Tuesday, February 12, 2008
3 Nephi 13:14-15
14 For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 13:14 - 15)
I take great comfort in this passage. Heaven knows I have a lot that needs to be forgiven. Life is a journey. My hope is that at the end of it, as I look back over the stream of time from where I began, I will see progress that I’ve made in my quest to become closer to my Savior.
I hope that I will be able to see others, as my Savior sees them, and that by so doing will be able to feel the love for them that He feels; and not just for people that treat me kindly, but for everyone.
Like most, I can look at my life and see my weaknesses and strengths. On occasion, I have tried to list the people that have been hurt because of my weaknesses. A few of them I have contacted and asked for their forgiveness. Some of them had no memory at all of things that I had been carrying around for years. All were grateful that I made the effort.
The most amazing part of this experience was every time, after I had reached out to another and asked for forgiveness, (which frequently meant I had to forgive them too) I felt the Savior’s love and calming reassurance that He was aware of who I was, and that His love and forgiveness were also available to me.
What do you have to lose, other than perhaps the burden of carrying around anger, resentment, guilt, etc. that you have carried unnecessarily for far too long? This is not a project to aimlessly run into. It will take some pondering, thought, and prayer to know how to do it correctly. As you make a list of others you have harmed, if you’re like me, you’ll see the exact same names of people that have harmed you. First, you might need to be able to forgive them for their trespasses against you. Take it to the Lord in humble and sincere prayer. The Lord teaches us to pray for our enemies. At first, I just thought that meant that I should pray, “Lord, help me to forgive so and so for what he/she did to me.” I have found my ability to forgive others is enhanced, when I pray for them as fervently as I pray for myself. Praying for your enemies means praying on their behalf for the same things that you’re praying for yourself. As you do so, you’ll be amazed at the miracle of forgiveness that will flow gently into your life.
After I was able to forgive others that offended me, it became easier for me to reach out to them and ask for their forgiveness.
A reasonable person might want to ask, Why would I want to do this? The answer is FREEDOM. Freedom from anger, resentment, jealousy, bitterness, guilt, shame, etc. After I figured out how to forgive others, and to ask their forgiveness, I was ready to forgive myself for some of the knuckleheaded things I’ve done. And most importantly, I was able to feel my Savior’s forgiveness and love.
This can be a difficult thing to do, but great risks bring great rewards. If anyone wants to share personal experiences about this that might help others, please do so in the comments section.