“Seeking Strength to Forgive,” Ensign, Apr. 2012, 59–60
I could scarcely believe what had happened. A member of the Church, a trusted and valued friend, had cheated and stolen from my father’s family. My emotions ran the gamut from denial to rage. Could I move past this way of thinking?
My answer was no! So I ignored the scriptures and the prophets’ counsel to forgive, believing my situation was different. Surely God would not ask me to let go of my feelings. I hoarded them in my heart, justifying my anger and need for vengeance.
I visited with priesthood authorities concerning the matter. They reminded me that the deed was in the past and that it could not be undone, and they counseled me to move on. Disappointed that they failed to see the seriousness of what had happened, I turned away from them. Soon my angry feelings were directed at them as well as the offender. I found reason to criticize Church leaders in various instances, voicing my discontent to others and complaining about those who had failed, in my opinion, to take action.
Ultimately, my actions did not bring me happiness or even satisfaction. Instead, my sense of discontent grew. I found myself pulling away from the Church, from the teachings I had always believed, and, to my shame, from the Lord. My calling in Primary no longer brought me the joy it once had.
Each day I withdrew further from my family and friends, preferring the solitude of my own perspective. I realized that this path was bringing me no comfort and that my spiritual life was spiraling downward, taking my sense of self-worth with it. At last I recognized the cause of my despair, but I still felt powerless to pull myself out of it. The sense of betrayal I felt had begun to define my entire life.
Finally, the counsel I had received from others to forgive began to take root. I received priesthood blessings. I spent hours poring over the scriptures, searching for situations dealing with forgiveness. I studied not only the literal words but also the spirit of the words.
Among the verses I examined was Moroni 6:8: “But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.”
Did this apply to my situation? The individual who had offended me had not confessed or apologized and, in fact, maintained there was no wrongdoing involved.
I pondered the Savior’s counsel to the Nephites:
“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” (3 Nephi 13:14–15).
I also read and reread the passage that says, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).
I could not overlook the stark command of these words. How could I call myself a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints if I failed to forgive this person?
The scriptures gave me a measure of peace, as did constant and humble prayer. I recognized I could not control the actions of others—I could control only myself. I pleaded with Heavenly Father to remove the hardness from my heart. In humility and repentance, I confessed my own sins and begged Him to treat me with the mercy I had failed to extend to another.
I have learned that the process of forgiveness is continual. In this, as in other things, I remain a work in progress. I hold fast to the knowledge that the Lord will offer His love and grace to all who diligently seek it.