Forgive

"We can all receive unspeakable peace and partnering 
with our Savior as we learn to freely forgive 
those who have trespassed against us."
-Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk-

Forgiveness. Such a common word but one that many of us don't utilize as often as we should... if ever. At least, not in terms of forgiving others. When Jesus Christ came to this earth, when He was crucified and died for all of our sins; those sins we have already committed and future sins we will commit, He completed part of our Heavenly Father's plan to allow us to repent and to be forgiven; to start anew.

But just as we can pray to our Heavenly Father for forgiveness, He gave unto us a commandment as well. 

D&C 64:10 states:

"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."

Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk shared a story in a talk given at the April 2018 General Conference, one that I believe we all should read and marvel at; because you'll be hard pressed to find a more difficult act of forgiveness.

"On a December night in 1982, my wife, Terry, and I were awakened by a phone call...As I answered the phone...my sister's struggling voice said: Tommy is dead. A 20-year-old drunk driver, speeding at more than 85 miles per hour, recklessly ran a stoplight in..Denver, Colorado. He crashed violently into the car driven by my youngest brother, Tommy, instantly killing him and his wife, Joan....Our hearts were broken, and anger toward the young offender began to well up inside me."

Elder Hawk goes on to share the following:

"...a court sentencing hearing was held for the young man found responsible for vehicular manslaughter. In their ongoing grief and sorrow, my parents and oldest sister, Katy, attended the hearing. The drunk driver's parents were also there, and after the hearing concluded, they sat on a bench and wept. My parents and sister were sitting nearby as they sought to gain control of their own emotions. After a moment, my parents and sister stood up and walked to the driver's parents and offered them words of comfort and forgiveness. The men shook hands; the women held hands; there was deep sorrow and tears for all and a recognition that both families had suffered immensely. Mom, dad, and Katy led the way with their quiet strength and courage and showed our family [and anyone who reads this story] what forgiveness looks like."

After time passed, Elder Hawk mentions how his heart softened and, with the help of the Prince of Peace, his burden of pain was lifted and opened a pathway to healing. Through forgiveness, he remembers the joy he had with his brother, instead of the pain of him being gone.

The Savior teaches us:

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

I am going to share a personal story now; one that many of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook might have seen back in November, that especially pertains to forgiveness.

In November of 2013, I received a phone call at 3am one night. In a sleepy daze, I looked at my phone and saw it was my brother, Jared, calling me. I answered, wondering why he would be calling at such a late hour. Much to my surprise, it wasn't my brother calling, but his wife, Ashley. She was sobbing into the phone and told me the news I never thought I would hear, that my brother had taken his own life. I laid there for a moment in silence, shocked, not wanting to believe this was real, but that it was a bad dream. It slowly sank in that I was not, in fact, dreaming, but that my brother had passed on from this life to the next.

I went and woke my parents, telling them what I had just been told. We all rushed over to my brothers home, hoping that somehow he was still alive; but knowing deep down that he was gone from this mortal life. Over the next few weeks, our family grieved alone and together. I remember watching my parents and seeing how heartbroken they were. No parent should ever have to experience losing a child. I remember feeling angry at my brother, wondering why he would do this. Why would he take his life, why would he be so selfish and put all of us through this pain. I let that anger fester for weeks, never once thinking about the pain he was in. I stopped going to church, I wasn't praying or reading scriptures, I was just... existing.

Time passed; and I found my way back to the gospel after a few months and realized that the anger did nobody any good. My brother didn't take his life in order to hurt us... he took his life because he was scared and in pain from a medical condition he had. He was in pain and, in his pain, he made a decision. When I came to this realization, my heart slowly softened and I forgave my brother. I began to remember the happy, joyous moments, just like Elder Hawk did with his brother. All the times we played games together, went to movies. The time he drove me 5 hours for a video game tournament and stood there watching me, rooting me on, more excited for me than I was for myself. The late nights of laughter and board games and the Sunday night dinners, when our family was all together.

I share this story with you, not for sympathy, but to further emphasize the importance of forgiveness. Anger and not being forgiving in life will lead to a life of unhappiness. I like to imagine anger like a snowball you would see in a cartoon, rolling down a hill. The farther or longer it rolls, it keeps growing, becoming larger and larger. Anger is very similar in this aspect; the longer you hold onto anger towards someone or towards something that happened in your life; the longer it festers and grows, making you more and more unhappy. But just as our Father forgives our trespasses, we should forgive those who trespass against us.

The Lord himself declared in D&C 64:9:

"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."

One last important note on the topic of forgiveness is that not only do we need to forgive those who trespass against us, but we also have to forgive ourselves. Many times when I pray to ask our Father for forgiveness, I dwell on what I repented for, feeling mad at myself even after I asked the Lord for forgiveness.
In D&C 58:42, the Lord says just that:

"Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more."

As we learn to have a forgiving spirit, our heart will not be troubled or afraid, but happy and joyful, full of the gospel and its promises; and we can remember this great promise given to us by the Savior, in John 14:27:


"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give
 I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."




Colossians 3:12 - Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.

Moroni 6:8 - But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.

D&C 82:1 - Verily, verily, I say unto you, my servants, that inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you.

Comments

  1. SUCH an amazing entry Matt - really I am on the verge of tears. Having lost 3 siblings in the last 6 years after all of us having lived a very difficult childhood, has been almost unbearable. I have harbored ALOT of feelings towards those who I blamed for what difficult paths my siblings chose, and the end result of the paths they walked down, so needless to say I really needed to read this. A thousand thank you's from someone who still struggles greatly to let go and forgive,


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    1. LisaMarie.. you're amazing. I'm so sorry for your losses, but know you'll see them again. Our mortal life is too short to harbor hard feelings. Before you know it, Jesus will be back and we will see our family members again!

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