m so grateful that the Savior is our advocate so we don’t have to go through these things alone.
  • Mine’s kind of a silly story. Back many years ago there was a cute guy in the single’s ward and I thought he was pretty cool and then I found out that he dated someone that really, really, I thought went out of her way to make my life difficult. I found out that my currently sweet and wonderful husband had dated her. And I was like, ‘nope, I don’t want anything to do with that.’ They broke up and quit dating and I still thought he was pretty cute, but he had dated her. I was telling somebody, ‘I don’t know, I really liked him, but that’s who he was dating.’ She turned me and said, ‘Oh we went out a couple of times and he is amazing.’ I thought to myself, ‘he picked this one who grated on my nerves and he also picked who I thought was the coolest person ever. So, I decided to give it a chance. It is such an example of what would I have missed out if I had taken that preconceived notion? Maybe it wasn’t even a mistake that he dated her first. But if I hadn’t listened to the quiet Spirit whispering, ‘it’s ok, it’s ok, I’ve got a plan.’ And I do – I have my amazing, wonderful husband who I couldn’t have picked a better person if I had had a choice of everybody in the world. I think the point is I thought I was making a decision based on information that I thought was accurate and if I had stopped at that point, I would’ve missed out on so much. And it would’ve been to my detriment.

I’m very grateful for second chances. I’ve had many in my life. I’m grateful for a kind, loving Heavenly Father who has been patient and loving with me in so many ways. I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t get a second chance. I have a wonderful, loving husband who was a big second chance for me. We’re both here because we got a second chance because we both made some mistakes the first time. We’re both grateful for that.

I’ll close by bearing my testimony that I know this church is true, I know that God lives and that Jesus is my Savior and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Challenge for this week:

  • Journal about an experience you have had with second chances and detail how that impacted your life.
  • Have a Family Home Evening lesson about the “four reasons why the Lord gives us experiences” that Elder Robbins mentioned.

NEXT WEEK: Council Meeting Topic, “How can we protect ourselves and our families from inappropriate media and pornography?”

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