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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 

Please Forgive Me

One of the most interesting experiences of my life was sitting down with a bishop I had while in a BYU ward and basically telling him the sad story of my life. I talked about things that had happened to me, and how painful they continued to be, but how I felt it was my responsibility to forgive those who had trespassed against me. My bishop scrunched up his face a little and said, "Sarah, you don't have to forgive them in situations such as this." I thought for a moment. A long, long moment. And then I looked my bishop in the eye and said, "I may not HAVE to, but I know that if I don't, it will eat me alive." I was 19 years old, confused about my life and where I belonged in the world, but that one thing was perfectly clear. Forgiving for the things that happened to me had almost nothing to do with the persons who had transgressed against me, but it had everything to do with me letting go of that pain.

I won't say that the process was easy, it was surely not. Even now, almost a decade later, I have moments where the pain flares and the anger returns because of things that happened ages ago. But, for the most part, I feel I have forgiven - not only those who trespassed, but I have forgiven myself and that is something that is often much harder than forgiving others. There have been countless times that I have freely forgiven someone else but harbored the most hateful feelings toward myself for something so completely minor I hardly merits being thought about, let alone feeling as terrible as I've been known to make myself feel about things. Over the years I have learned this is not Heavenly Fathers way, but very much a tool of the Satan.

Do I believe anyone is beyond forgiveness? No, not really. I have seen forgiveness work miracles in people. I have seen the letting go of a grudge lighten someone's life exponentially. There is no use in carrying that hurt around. In the words of every recovering addict I've ever met, it is just better to Let Go and Let God. It is better to forgive. If you don't, the pain and hurt will do nothing less than eat you alive.

I think you must be a strong person. I try to be forgiving, but then Bon Losee screws up my leg waxing appointment and I spend half of the afternooon imagining phone calls with the manager...

Great post. I'm really sorry to hear you've been hurt, and at such a young age.

But I can't believe your bishop would tell you that! If our purpose here is to learn to become more like God, then learning how to forgive is paramount. Nobody loves and forgives as absolutely as God does.

Once my father-in-law, a former bishop, told his adult kids that he wouldn't be able to forgive his wife if she ever cheated on him. It was all hyperbole, I'm sure, but all of his kids said, Oh yeah, that would be unforgiveable. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

As hard and as incredibly painful as it is, how to forgive is one of the most important things we can learn, IMO.

On a side note, I have to say I really enjoyed President Hinckley's talk in GC on forgiveness. It was really a talk about repentence. But rather than heap guilt on people, he spoke about how great it can be to give and receive forgiveness.

Does Heavenly Father forgive those who do NOT repent? Yes I know Jesus sufferred for all, but apparently there are some for whom the Father doesn't forgive ("I will forgive whom I forgive").

Is the commandment for us to forgive based at all on whether the offender SEEKS forgiveness? I believe our mental well being is 'better' if we forgive no matter what.

That is a beautiful post.

Amen - I could have written this post word for word.

Thank you all so much for your kind words. :)

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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