Forgiveness is not an easy commandment, but it isn’t one I’ve had to think about much in my life because I do my best not to burn bridges. I rarely hold a grudge. Friendship is very important to me, and so I will give the benefit of the doubt easily before making harsh judgments. Of course, I’m not perfect at this (who is perfect at this?), but I make a conscious effort to forgive.
However, my resolve has been tested severely by one person in my life; I can’t seem to forgive this person.
I have tried for years (and years) to let the anger and hurt go –but it’s proven to be harder than it looks.
Circumstances as they are (and cannot change in the present moment) force me to interact with this individual –and many times I have hoped that “finally! There has been change!” only to be hurt again and again. This hurt I feel then turns to anger, and I feel the cycle begin again.
In my journey to find forgiveness, I have come across scriptures such as these:
Doctrine and Covenants 64:10
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.
I have also read words from modern-day prophets and apostles:
Joseph Smith Jr.:
Bear and forbear one with another, for so the Lord does with us. Pray for your enemies in the Church and curse not your foes without; for vengeance in mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay [see Romans 12:19].
Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.
The great Atonement was the supreme act of forgiveness. The magnitude of that Atonement is beyond our ability to completely understand. I know only that it happened, and that it was for me and for you. The suffering was so great, the agony so intense, that none of us can comprehend it when the Savior offered Himself as a ransom for the sins of all mankind.
It is through Him that we gain forgiveness. It is through Him that there comes the certain promise that all mankind will be granted the blessings of salvation, with resurrection from the dead. It is through Him and His great overarching sacrifice that we are offered the opportunity through obedience of exaltation and eternal life.
May God help us to be a little kinder, showing forth greater forbearance, to be more forgiving, more willing to walk the second mile, to reach down and lift up those who may have sinned but have brought forth the fruits of repentance, to lay aside old grudges and nurture them no more…
And yet…I have not forgiven.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat in church, listening to a Relief Society lesson on forgiveness. The words of the prophets and of Christ filled my mind and heart, but it wasn’t until I heard the women around me confess their thoughts and their experiences with forgiveness that I truly began to sense why I needed to forgive, and forgive quickly.
Here are notes that I took from what was said:
Sister M: Love is free –but it is trust that has to be earned.
Sister J: You have to have compassion first in order to forgive…
Sister S: Some people would just rather be right than be happy.
Sister I (speaking about a prayer she had offered): …I asked Him to let the Savior take what I couldn’t forgive…
Sister C: My anger was replaced with immense sadness for this person, and then Bishop W. told me, “Sad is okay!”
I came away from that meeting realizing how hard it had been for many people to forgive those who had hurt them. I also came away realizing that many of them had found a way to let go and forgive, too. I cannot say that at this moment I have forgiveness in my heart for the person who has caused pain, but I can say I’m getting there. Compassion is slowly starting to replace my angry justification, my prayers have been more full of charity, and hopefully soon I can let the pain go completely. Then maybe, I will finally have peace.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be ye thankful.
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