Forgiveness

The past week or two, I’ve been feeling on edge. I couldn’t put my finger on it until last night. I had been feeling as fragile as glass and was quick to feel hurt and offended. I knew how I was feeling wasn’t right but I couldn’t seem to snap out of it.  I had been praying for help and was reminded last night how Heavenly Father hears our prayers. The answer may come after a lot of prayer and pondering, but the answer will come. He wants us to work through it, to help us learn and grow. Living through it has taught me priceless lessons. The key is to work through things WITH Him, not to try and figure it out alone. He wants to help us-and in eternal ways.

I’m on the sensitive side.  I can be hurt easily and I’ve tried to overcome this in life.  Someone once told me she chose one day not to be offended and since then she never is.  “Wow” I thought.  I couldn’t even imagine that. I’ve tried really hard to not let things get to me.  I’ve sadly even tried just living defensively-putting up walls so I don’t get hurt. Sometimes I’m full of love and nothing seems to get me down.  Yet sometimes I’m as fragile as glass and every little thing wears at me.

So I’ve been feeling easily hurt lately and last night my husband said something.  I quickly said, “What’s that supposed to mean?”  Feeling hurt before he even answered.  Poor guy.  And I looked at myself and thought, “What is wrong with me?! Why are all these things bothering me that before didn’t bother me at all?” And I wondered yet again why the past several days have felt heavy and achy.  Then my answer came.  It came and has been coming ever since.  There has been many “aha” and “oh yeah” moments.  Here I was trying not to feel hurt at what I thought was rather hurtful-then a thought came to my mind…”you’re trying to forgive all these wrongs-but what if there is nothing to forgive? What if you rewind to before you even feel hurt and remember there is nothing there to forgive?”

And I was reminded of a conversation I had with someone earlier in the week.  She asked how I didn’t have issues with someone over something that happened many years earlier.  For the most part, this wasn’t a problem for me.  I knew distance was best.  That I could feel love and no hard feelings at a distance.  But the moment I felt hard feelings-that was a problem.  It was clear to me that I would only be fooling myself if I harbored any resentment.  When I thought of “forgiving” this person, I even felt uncomfortable with it.  Because then I would be saying they “wronged” me and I couldn’t say that.  I felt compassion and concern for this person-and when I didn’t, I knew I was wrong.

I realized I had been feeling “wronged” the last couple of weeks.  The littlest things were bothering me, even old memories about a comment some guy made at a baseball game over a decade ago was bothering me! Left and right I felt hurt, it was like a snowball affect and when I would feel offended about one thing-there would be a dozen more things to feel hurt about.  Life was feeling so hard and painful. What I really needed to do was seek forgiveness for the resentment I was feeling.  I kept feeling hurt and wanted people to know how mean they were.  People need to know the suffering they cause!  I was trying to be the one to judge and exact justice-but only the Savior can do that.  He asks us to forgive all men always. He is the only one that knows everything about everyone.  He is the kindest judge there is, and reminds us how much we need to have mercy for others because oh how we need it ourselves.

Over the summer I had been thinking about forgiveness a lot.  And I believed there was nothing people could do that would justify me feeling bitter and withholding love and forgiveness-and I know feeling this kind of love toward people is a big reason why I experienced so much peace for a long time.  Yet I started to forget…I started to feel bad about this or that.  When I focus on how I was “wronged” I tie myself to it. And then I have to “forgive” to be released. That’s the hard way-the times I never feel wronged at all is sweet peace. When I think I’m taking the high road and mercifully forgiving someone-what I really need to do is ask for forgiveness for the resentment and unkindness on my part. The best way is to not even go to the hurt, resentful and feeling wronged place I go to. This helps me focus on the humanity of people-and keeps me feeling the love.  When I focus on how someone hurt me, the peace disappears.  That peace departing is the Spirit leaving, because I’m giving into the temptation of being offended and judging others.

Here are some quotes that have helped me on my journey, they come from “Bonds That Make Us Free”.  The chapter on forgiveness in this book is really, really good.

“As long as we see others as needing our forgiveness, we will continue regarding ourselves as their victim and will remain accusing still.  We live free of bondage of accusing, afflicted feelings only by ceasing to find and take offense.”

“Of all the initiatives people can take who feel a devastating wrong has been made them miserable, one stands above all others in effectiveness.  It is actually seeking forgiveness for having refused to forgive.  I have observed that when individuals have struggled for years to escape the effects of abuse and have tried everything they can think of to forgive their abuser, they rarely succeed.  The reason is that the forgiveness they aim to produce is a counterfeit to real forgiveness.  It could not be otherwise, because they continue to believe they have been offended.  But when they recognize that the wrongdoing has been theirs, good things start to happen-but not until then.”

“Forgiveness cannot be done from self-concern. It must be done for the truth’s sake, or to right a wrong, or out of compassion for those we previously condemned by our refusal to forgive.”

“We need to note one more element of genuine forgiveness.  Just prior to forgiving someone, we will have been finding him or her offensive.  But with forgiveness comes a realization of the offensiveness of this.  How accusing we must have appeared to that person!  Whatever he or she may have done that we previously found offensive has changed our memory of it…the past is not what we had thought.  Recently we had wondered whether we could forgive that person.  Now we wonder whether he or she can forgive us.”

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