Thursday, July 02, 2009

Forgiveness is a Gift.

About three weeks ago now, I spoke in Church in Sacrament Meeting. Given the topic of forgiveness, I, of course, read up in the Scriptures and recent General Conference talks, but also checked out a DVD from Netflix called The Power of Forgiveness.

After reading and studying the topic, I came to the conclusion that forgiveness is gift, a powerful healing cycle involving OFFERING forgiveness, SEEKING forgiveness, and RECEIVING it. We can more easily offer forgiveness when we have felt the love and compassion accompanying the forgiveness of our trespasses, which we've sought.

Offering forgiveness is difficult for many of us. Sometimes, it can seem absolutely impossible. It can also seem "wrong" to forgive someone who has done something so heinous. The concept that all people have human worth, individual worth, that they come from divine heritage, can help us to separate the offense from the person. Forgiveness does not condone one's behavior, but alleviates the stress and heartache from your shoulders. Being angry with someone only, ultimately hurts you. In fact, The Power of Forgiveness presented recent clinical research showing a link between forgiveness and lower blood pressure and other health benefits. Forgiveness brings with it powerful healing physically, mentally, and spiritually.

“This is not to say forgiveness is easy. When someone has hurt us or those we care about, that pain can almost be overwhelming. It can feel as if the pain or the injustice is the most important thing in the world and that we have no choice but to seek vengeance. But Christ, the Prince of Peace, teaches us a better way. It can be very difficult to forgive someone the harm they've done us, but when we do, we open ourselves up to a better future. No longer does someone else's wrongdoing control our course. When we forgive others, it frees us to choose how we will live our own lives. Forgiveness means that problems of the past no longer dictate our destinies, and we can focus on the future with God's love in our hearts.” (Elder David E. Sorenson, April 2003 LDS General Conference)

I fully believe that forgiveness is a divine attribute and is attainable through faith in Jesus Christ and God, our Father in Heaven. Forgiveness is not something you do once and then you're done. You must do it every day. It is not something that is manufactured, but we can create the conditions under which it can come, through our faith, through the Atonement of Christ, through a continued relationship with our Father in Heaven, and being blessed with the pure love of Christ. Such faith in Christ and our Father in Heaven will help us to sustain the worst of humanity, look beyond ourselves, forgive and be healed.

While visiting the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, I came across this letter posted in one of their display cases, and was deeply moved:

Filling our minds and hearts with charity, compassion, and the love of God will aid us beyond measure. As renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said, "Compassion is the antidote of anger." And I think the world could use a little less anger. Forgiveness heals. and allows us to focus on all that is good in the world.

Photos of church and letter a la moi (March 2009).


Giles Family said...

I love reading your blog... its so inspirational! How amazing is that letter. You are a sweatheart! Can't wait to see you soon.

Marina said...

"forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past"