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Forgiveness and The Atonement

Learning to Forgive
Divorce often creates feelings of bitterness. These feelings are not unusual, but peace will come to you only when you learn to forgive both your former mate and yourself. President Gordon B. Hinckley, in counseling us to ask the Lord for strength to forgive, cites the Savior’s example. On Calvary, in his most terrible hour, the Lord cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.) President Hinckley points out that “brooding [over past wrongs] becomes as a gnawing and destructive canker.” He asks, “Is there a virtue more in need of application in our time than the virtue of forgiving and forgetting?” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 62.)

For many divorced people, bad feelings persist long after the divorce itself is final. Untruths told by a former spouse can be especially painful. Resist the temptation to quarrel or to tell family and friends about your former spouse’s mistakes in an effort to “get even” or to justify your position.

“I finally decided,” says one divorced man, “that everything does not have to be ‘set right.’ Sometimes it is impossible. We are what and who we are. Our true friends and family know us well and will not believe idle gossip. The better way is to ‘let it go’—as chaff in the air. Attempted answers only nurture the tale and require a greater accusation next time. It takes two to make an argument. When one is silent, there is no dispute. Far more is accomplished with a smile and a soft word.”

Elder Marvin J. Ashton has given this counsel: “We need not quarrel or compete. … We need not spend our time in retaliation. … How disarming it must be to [one’s] enemies [and the Adversary] to see the valiant moving forward with poise and dignity under all challenging circumstances. … Doing the will of God on a daily basis leaves no time for contention or confrontation.” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 60.)

“I find it helpful,” says one woman, “to pray away my anger. I pray for the spirit of the Holy Ghost to prompt me to say the right thing even when I don’t have time to stop and think what to say. I find I end up swallowing a lot of words that don’t need to be said.”

One divorced sister recognized the canker of resentment and bitterness growing in her life and decided to work actively at overcoming it. On the inside of her closet door, she put a list of things she wanted to accomplish each day. Among the usual reminders of diet, exercise, and scripture reading was the admonition to refrain from saying unkind things about her former husband. Each morning she prayed to ask for help from the Lord in her task of forgiving. Each night she privately “graded” herself and reported her progress to the Lord in prayer. Sometime later a man said to her, “My wife tells me you never say anything bad about your former husband.” She smiled inwardly. With the Lord’s help, she was succeeding in her battle against bitterness.    

After Divorce; Clearing the Hurdles   Mary Jane Knights  Ensign  Aug 1985

The Consequences of  Unforgiveness Can Result In:
  • Depression
  • Bitterness and negativity
  • Hurt to those around me
  • Physical, spiritual and emotional sickness
  • Loneliness

The Benefits of Forgiveness Are:
  • Freedom to move on
  • Healing
  • Antidote for resentment and anger
  • The situation no longer has power over me 

Forgiveness is not...
  • A feeling
  • Minimizing the offense
  • Condoning the other person's behavior
  • Trusting the other person
  • Letting the other person off the hook
  • Expecting an apology
  • Forgetting

"Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case
of the widow." Isaiah 1:17

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive
your sins." Matthew 6:14-15
Forgiveness is:
  • Freedom and release
  • A process
                          -Beware of false doubt
  • Living in a higher realm
                          -Deuteronomy 28:13
  • Unilateral
                           -Not synonymous with reconciliation
  • A reflection of my maturity
                          -Take responsibility for my actions and attitudes

The Process of Forgiving
  • Ask God to forgive me
  • Turn the other person over to God
  • Transfer hurts and offenses I've been carrying

Forgiveness is Liberating!

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall
not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Found in "He Did Deliver Me From Bondage" By Colleen C Harrison

A Parable:

One day I dreamed a dream and saw myself in a scene that was almost like something out of Gone with the WInd. I was walking up a long, tree-lined lane, and though I was ragged and wounded and still using a cruthch to steady myself I was full of excitiment. I had just entered int o the last stretch in what had been a long and perilous journey home. Just over the next rise was "the green, green grass of home" and my family waiting to greet me. Even there along the lane, every tree was filled with yellow ribbons., and I when the breeze carried just right, and I had my good ear turned, I could hear the music and smell the feast at the great party they were having.  

Suddenly I noticed another figure hobbling along just ahead of me. Whoever this poor soul was, I could tell he was in at least as bad a shape as I was. But even with all his wounds, he had made it this far too. My heart went out to him in fellowship, and quickening my pace, I hurried to overtake him, calling out to him, "Brother,wait! Wait for me!"

He stopped and turned.My heart went chill as all feelings drained from it. I recognized his face. He had been my enemy, the very one who had inflicted the deepest wounds- wounds that had made my journey so slow and painful-wounds that I still bore unhealed. Not him! How could he be here too?

I halted my steps, unable to approach him any further, unwilling to say anything. As he called out "Who's there? I can't see you" I realized he was blind. Rather than answer his plaintive cry, I held my breath. Soon he turned, dejected, and shuffled on his way.

I didn't have far to follow him, for just ahead of us was a shining, glorious gate. The boundary that it marked was as definite as if it were guarding night from day. Even though the beauty of the country through which the lane passed was exquisite, what lay beyond the gate was beyond description, but not recognition. It was Home. Upon seeing it, childhood memories flooded my mind. Every path and byway was familiar to me. The longing to be there once more became an overwhelming ache within me. It caused me to totally forget my reluctance to approach my enemy, who was even now standing at the gatehouse, speaking to the gatekeeper. 

The gatekeeper had his back to me. Still I recognized Him immediately as my Lord and Good Shepherd, He who had carried me throughout much of my journey, ministering to my stubborn wounds. Just as He had promised, He employed no servant here. Still I could see only my enemy's face. There was light shining either from it or on it. I could not tell which. Suddenly I realized his eyes were bright and clear, focused upon the face of the Gatekeeper. He was no longer blind! Then I noted how straight he stood. Eagerly I threw down my crutch and rushed forward. Maybe I too could be made whole! 

Before i could take more than a step or two, I was suddenly aware of the Gatekeeper's words to my lifelong enemy. "There is only one last thing before you are ready to enter in, one last question I must ask."

My enemy! This person who had been responsible for my deepest wounds? He was about to enter in? 

the Gatekeeper continued, breaking through my shock, " Are you a friend to every man?"

Taking his gaze from the Gatekeeper's face, the man looked steadily into my eyes, and I knew he was seeing me, really seeing me, for the first time. Somewhere inside I trembled. I had known all along that I would have to face the Lord to enter in, buy my enemy?

His words pierced my soul. "I am willing to be," he said quietly. Healed and no longer blind, he loved me. Could I , still maimed and crippled as I was, say the same? Could I answer this one last question with an honest yes?

The Gatekeeper seemed to disappear from between us, though I knew He was near. Nothing stood between my enemy and me. He waited for my response with longing meekness in his eyes, unable to enter in without my approbation. And Just as surely, I knew I could not enter in without him. My long-harbored resentment and bitterness, or all that lay beyond this last barrier-which would it be? Which would I choose? Why had I waited so long? How had I thought I could avoid this moment?

My first step toward him was still halting, as if crippled, but with each step my strength grew greater and greater. I could feel my wounds healing as I reached for his hands and then his embrace. 

And as the dream ended, I saw us wrapped in more than each other's acceptance and forgiveness..The Gatekeeper and still another figure stood with us. With shining countenance, the Gatekeeper turned to the other, and speaking my name in unison with ttat of my former adversary, He said, "Father , these are my friends." As I awoke from the dream, the last impression I had was hearing the voice of the Father, so long awaited, "Well done. You may all enter in."

​Dr. Sidney Simon, a recognized authority on values realization, has provided an excellent definition of forgiveness as it applies to human relationships:

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.” 

"Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.

Some hold grudges for a lifetime, unaware that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic. "                          James E Faust    April 2007 General Conference

Forgiveness is not a feeling - you won't feel like it - it is a decision. Say it aloud - first. Feelings take time to catch up with your will.  You still want to hurt them, but you need to start forgiving - pray - God commanded us to forgive, even though it goes against our will. Once we do what God says - we do start to change and you will see it quickly.
Don't shrug off the hurt - minimizing the hurt is not forgiving! You might be reluctant because you are condoning what they did. Trust and Forgiveness are 2 different things. Just because you say you forgive doesn't mean you trust them already. Trustworthiness = giving a person the benefit of the doubt that they aren't or are going to be a certain way in the future, but Forgiveness = is simply setting down the load, never to pick it up again. It doesn't mean you are taking him or her back - you need to have a healthy relationship and you are working on it. You also don't need to wait until someone apologizes first. We are not alleviating responsibility from anyone by forgiving - we are transferring it - to God who has already paid for it.

Romans 12:19 I will repay says the Lord
It doesn't end the matter in God's eyes. We must forgive, but the Lord will forgive differently maybe. Sometimes it takes someone to forgive first then they feel secure to ask for the forgiveness and apologize (happens maybe 20% of the time). Transfer it to God. Forgiving doesn't necessarily mean we will forget. God says that once we are forgiven He will also forget. But that is not true for us - we are not God's and our minds may not be capable of forgetting - we remember our pains and hurt.  Even though it still hurts you can forgive them.

Maybe you are not ready yet - that's okay - Say-the challenge - Lord make me willing to be willing - help me be ready for forgiveness - help me want to.

Forgiveness is Obeying God.
  • Get on with the program - sometimes it doesn't feel good to forgive.
  • Matt 6:15 - if you don't forgive, he will not forgive you of your sins. We can't afford not to forgive people. Man: when I forgive, I feel free. I feel right with God - We will be blessed with peace and comfort as we forgive. Woman: it will take a miracle to forgive my husband - well, our lord is in the business of miracles and changing hearts - he will do it for you.
  • Forgiveness is a process - it can come in layers.
  • Forgiveness is a choice I make - at first it's every hour, then every day, every week, etc. (One day you will wake up and realized I didn't think about my ex yesterday. And you will see the forgiveness take place in your life.) When you aren't constantly thinking about the person or talking about them - you know you have come far.
  • One other thing to remember:  You could be ambushed by false sense that you haven't forgiven even if you have - it will maybe come back - stop at that moment and realize that it has been forgiven and it has been given to the Lord. You are living in a higher realm. 
  • You would like to see a positive response. But, you may not get that. You will want someone to repay the forgiveness and admit they are wrong. But forgiveness is Unilateral- we will not be met halfway. Remember the Lord is still in control and is still the one that person will have to answer to - You did what mattered - hold on to that - that you did what was right. You may not have the ability to restore the relationship the way you want.  I have to choose forgiveness, but reconciliation takes two people and forgiveness takes just one.
  • Forgiveness is maturity - a willingness to take responsibility for your actions and attitudes. Mature adults internalize responsibility for his or her own thoughts and actions.  We don't want out  want children to see us harbor anger for their other parent.  It is not to dismiss the wrongs but so that we can see clearly. Huge walls of self-protection can be up -look inside and see what you can change and how you can be strong and have courage.

How do we do it?
1 Begin by asking God to forgive you through prayer. We confess - admit that we have
been holding the hatred, holding the hurt, holding the grudges, disgust, the resentment,
we have been holding that person in the bondage of unforgiveness. Apologize. Thank
him that he forgives us. That is the blockage that keeps us from healing. We have taken
that which only belongs to God.

2 Get rid of the heavy load of hurt and offenses - Peter 5:7 Cast your burdens on Him who
cares for you. I transfer the ownership to Lord. These sins are heavy to bare - I have
done all that I can - I need to give them to you as your property - take them and lift them
so I can't take them back. He creates changes in people's hearts.

3 Turn him or her over to God give the  ownership of the persom to Him. Even if they
prosper, even if they do well, we know we have given them to the Lord. The Lord will
deliver you. 

Forgiving will liberate you! God's love will flow through you to that person - that real God like love. Children will thrive - they sense your emotions. You will be able to feel joy again. Real forgiveness always brings peace.

  • One last barrier - God's forgiveness of your sins first. Recognize the atonement - utilize it in your life - repent of your sins too. He loved you enough that He sacrificed himself for you.
  • Change - don't do the same sins over and over again. Pray for help. Tell him you need him and that you need help getting to him. Tell him you need him and look for ways to see him in your life. Thank him for taking upon him your sins.
  • There is a quote: Time heals all wounds - wrong - time covers wounds, only God can heal all wounds.
Doctrine and Covenants 64:10
10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

Luke 6:37
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: