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Monday, January 14, 2013

My story -- Forgiveness

See previous posts on this topic here.

When I was 14, I attended yet another LDS girls' camp. This year, I was living in Maine so camp was somewhere in the woods (we might even have been in Vermont), surrounded by fireflies.

At one of our fireside devotionals, the Young Women President (of my branch) shared a story with us about forgiveness. I don't remember any of the specifics, but it was probably a version of a lesson I'd heard a thousand times. This year I was ready for it. My heart had softened and I had considered my responsibility to offer forgiveness to someone in my life who had never asked for it.

The experience I had with this left an impression on me that I still remember over a decade later. I knelt at my bedside to pray and get this burden off my shoulders. I no longer wanted to hate him. I no longer wanted to feel bitterness. I wanted to let it go.

Forgiveness doesn't need to be asked for in order to be given. Although I hadn't spoken to my dad since he made his decision to leave (in a literal blaze of glory, I might add), I knew it could still be done. I knew I could talk with God and finally feel at peace.

Physically, mentally and emotionally, I felt lighter after making that offering.

In the years since, when participating in discussions on forgiveness, I feel such relief knowing that I did what was right. I gave myself an opportunity to prevent something horrible from festering and poisoning me and my life. If you think about it, forgiving my dad was more for me than it was for him.

It doesn't mean I ever have to see him again. It doesn't mean what he did is okay. It doesn't mean I think I'm a better person than someone else who struggles to forgive. I'm an imperfect person too, and I hope that when I need forgiveness for my mistakes, it will be granted. So I do unto others as I wish to be done unto me.

"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." Doctrine and Covenants 64:8-11

3 comments:

  1. forgiveness really is freeing. i am glad you were able to not let it tear you apart or poison you. its not an easy thing to do for sure, but i know i am always so much happier when i do.

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  2. Wow, you were able to forgive that quickly. I admire that more than you will ever know. I hold onto hurt because I feel like it is a way of protecting myself from that person and their problems. I know it is silly and that it hurts me far more than the other person, but letting go of that "protection" is so scary and unsettling. Thank you for this post. I hope I can find that place at age 31 that you were in at age 14.

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  3. The thing about forgiveness is that the other party involved doesn't necessarily have to know about it. In my case, it could have been dangerous (or maybe still is) to see my dad in person and talk about it. I have no desire to do that, so I sought an alternative that allowed me to let go of HATE. Hate is so exhausting.

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