“Will You Forgive Me?” Liahona, Sept. 1998, 7
I glanced out my window one summer day and saw her—my enemy—coming up the street. I dreaded approaching her, but here was my opportunity. It was now or never. My stomach churned, my heart pounded, and I shook all over as I raced out the front door.
Our animosity had started out innocently enough as a motherly instinct to protect our children. My son had fought with her son, and she came to my house to talk to me. But I felt she was telling me how I should be raising my son. While the boys soon made up their differences, their mothers did not.
Then, in the following weeks, I began to hear from our neighbors that she was making critical comments about me. I was deeply hurt, and soon I, too, was criticizing her behind her back. We went to great lengths to avoid each other, including walking on opposite sides of the street. The contention continued for two long years.
One day as I knelt in prayer, I was struck by the thought that if I continued harboring ill feelings toward my neighbor, the Spirit could not abide with me. I realized I had let hate grow in my heart, and the hate was eating away at my soul.
I desperately needed my Heavenly Father and his Spirit to be with me, and I sorely needed to repent. I fasted and prayed for help in mending the breach between us. I needed an opportunity to make things right.
Now it seemed my prayers had been answered. Gathering my courage, I ran out the door and grabbed her by her shoulders. She stared at me in shock. Quickly I blurted out, “Will you please, please forgive me? I do not know if we can ever be friends, and I do not know what you will do in the future, but I vow never to speak ill of you again. I will no longer consider you my enemy.”
What happened next is hard to express. The sweet Spirit of the Lord enveloped both of us. As we embraced, the bitterness melted away. We cried and hugged and laughed.
Love, joy, and peace are such sweet companions that I wondered why I had chosen to carry around the heavy burdens of anger and ill will that had weighed down my soul and sapped my spiritual strength for so long. I am pleased to say I kept my vow, and we did become friends. I have since moved away from that neighborhood, but I have not forgotten the lessons of forgiveness and love I learned that precious summer day.