Tag: forgiveness

Forgive and Forget

With the story of the Prodigal Son Jesus teaches us about forgiving others
With the story of the Prodigal Son Jesus teaches us about forgiving others

So yesterday I got a little stomach bug so I decided to stay home today and rest.  My stomach is still feeling pretty tender but I’ve had some improvement. Since I missed church I gave myself a mini-sermon.

Jesus famously told his disciples “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (Matt 6:14).  On first glance it can seem like we have it harder than the Lord.  We have to forgive everyone.

President Kimball said “Since forgiveness is an absolute requirement in attaining eternal life, man naturally ponders: How can I best secure that forgiveness? One of many basic factors stands out as indispensable immediately: One must forgive to be forgiven”

One must forgive to be forgiven…Powerful words.  But it can feel so hard.

President Kimball admits it is hard “Hard to do? Of course. The Lord never promised an easy road, nor a simple gospel, nor low standards, nor a low norm. The price is high, but the goods attained are worth all they cost. The Lord himself turned the other cheek; he suffered himself to be buffeted and beaten without remonstrance; he suffered every indignity and yet spoke no word of condemnation. And his question to all of us is: “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?” And his answer to us is: “Even as I am.”

So if our goal is to be like Christ and make it back to our Heavenly Father than we must forgive.

But what about forgiving and forgetting? I have long puzzled with the concept of forgetting and I’ve sat through a lot of Relief Society meetings where the topic was hotly debated.  Some swear forgetting is possible and required for exaltation.  Others say that forgiving and moving on is all we can do.

I’m inclined to agree with the latter.  I’ve always felt it was impossible to truly forget one’s life experiences.  In fact, the act of trying to forget can bring it all the more to our remembrance.  Its like when someone says ‘don’t think of a purple elephant’.  What do you think of?  A purple elephant of course.

Well I was reading an interesting web md article about the physical effects of forgiveness on the human body.  They address this idea of forgetting in a way I could relate to:

“Despite the familiar cliche, ‘forgive and forget,’ most of us find forgetting nearly impossible,” says Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, PhD…”Forgiveness does not involve a literal forgetting. Forgiveness involves remembering graciously. The forgiver remembers the true though painful parts, but without the embellishment of angry adjectives and adverbs that stir up contempt.”

Isn’t that a beautiful thought?  Forgiveness involves remembering graciously and without the angry adjectives of contempt.  That seems doable to me.  You remember the event but let go of the anger and hurt.

Dr Witvliet goes on

“That type of angry “embellishment,” as Witvliet calls it, seems to carry serious consequences. In a 2001 study, she monitored the physiological responses of 71 college students as they either dwelled on injustices done to them, or imagined themselves forgiving the offenders.

“When focused on unforgiving responses, their blood pressure surged, their heart rates increased, brow muscles tensed, and negative feelings escalated,” she says. “By contrast, forgiving responses induced calmer feelings and physical responses. It appears that harboring unforgiveness comes at an emotional and a physiological cost. Cultivating forgiveness may cut these costs.”

Isn’t it interesting how connected the human body is to mental anguish?  Like the ad says ‘depression hurts’.  It can be painful to be angry, frustrated, anxious etc.

So how do we ‘remember graciously’? President Kimball says, “It must be a purging of feelings and thoughts and bitternesses. Mere words avail nothing.”  That seems like a good place to start- when the angry thoughts come send them away.  The more you do it the less they will taunt you.

President Kimball also tell us that when we fail to forgive we are assuming God’s role as judge and jury on the other person.  “To be in the right we must forgive, and we must do so without regard to whether or not our antagonist repents, or how sincere is his transformation, or whether or not he asks our forgiveness. We must follow the example and the teaching of the Master, who said: “… Ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.” (D&C 64:11.) But men often are unwilling to leave it to the Lord, fearing perhaps that the Lord might be too merciful, less severe than is proper in the case”

I like that last line.  I have felt that way from time-to-time.  That Heavenly Father would be too nice to the person who hurt me.  You want revenge and for the other person to feel the same degree of pain you experienced.  But the truth is that bitterness and anger only hurt the person holding the thoughts, not the perpetrator of the offense. That is why God commands us to forgive ALL men and women.  He wants us to be happy.

It seems to me we all expect to be easily forgiven by others but than struggle to extend them the same courtesy. And perhaps the notion of ‘forgetting’ makes forgiveness seem too daunting a task.  I know I’ve felt that way on occasion.  In some cases truly forgetting the behavior would be the opposite of what the Lord wants us to do.  For instance, a woman being abused should not hold bitterness and anger towards her abuser but she should also seek to remove herself from the situation.  Forgetting and going back to the abuser would not be a wise thing to do.

Plus, some hurts we have in life are not sealed events.  Some have potential for continual hurt.  I’ve felt that at times.  I think I’ve forgiven and then a fresh wound would occur.  Trying to forget seems to overwhelming to do on a day-after-day basis.  ‘Remembering graciously’ doesn’t seem so bad.

So don’t worry about forgetting.  Leave that on the Lord’s shoulders.  If we can do it the atonement will work with us and make us better, more sanctified people.

President Kimball again:

“In the midst of discordant sounds of hate, bitterness and revenge expressed so often today, the soft note of forgiveness comes as a healing balm. Not least is its effect on the forgiver.

I’m going to work on forgiveness and trying to turn my burdens over to the Lord for His “yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light.”

What do you all think about forgiving and forgetting?  (Sorry for the somewhat rambling post.  Was just working things out while I wrote)

Mormonism and Pain

judaskiss

Last night I had a spirited discussion on twitter about trials.  The statement was made “In the present, we call them trials; in the future we will call them tender mercies of The Lord.” .  I took issue with the statement because trials are still trials even if they serve a noble purpose in the end.  To me calling them tender mercies from the Lord is like giving people permission to cause pain because in the end the Lord uses it to do good.  As my old seminary teacher used to say

‘Judas is not off the hook’. 

I actually heard someone argue once that rape victims should be grateful for their experience because it made them strong and turn to the Lord.  The person last night was not inferring this but isn’t it a necessary stretch of the argument that if trials are truly blessings from the Lord than when we are victimized (the worst kind of trial) it is secretly a blessing and we should be grateful for it.

No! Now, we shouldn’t be bitter and allow it to control our life but call evil, evil, call trials, trials and be grateful for the Lord helping you through the evil and the trials. Just because you are able to clean dirty clothes does not mean the dirt didn’t exist!

This goes to the question of forgiving and forgetting- a question of much debate in the church, can you really forget?  Some claim that through the atonement you can forget sins and move on.  I’d say you can forget the pain but not the event itself.  We are humans and I don’t see how you can just erase such trauma from your mind and I have about as intimate and close a relationship with Jesus Christ of anyone I know.  So far no forgetting but the pain is lessened.

In fact, I have found that those moments of pain are sometimes the most clear, the most distinct of my life.  I’ve always found it ironic that the memories of being bullied and harassed as a child are clear as day in my mind but the happy times like Christmases and family vacations are a blur.  Why is that?  Why do we remember the tough times so clearly and not the good?  I’m not sure.

In any case, I have not been able to forget my pain; nor, do I necessarily want to.  I learned a lot of hard lessons through God’s walking me through the pain.  I grew close to Him as He helped me see the higher purpose and that I was loved by Him.  Does that mean he sent down the bullies so that I would be close to Him?  Of course not!  Judas is not off the hook and neither are the bullies or rapists or whatever hurts us in this life!

Perhaps we cannot forgive and forget because time does not stand still and we can forever live with effects of even repented sin.

The reason I wanted to title this post Mormonism and Pain is I thought I might explain why some things seem to be particularly painful to Mormons compared to other Christians.  You see, we believe in an eternal growth cycle.  We believe the things we do here on this earth have eternal consequences and that a mistake now while always redeemable still can have eternal results.

For example, I met a family on my mission who years before decided that paying tithing was too hard and fallen away from the church.  Eventually they came back to full fellowship and restored their temple covenants, which was great, but it could not take away years of inactivity when they were raising their children.

In addition, the family found no suitable replacement for teaching their children right and wrong (as many who leave Mormonism are able to do quite successfully) so they were without much of a moral compass and certainly far away from the teachings of the church.  Zoom ahead to the present and the children are way off track with prison sentences and illegitimate pregnancies as examples. So, yes they came back to Jesus and His grace, which is fabulous but their eternal family could be forever damaged because of choices they had already made. They cannot after all raise their children over again. It is that eternal gravity that can make us sad.

Another example can be seen in marriage. While divorce is never a pleasant experience for anyone of any faith or persuasion, think of the added pressure for Mormons where an eternal family is being dissolved.   Even a break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend can be all the more devastating because for at least a moment the individuals involved could see them as part of an eternal union.  When things don’t work out its brutal because of the potential.  Of course, when they do the eternal covenants make things all the more sweet and happy but there is that darker, more morose flip side to our beliefs.

So, when you scratch your head and wonder ‘Why are they making such a big deal over this?’  Remember that for Mormons we are seeing things through a longer and larger telescope than you.  To us, we can see eternity and have it as our goal.  There is nothing more important to a Mormon than eternal families but that is not a guarantee.  Human action does affect whether we will be with our loved one’s again.  The song after all says ‘families can be together forever through Heavenly Father’s plan’. Pain and trials are an essential part of getting there but still more weighty than just a ‘hard time that will pass by’ especially when they are the result of sins, whether our own or sins of others that can, even if repented and forgiven, have eternal ramifications.

We also believe in covenants made on earth have massive importance.  In fact, they can only be made here or via proxy.  That’s how important our behavior and life on earth is to Mormon theology.  Mortality really matters, and the behaviors of human beings can have consequences for forever which can make us feel an eternal sadness (and joy!), and the sadness is sometimes shared even by God Himself:

Moses 7: 28-33 (this doesn’t sound like a God who is glad for trials/sadness of his people)

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the aresidue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

 29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst aweep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

 30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of aearths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy bcreations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

 31 And thou hast taken aZion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, bjustice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst cweep?

 32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own ahands, and I gave unto them their bknowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his cagency;

 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should alove one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they bhate their own blood;

btw- I’m not necessarily saying this pain is right or wrong, it just is, and so if you puzzle at why certain things are so painful for your Mormon friends this is the lens that many I know are looking through.  Just thought that might give a little empathy when you see the tears! Thanks

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/04/01/a-god-who-weeps/

The Snake Bite of Being Offended

President Brigham Young, the Mormon Prophet, once compared being offended to a poisonous snakebite. He said that “there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system.” He said, “If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.”

879805_com_snakes

I was thinking about this advice today when I felt offended, even hurt, over a miscommunication which had occurred with a friend. I won’t get into the details but suffice it to say a mistake I had made was criticized, and I was upset over the manner of the critique.  After the initial disagreement I sat fuming and crying.  “How dare they treat me like this?” There was even a side of me that thought “Just wait until they mess up, and I will show them how it feels”.

Naturally these were initial childish reactions, and they quickly passed.  After a few minutes I was able to calm down and analyze the situation.  I realized I had several options available:

1.  I could call back in a huff and let my anger out.

2.  I could ignore the problem and let it simmer.

3. I could call and discuss my feelings and reconcile.

I chose the latter option.  I called this friend and explained (with some tears!) that I accepted the content of their suggestions but the tone offended me. I told them of my hurt feelings.  As one might expect, they felt bad and said they did not mean to come across with that tone.

In the end, we were able to communicate and our relationship is better as a result.  This experience taught me a lesson.  Usually there is a productive way to express feelings instead of being offended or allowing hurt to well up until it explodes.  Believe me, I have learned the hard way that the other options lead to more pain and more ulcers!

Most people are trying to be good, non-offensive folks.  Sometimes the words, and the manner of those words  get in the way.  Like Brigham said finding ways to not be offended saves our lives from the poison of anger and bitterness.

On a slightly different note- thank you for the positive feedback on my blog.  I was just at an enrichment activity and someone mentioned how much they enjoy reading it.  Comments like that build me up and make me feel my small efforts are valued.  Thanks.

Happy Valentines Day

These are some of the people I love
These are some of the people I love

To all my friends and family-Happy Valentines Day! I hope you all had nice days. I had a very fun day with my good friend Melissa Noyes. We went to lunch, shopping and to the movies (we saw He’s Not that Into You, which I liked- don’t listen to the reviews!).

On a day of love let me say a few things about what love means to me. Love is a tear when we depart, it is the adrenaline on first seeing one another after parting, it is the forgiving kiss of a child, it is a hug from a grandfather, it is a phone call just when I needed one, it is a moment of clarity and self worth, it is a prayer answered, it is sweetness and purity, it is sexy and exciting.  It is all of these things and more. It cannot be summarized or put into words. It just is and we all know it when we feel it. Don’t we all live for that feeling? I do. I will flat out admit I have never been in love with a man but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt love or know what it means. No, no, I know and that is why I know it is worth the wait.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

I will end with my two favorite summaries of love.


The first is from Shakespeare’s 116 Sonnet-

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose Worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks;

But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved

—————————————–

 

The second is from Corinthians.  It uses the word charity, which means Godly love.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge;

And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not;

Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth