Earlier this year I found myself questioning whether or not I had truly found forgiveness related to a trial I had gone through in my life many years ago.
I hadn’t really given it much thought until this past year but I knew I needed to know for myself if I had.
It was important for me to understand if what I was feeling was forgiveness or not.
Being vocal about forgiveness was scary for me.
It was approaching the 17 year mark of the shooting at Columbine High School of April 20, 1999.
My social media feed was consistently filled with posts, interviews and opinions from all sorts of people expressing their thoughts on the tragedy that took place at my high school.
It made me step back and desire to know for myself where I stood. If I had forgiven – what did that mean?
Did it mean I was okay with what two individuals chose to do that day? Did it mean I no longer cared?
Did it mean I was no longer affected by it?
As I sat and listened to Elder Duncan’s talk during General Conference last April part of his address truly resonated with me.
“TO FORGIVE IS NOT TO CONDONE.
WE MISTAKENLY THINK THAT IF WE FORGIVE, SOMEHOW JUSTICE WILL NOT BE SERVED AND PUNISHMENTS WILL BE AVOIDED.
HE HAS TAUGHT US THAT WE CAN FORGIVE! EVEN THOUGH WE MAY BE A VICTIM ONCE, WE NEED NOT BE A VICTIM TWICE BY CARRYING THE BURDEN OF HATE, BITTERNESS, PAIN, RESENTMENT, OR EVEN REVENGE. WE CAN FORGIVE, AND WE CAN BE FREE!” — ELDER KEVIN R. DUNCAN
His words spoke to me.
It was then that I knew that I had found forgiveness but doing so did not mean I was condoning the act.
I felt so much weight lifted off of my shoulders.
I indeed felt free from the burden I was carrying with me all those years.
Everyone goes through different hardships in life.
People will come in and out of our life who may hurt our feelings, or cause harm to us or those we love in the form of actions or words.
And there will come a time when each person will need to decide to forgive or not.
I know I have been offended by individuals and it has been hard to let go of those feelings.
I have had experiences where I knew I needed to forgive those who had wronged me.
I could see how my resentment toward others was affecting my emotional and spiritual well being.
“THE SAVIOR’S ATONEMENT IS NOT JUST FOR THOSE WHO NEED TO REPENT; IT IS ALSO FOR THOSE WHO NEED TO FORGIVE. IF YOU ARE HAVING TROUBLE FORGIVING ANOTHER PERSON OR EVEN YOURSELF, ASK GOD TO HELP YOU. FORGIVENESS IS A GLORIOUS, HEALING PRINCIPLE. WE DO NOT NEED TO BE A VICTIM TWICE. WE CAN FORGIVE.”
I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer.
As I have prayed to my Heavenly Father asking for my heart to be softened toward others I have seen the difference it has made in my life and in my relationships.
Our world is a beautiful place with so much good. But these are trying times with a lot of evil and scary things happening. I take heart in the comforting words of Elder Duncan that forgiveness is possible.
“AS VICTIMS, IF WE ARE FAITHFUL, WE CAN TAKE GREAT COMFORT IN KNOWING THAT GOD WILL COMPENSATE US FOR EVERY INJUSTICE WE EXPERIENCE. ELDER JOSEPH B. WIRTHLIN STATED: “THE LORD COMPENSATES THE FAITHFUL FOR EVERY LOSS. … EVERY TEAR TODAY WILL EVENTUALLY BE RETURNED A HUNDREDFOLD WITH TEARS OF REJOICING AND GRATITUDE.”– ELDER KEVIN R. DUNCAN
For me- being able to forgive meant I was able to free myself from feelings of bitterness and hate.
I was able to see the blessing in my life more clearly and I could more easily see the joy that comes after the storm.
I am grateful for the Atonement and the ability to find forgiveness in my life.
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