Sunday, April 3, 2011

Forgiveness

The last two days I have been immersed in trying to listen to our modern day prophets and apostles teachings as they speak in a world wide general conference. This has proven rather challenging with our highly sleep deprived almost 2 year old present.

Noble is sick and we are struggling to get him to sleep now that he won't stay in a crib. Naps have become almost totally impossible. I think we managed to get a 20 minute power nap in today. And considering the fact that he woke up for the day at 4 am it has been a bit crazy. But I digress ...

I did have one thought today as I listened to conference that I felt was worth blogging. I am not sure the talk being given addressed this topic specifically but it spurred a few thoughts on forgiveness in my own mind.

I think the talk was on repentance. As I listened I started thinking about forgiveness. I was thinking about how forgiving the Lord is when we turn to Him in sincere repentance. Whether the sin is great or small, the Lord is so generous to forgive the repentant sinner.

The Savior has instructed us to forgive our fellowman. It is not even our place to decide if forgiveness is merited by the sinner, we are simply to forgive and leave judgement to the Savior, who truly knows the state of the heart. Forgiving is actually a service to ourselves. It removes the bitterness of anger and revenge from our hearts and allows us to move past our sorrows and pain to a place of peace, regardless of whether the offender is sorry or not.

Some things are harder to completely forgive than others of course. Some things are so difficult to forgive they require the help of the Savior himself to let go of the pain. But I do believe forgiveness is always possible with the help of the Savior and it is always the best path for us.

As I thought about this, I thought about how so often the times it is hardest to dole out forgiveness is when the offender is yourself. Sometimes it seems that we must be the last person to forgive ourselves and if anyone is still hurting from our actions, including ourselves, we must hold that grudge and blame. The tragedy of this just hit me as I was listening.

What a tool Satan has in this self destructive pattern. I thought of a conversation I had with one my children a few days after Camille died. This child felt Camille's death was her fault. It wasn't. Any small thing any one of us did that day could have made that day different. It wasn't anyone's fault. Certainly not this child's. To hear her express this feeling literally broke my heart.

I talked to her about the difference between failing to prevent a tragedy and causing one to happen. I told her it was not her job to prevent such things. I told her that if she needed to blame someone, she could blame me. But the Truth was that it wasn't anyone's fault. It just happened and I felt strongly that it was Camille's time to go and if she hadn't drowned that day she would have died some other way and maybe some more painful way. We just can't know for sure.

And as I talked to her, I could see my Heavenly Father feeling the very same emotions I was anytime I blamed myself for not keeping Camille safe that day. The experience helped me forgive myself.

When we neglect to forgive ourselves once the Savior has forgiven us, we place ourselves as a higher judge than Him. I know how difficult it can be to forgive ourselves when we have either knowingly or unknowingly caused great pain to ourselves or others. But we are commanded to forgive all men, ourselves included. And I know that with the Savior's help, it is ALWAYS possible and it is always the best path.

10 comments:

Emily in Wonderland said...

This is one of those things about the LDS faith that I just don't get.

I am a HUGE fan and proponent and cheerleader for this faith. I contemplate being baptized and converting on a regular basis. I've investigated the church for the last 12 years.

This is one of those humps I can't get over.

I think this usually has some connection in discussion to the Atonement too? That's where I've discussed it before.

Anyway... For me, raised in the Lutheran church, we of course were taught that if we ask for forgiveness (and of course, truly feel sorrow over our actions), we will be forgiven by the Lord. But... how we feel about ourselves and the choices we made or continue to make have nothing to do with that.

The first time a member talked to me about how you shouldn't blame yourself for doing X because God already forgave you, and you're wasting, or not appreciating, or something to that effect- the atonement.... I was totally lost. And I still am.

I was raised to think (and still do, but i want to understand so I keep trying here) that one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Feelings are feelings, and if I am blaming myself, or judging myself, that's something I can pray to God to help me with stop doing, but those feelings are in no way a disrespect to the things He has done for me. I know he has forgiven me... but that doesn't make my emotional struggle any less hard. He is a bigger person than I am. A better person. The father to us all, and he has those capabilities. I am human, and I do not. I'm weak and I have failings. I do! And I think that's okay too.. .I think that's what makes us human.

I don't think God was wrong to forgive me... I think that I'm not God and the power to forgive myself is not as easy for me as it is for Him.

And again, that one has nothing to do with the other. I was never taught that there was any connection between forgiving yourself and God forgiving you.

It SO confuses me, perplexes me... I just get so lost on this topic. I have alot to forgive myself for, and I think about this alot.

Thank you for writing it!

Emily in Wonderland said...

I think also, that it always REALLY bothered me, that it is some sort of... I can't think of a good phrase here.... that's it's some sort of disrespect/snub/"place ourselves as a higher judge" toward God type deal for me to feel bad about myself.

When I feel badly about myself... I'm not trying to launch an attack on God! I'm just throwing myself a pity party over here... So this whole line of thought is just upsetting to me too. Can't I just be upset and blame myself for a couple of years without worrying that I'm hurting God by doing so?

Does that make sense? Am I making any sense at all?

Like I said. I just don't get it, and I want to. I just dont know how. :(

Jonathan Waite said...

Emily,
This "placing yourself as a higher judge" actually was (I believe) first coined by non-Mormon Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, who said "If we refuse to forgive ourselves when Christ has, we make ourselves a higher judge than He."

but the point isn't to beat yourself up over it. The point is to arrive at that point. Human emotions have to work themselves out and find resolution. On the other hand, it is a sad case of wasted time when you spend DECADES of grief and sorrow due to a past sin or wrong committed that festers. That's the singular beauty of forgiveness: it brings emotional freedom to all involved even if there are still scars.

The Barrow Bunch said...

I absolutely love your blog!!!!! I draw inspiration from it daily. I check it every day to see what great words of wisdom you have written. I am so grateful to you for the amazing words you share. When a new day comes and there isn't anything new; I am like a little kid who just can't wait for Christmas to get here.
I lost my little girl almost 10 years ago and even though years have gone by I find comfort in your words. Saving my pennies, so I can purchase your blog book. Thank you for the great blessing you have been to me.

Anonymous said...

forgivness in and of itself is much easier said than done. for myself having a life altering betrayal put upon my child was not an easy thing to forgive.
after years of festering the wound the perp created - i have forgiven and so has my child. it has not been an easy task.
we also must understand that forgivness does not mean you wipe their injustices away or that you give them a clean slate... it only means that you have passed judgement onto the most just of judges. we all meet our maker eventually - everything will be told.
the healing portion begins once you allow yourself to forgive.

Sue said...

Wonderful thoughts on forgiveness. Thanks.

=)

Anonymous said...

this was such an insightful post!!! I really enjoy how thoughtful (and tactful) you are in your blog.

I find myself obsessing over things I could have done differently, little moves I could have made that would have made my life turn out differently. I think being guilt-stricken over even sometimes minor things can be --- sinful? I always feel like I am not doing ENOUGH. I am not spending enough time with my parents and you know they are getting older, I am not doing enough with my kids, I don't spend enough time on my house, etc etc etc. It can turn into a big obsessional loop.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered buying a crib tent? They sell them at Babys'R'Us. Best $65 I ever spent!

sagedancer said...

I love your blog and I love how you have put this post on forgiveness in perspective.
I can understand why others might find forgiveness of self confusing. We do have to remember that Heavenly Father is indeed a loving Father. He wants us to repent of our sins, but once we have completed that process even He remembers our sins no more. To remain in that state of continuous guilt keeps us stuck, unable to move forward toward Eternal Happiness. It is not so much a disrespect as much as a sad misunderstanding that Jesus Christ paid the price that ALL sins could be attoned for and that ALL could repent and find happiness again. In addition, through the attonement, All can find peace from grief, sorrow, anger, pain and all afflictions in this earth life because our Heavenly Father loves us so very much.
Thank you so much for helping us understand that even more through your blog.

Chelsa said...

great post! thanks for sharing!