02 December 2012

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” -C.S. Lewis

In my wildest imagination, I never thought I would be placed into a situation that made forgiveness feel so entirely impossible. I've had plenty of moments where the need for forgiveness has felt unbearably painful, but in my heart of hearts I always believed that I could do it. It is required of us to forgive all men; we know this. There are times I get so angry. There are times I feel like sadness has swallowed me whole. Why should I need to forgive someone who is perfectly aware of how much pain they have caused, and they really actually couldn't care less if they tried? Why should I forgive someone who is unaffected by the pain they have caused and the things they have done? Why should I forgive someone who really feels my forgiveness is completely inconsequential and who finds their actions unbelievably easy to laugh off? (Literally.) I ask again, why does it really matter when the person who needs forgiving doesn't care if they are forgiven? I could write for days words taken from church literature, or spoken by our apostles, who explain it so eloquently. In less fancier words, the answer to those questions, is simply because it is right. It is required. It is a commandment of God. If we intend to live with our Father and Savior one day, compromising forgiveness will never be an option. 

There are times when the thought of forgiving someone or something feels physically and emotionally unthinkable, but we are still required to do it. I think of the Saviors life. The Lords great friend Judas, one of the twelve apostles, betrayed His very maker for thirty pieces of silver. I don't know Judas' fate, but I do know the Lord is perfectly just and merciful, and I can't help but seriously think if Judas had come to the Lord with a broken heart and a repentant spirit, Christ might have forgiven him. That very day in Calvary, when our Savior was nailed to a cross, He looked to the heavens, and said so perfectly and so purely, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' Christ the Savior not only forgave those people who crucified Him, but, He asked His perfect Father - who with no doubt was in the deepest, darkest, depths of despair - to do the same.

So... here I am, as small as can be, refusing to forgive someone who has caused me pain. Now obviously, Christ is our Savior for a reason. He is perfect in His actions. His example is purity and goodness. But if that is what we strive to become, if that is what mortality is all about, who am I to not extend the same mercy that the Lord has extended towards me? Who am I not to extend forgiveness to someone, when Christ expects people to extend the same forgiveness towards me? Who am I to question whether or not I should extend someone mercy, when I pray that the Lord extends me the same mercy? Who am I to question Gods requirements? Christ paid the price for not only my seemingly unquenchable temporary sorrow, but He paid for the sins of the very person who inflicted that sorrow. If my goal is to return to my Savior one day, which it most certainly is, you bet your bottom dollar forgiveness will be expected from me. 

Christ is the light and the Savior of the world. He knows our every sorrow, every regret, every disappointment. He knows us intimately and perfectly. He is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and this month, this Christmas, I am eternally grateful for my Redeemer, and the path He has paved for me. In the spirit of my Savior, in the spirit of my Saviors birth, in pure gratitude for absolutely everything He has given me, I am more determined than ever to forgive what needs to be forgiven, and move forward with my faith and integrity in tact. That is the way of the Lord. That is what is required as a disciple of Christ. The Lord never said it would be easy, He made it known it wouldn't. But can you imagine falling short in mortality, to interfere with your place in the eternities? I entirely believe forgiveness does more for ourselves than it does for the forgiven. It humbles us. It strengthens us. And above all, it makes us more worthy in our Heavenly Father and Saviors eyes. What more could you ask for this Christmas? I love my Heavenly Father and Savior. I know this gospel is true. I am eternally indebted to  my Savior and His undying love for me. This Christmas I have so much to be grateful for, and I owe absolutely all of it to Him.

There is a beautiful book which I'm sure most have read, called The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball. I would love to quote from it, but honestly the thought is overwhelming because I could never choose a particular part to quote. The whole book is perfect, so please just read the whole thing. I will leave you with a quote from Elder Holland, who, by the way, I love so much.

"... There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life... That is not good. It is not Christian. It stands in terrible opposition to the grandeur and majesty of the Atonement of Christ... When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of.. it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound which the Son of God Himself died trying to heal. Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change, and improve. Is that faith? Yes. Is that hope? Yes. Is it charity? Yes, above all, it is charity...

"Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I the Lord remember them no more." (D&C 58:42)

Provision of course is that repentance has to be sincere, but when it is, and when honest effort is being made to progress, we are guilty of the greater sin, if we keep remembering, and recalling, and rebashing someone with their earlier mistakes... Forgive, and do that which is harder than to forgive, forget.  And when it comes up to mind again, forget it again... Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness... that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever."

With my whole heart, I know these words are true. Elder Busche, also says it so simply, but perfectly.

"If someone hurts you so much that your feelings seem to choke you, forgive, and you will be free again."

I know that the men who lead our church are called of God. I know that their words are said only to help us live the best lives we can. I know that this gospel, and each and all of its teachings are true, and they will help us live lives full of joy, and happiness, and peace, and prosperity.