Friday, February 15, 2008

To Forgive or Not to Forgive?

. . . verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death.

My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.

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.

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

And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.
D&C 64:7-11

So how does one forgive another? How do you know when you have forgiven? Is it possible to be frustrated and forgiving at the same time? What if the person is still doing the thing that requires forgiveness, and has no foreseeable feeling of repentance? In that case, the wounds are perpetual. Such a case requires constantly working to forgive the newest wounds.

What if you are not seeking "occasion against" the person you are trying to forgive, but you can't quite get rid of feelings of hurt and frustration? What if you want to forgive, but don't know how to let go of the pain of what they have done because it is still ongoing? Forgiveness belongs to the Lord because only He "know[s] the hearts of all the children of men." Is it enough to want to forgive and to seek the Spirit, hoping that your feelings of anger and resentment will fade? What if those feelings are building because of repeat offenses and future consequences that you will have to pay? How do you let it go?

I'm afraid I'm not forgiving very well right now. I'm terrified of the consequences of not being able to find forgiveness. I have done so many things wrong myself! I'm begging for forgiveness myself. As long as I feel resentful and hurt, I don't think I can fully repent of my own weaknesses and mistakes. I want to let go. Usually, I'm uncannily good at letting go, but not this time. What does that mean eternally? I think I'm at a point where I have to pray to forgive and say, I want to forgive, then when forgiveness comes, I'll welcome it.

I'd welcome any suggestions that might speed things up. I hate feeling this way.


  1. Sometimes forgiveness takes time. It is such a sweet feeling when you get there! I may have more to stay later. I wanted to stop by and let you know that I was thinking of you. Barb

  2. Thanks, Barb. I'm always glad to see you around.

  3. This has helped me greatly when pondering these kinds of questions:

    The Atonement not only benefits the sinner but also benefits those sinned against—that is, the victims. By forgiving “those who trespass against us” (JST, Matt. 6:13) the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort to those who have been innocently victimized by the sins of others. The basic source for the healing of the soul is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is true whether it be from the pain of a personal tragedy or a terrible national calamity such as we have recently experienced in New York and Washington, D.C., and near Pittsburgh.

    A sister who had been through a painful divorce wrote of her experience in drawing from the Atonement. She said: “Our divorce … did not release me from the obligation to forgive. I truly wanted to do it, but it was as if I had been commanded to do something of which I was simply incapable.” Her bishop gave her some sound advice: “Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in.” Many months passed as this struggle to forgive continued. She recalled: “During those long, prayerful moments … I tapped into a life-giving source of comfort from my loving Heavenly Father. I sense that he was not standing by glaring at me for not having accomplished forgiveness yet; rather he was sorrowing with me as I wept. …

    “In the final analysis, what happened in my heart is for me an amazing and miraculous evidence of the Atonement of Christ. I had always viewed the Atonement as a means of making repentance work for the sinner. I had not realized that it also makes it possible for the one sinned against to receive into his or her heart the sweet peace of forgiving.” 33

    The injured should do what they can to work through their trials, and the Savior will “succor his people according to their infirmities.” 34 He will help us carry our burdens. Some injuries are so hurtful and deep that they cannot be healed without help from a higher power and hope for perfect justice and restitution in the next life. Since the Savior has suffered anything and everything that we could ever feel or experience, 35 He can help the weak to become stronger. He has personally experienced all of it. He understands our pain and will walk with us even in our darkest hours.

    (James E. Faust, “The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 19–22)

  4. SilverRain:
    First, let me say how much I appreciate your comments. Really. I mostly read blogs- just a few of them. But your comments always seem "spot on" to me. You seem to have a very good grasp on truth, and I appreciate your sharing.

    I wish I had something helpful to offer regarding the forgiveness question. I think m&m's comment and quote from President Faust is perfect. In these difficult cases, I think foregiveness is a gift, and we can only feel the sweetness of forgiveness as we turn the burden over to the Lord and lay it at His feet. I am sure that is much more easily said than done....

    I don't know if you like to read or if it is helpful in an instance like this, but Corrie ten Boom's account of "The Hidding Place" is a great example of forgiving. Of course the best example in all things, including forgiving, is the Savior.

    Ultimately, I think it comes down to love. When we are blessed with sufficient love in our hearts, we can no longer harbor any grudge or resentment and we are able to forgive. Again, easier said than done....

    As with other things, I think this often is a process that requires some patience. Hang in there!


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