Struggling to Say ‘I’m Sorry’
September 1999

“Struggling to Say ‘I’m Sorry’” Ensign, Sept. 1999, 64–65

Struggling to Say “I’m Sorry”

Someone once said the most important commandments for us to try to keep are the ones we have the most difficulty keeping. For me, one such commandment is found in 3 Nephi 12:23–24 [3 Ne. 12:23–24]: “Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—

“Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.”

As a new member of the Church at age 19, I was conscientiously trying to do what was right, and most of the time it was easy to be good. I had no difficulty keeping the Word of Wisdom, attending church, praying, and reading my scriptures. Then one day I found myself facing a spiritual challenge.

I was a freshman in college living in one of the dormitories when I befriended another young woman. However, one day she did something that greatly offended me. I was angry and made a quick decision to end our friendship. I avoided her whenever possible, wanting nothing more to do with her. I felt justified in my actions—after all, she had been in the wrong. But the scripture in 3 Nephi 12:23–24 [3 Ne. 12:23–24] kept surfacing. It’s surprising how specific scriptures become vivid in one’s mind at certain times. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or study in peace. This went on for a few days until I finally decided to face the situation. I knew what I needed to do, and I prayed for Heavenly Father’s help.

The walk to my friend’s room seemed long. My heart was pounding, and my palms were sweating as I knocked on her door. Secretly I hoped she wasn’t in her room, but she was. She opened the door and let me in. She looked glad to see me, but I wasn’t glad to see her.

Gathering all my nerve and swallowing my pride, I explained that she had offended me but that I wanted to reconcile our differences and renew our friendship. To my surprise, she didn’t even know she had made me angry. Then she started to cry. I felt ashamed. I realized I was the one who needed to ask for forgiveness. I had made a hasty judgment. We hugged and asked one another’s forgiveness. The gloom I had felt lifted, and a feeling of peace came into my heart.

This lesson on forgiveness turned out to be a precursor to a larger challenge I would soon face. My father and I had a terrible argument, and we stopped speaking to each other. I was sure my father would never apologize. In fact, there were already two relatives he never spoke to as a result of earlier disputes. I would need to take the first step.

But I felt hurt and believed I was not in the wrong. Why should I give in first? I thought. Then the familiar scripture in Nephi came into my mind again: “First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me.” I knew I should not carry this grudge with me. I had to let go of my pride or I would not progress spiritually.

Going to my father to apologize was one of the hardest things I had ever done. My pride was so strong it seemed I had to force the words from my mouth. But the words came, and again the gloom I had felt disappeared. Later, conversation became easier, and my father received me gladly. I realized he loved me but because of his pride he had been unable to say he was sorry.

I’m grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the ability it has given me to forgive and ask for forgiveness. How sad it would be to allow pride to keep us away from those we love.