Just a warning... this is going to be one of those introspective posts, because I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I will put in some cute pictures of my kids to add some excitement. :)
Forgiveness... I have unwittingly considered myself a forgiving person before. I am naturally forgetful about most things, so it fits in that I forgive easily, right? I also try to forgive when I feel offended or hurt...
...but (hate that word in this scenario!)... through many heartfelt discussions with my husband, I have realized that I am the type that forgives 98% and holds onto that 2% of hurt to protect myself against being hurt again. Two percent isn't such a big deal, except for when you start adding it all up... the English teacher in jr. high who made me cry regularly, my terrible wedding DJ (isn't it so funny that I actually still feel resentment for this?!? I mean really, how immature can I be?!?), "friends" who hurt me, rejections and failures I hold onto too tight (aka, not fully forgiving MYSELF).
Does anyone else feel this way? Like forgiveness really is a Divine gift -- so against our "protect myself and survive" nature?
The thing is, when I think of myself and all of the dumb things I've done and said... I sincerely hope people forgive me for those mistakes. I want people to know that despite my "bad" moments, I am not a bad person (I hope). I want people to give ME the benefit of the doubt and see me as a person... not label or define me by one poor decision.
As our Savior said:
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:38–44, emphasis added).Pretty powerful. And pretty clear. It gets down to trusting the Lord: If I trust the Lord's promises, I will give Him my heart. Part of that gift is giving up and letting go of the protective resentments I hold, with trust that the Lord's miracles will outweigh my own capacity to "protect" myself.
For even more motivation, in order for me to be forgiven fully, the Lord taught, I must first forgive fully:
“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:9–10, emphasis added).
President Gordon B. Hinckley said it best in his epic October 2005 Conference talk, "Forgiveness":
"I know this is a delicate and sensitive thing of which I am speaking. There are hardened criminals who may have to be locked up. There are unspeakable crimes, such as deliberate murder and rape, that justify harsh penalties. But there are some who could be saved from long, stultifying years in prison because of an unthoughtful, foolish act. Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way.
"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" (emphasis added).I pray that I can finally learn to forgive and let go of all the little things I harbor... and that we all can learn to have more love and trust and less resentment.
AND I ask any of you whom I might have offended to forgive me. I will sincerely try to do the same, forgiving completely and in a way that only comes through the Atonement of the Savior.
I know that Jesus is the Christ and that His way is the way of love and forgiveness. I know that as we follow Him-- even when we can't comprehend "why" or even "how"-- He will bless us.