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Forgiveness

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Yes, it is true: I have cancer. But before you set up a GoFundMe account for me, let me explain: I just have a little bit of cancer. More specifically, it is a little bit of skin cancer. Everybody’s doing it.

I have this sore on my shoulder that just never seemed to heal. I finally went to the doctor and he said, “Looks like you’ve got a ‘Basal Cell Carcinoma‘ – let’s take a piece of it and see.” He got some tools, dug out a chunk for a biopsy, and sent it off to the lab.

A few days later, I got a phone call from the doctor’s office. A chipper little voice said, “Hi Mr. McBride. We got your lab results back – it is cancer. We want to refer you to a dermatologist to get it taken care of.” The happy tone of her voice was in direct contrast to what I heard.

Ugh. That word “cancer” is a gut punch – even if you are pretty sure that it is not a big deal. I had already researched what a BCC is, and knew that it is the most common form of skin cancer, and the most easily treated. Even so…it is still cancer, and when your dad died of Melanoma… You get the idea.

Met with the dermo. Gonna get it cut out. No big deal.

Unless… I don’t get it cut out – then it can become a bigger deal. So, I am gonna get it done, which is a pretty easy decision.

The word cancer is a powerful word. It is also a bit strange. There is not a verb form of the word cancer. However, there is a similar word that has the same origin that can be used as a verb as well: Canker.

When I was growing up, I was afflicted by canker sores in my mouth and throat. Wicked little things. As I grew I began to realize what an important metaphor cankers and cancers can be for spiritual illness and injury.  Case in point:

A few years back, a buddy of mine decided he wanted to make some money in real estate. He bought a property and then rented it out to a tenant. Being a landlord was not his cup of tea. He was very protective of his property and started to really resent his tenants for the way they treated it.

Eventually it became a fixation, and he would talk about it all of the time in the most negative way. He would get in squabbles with the tenant and the would get angry with each other. It wasn’t a good situation for either party.

One day he asked me what I thought about the situation (looking for support). I told him that he probably didn’t want my opinion. He insisted, so I said, “I feel like this whole landlord thing is cankering your soul.”

He looked shocked. “Man, that’s a little harsh, don’t you think? What do you mean?”

I said, “To me, you seem totally consumed by this. It is all you ever talk about. You seem so unhappy all the time. You look intense and angry all the time. I can’t imagine that it is worth it.”

He was quiet as he chewed on the accusation that I just leveled on him. After a minute he surprised me by saying, “Yeah. I think you are probably right.”

A definition of the verb Canker is “to corrupt; destroy slowly.” (link)

A definition of the noun Cancer is “any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively; blight.” (link)

Both are applicable to spiritual blight.

One of the great scriptural metaphors for faith is Alma’s description of the seed which, if nourished, will eventually grow into a wonderful tree, bearing wonderful fruit. (Alma 32)

What we rarely talk about is how these same principles work for bad seeds as well. If you plant a bad seed, and nourish it, it will eventually grow into a great big weed, and it won’t bring forth anything of worth.

My gardening experience has taught me that it is much easier to grow weeds than it is to grow fruit-bearing trees. Weeds also have a remarkable ability to spread and replicate themselves in a cancerous manner with very little effort on my part.

Finding something to get mad about is not too difficult in today’s world. All you need to do is look around and I guarantee there is something out there that has the potential of setting you off. I know a couple of guys who are not happy with the current political state, and make it a point to tweet the most hateful things. Every. Single. Day. It has gotten so that the vast majority of their social media activity is vitriolic, and it has begun to define who they are online. They didn’t start out that way, but contention has become their hobby,

President Russell M. Nelson addressed this in Conference all the way back in 1989 – and it has definitely gotten much worse since then. He said:

“My concern is that contention is becoming accepted as a way of life. From what we see and hear in the media, the classroom, and the workplace, all are now infected to some degree with contention. How easy it is, yet how wrong it is, to allow habits of contention to pervade matters of spiritual significance, because contention is forbidden by divine decree:

The Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another. (2 Ne. 26:32.)”

As we dread any disease that undermines the health of the body, so should we deplore contention, which is a corroding canker of the spirit.”  (link)

There is that word again – did you catch it? Contention is a corroding canker of the spirit. (One of the great ironies is when people argue about doctrinal issues.)

There is so much contention out there. To many, it is a way of life, to others it is a hobby. I wrestle with it as well. It is so easy to get mad and – even worse-  share it. It is so easy to nourish those seeds of contention until they grow into big, ugly weeds that are hard to manage, and even harder to kill. Contention truly is an “evil condition or thing that spreads destructively”

Back to my cancer: My solution? Gonna get it cut out of my shoulder. That is the best way to prevent it from growing, spreading or doing any permanent disfiguration or lasting damage. I’m lucky that it is still small – it will be much easier to deal with, and much a much simpler (and less painful) procedure.

It is the same when contentious feelings come into our hearts and minds. If we pluck them out and get rid of them quickly, and before they have time to take root, it is a much easier procedure, and they are less likely to cause any permanent spiritual disfigurement or lasting damage.

How do we do it?

#1: Forgive. President James E. Faust said this:

“If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being. Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become “less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,” which leads to greater physical well-being. Another of these studies concludes “that forgiveness … is a liberating gift that people can give to themselves.” (link)

Interesting: Forgiveness heals both soul and body.

Christ taught “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14–15.)

The Lord doubled down on this idea in D&C 64:9-10, when He said, “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (I re-read this passage several times and could not find any exceptions for being angry with people with names like Trump, McCain, etc.)

#2: Own it, then get rid of it. Don’t forget what Elder Lynn G. Robbins taught about anger: “Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose!” (link)

“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Ne. 11:29–30). How to get rid of it?

#3: Ask the Lord to soften our hearts and grant us charity.  Nephi found success through prayer: “I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart” (1 Nephi 2:16)

And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”  (Moroni 7:45)

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren (sisters too!), pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love…” (Moroni 7:48)

#4 Check our focus. “What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say: “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.” President Gordon B. Hinckley. (Link)

I am planning on getting my cancer removed in the next couple of weeks. Now as for the things growing in my heart that need removed, that can happen today, if I am willing to do it.

Years ago I discussed some ideas that tie in with this post. You might want to check it out if you are new to MMM. “The Tarzan Principle.

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Occasionally, I will have to spend careful time choosing the subject of my Sunday post. This is not one of those times. In fact, the subject of this post was “suggested” to me from no less than four different sources – three within mere minutes of each other. I’ve learned that it is not wise to ignore such shoves…er…promptings.

Bellet lift

1) Friday night I took my EC to the ballet for her birthday. Romeo & Juliet, the story of a pair of star-crossed morons. While not a regular ballet attendee, I did appreciate the beauty and the extreme amount of strength, grace, beauty and skill presented. (The music, sets, costuming and lighting were remarkable, too.)

During one of the scenes where Romeo and Juliet were dancing around together, there was a series of lifts that would make Patrick Swayze hide in the corner. Romeo would pick up Juliet and spin her around in the air as if she were weightless. My interior dialogue went something like this:

“Man, that dude is strong.”

“Yeah, but she probably weighs like 80lbs.”

“True. Do you think his tights are tight enough?”

“Seriously.”

*Snort*

Then…

“I can’t imagine how much trust she must have in him to let him to do those lifts.”

Within seconds of making that observation – seconds – there was a stumble, a bobble, and then a graceful recovery. I’ll bet some people didn’t even notice. I was stunned because of the timing, but it reinforced my point. She almost came crashing down from high above her partner’s head. This reminded me that…

2) Earlier that day I saw a video clip of a UCLA cheerleader named Sophie take a scary fall off the top of a pyramid o’ cheerleaders during a time out.

Cheerleader fall

One of the trainers immediately picked her up and rushed her off the court to have her checked out. To add insult to injury, the trainer tripped over a duffle bag and proceeded to full-out body slam the poor girl into the floor. (I’ll drop the video in at the bottom of the post.)

Body Slam

Fortunately, Sophie was fine, and returned to the game.

3) During the first intermission at the ballet – yes there were two – I was checking my social media and saw a post on Facebook from a friend that said this:

“You know that feeling you get when you think you’ve done something really awesome for someone, and it turns out that it’s actually 100 times worse than terribly wrong?”

Uh-oh. Somebody messed up. (I would tell you who it was, but some of you might be friends with Nick Newman, so I’ll keep it our secret.)

It turns out that this friend was being a super-great husband and getting the broken glass on his wife’s phone repaired. Little did he know that the thousands of photos on the phone would be lost forever when he told the repairman to go ahead and wipe the phone before he repaired it. (Yes, you may gasp.)

Body slam.

I’m sure the trainer and the ballet dude were doing their best to be careful. Thankfully, in both cases the girls shook it off and were willing to continue. Can you imagine if the ballerina stomped off the stage because she felt she could no longer trust her partner?

The thought also crossed my mind that the ballerina had probably been dropped by ballet dudes countless times in her life – yet here she was – trusting her physical well-being and her career to some guy in tights.

I’ve been married over thirty years now, and one thing I have learned is that marriage is a constant parade of stumbles. bobbles, drops and the occasional (metaphorical) body slam. Which leads me to….

4) During the second intermission, I checked my Twitter feed and saw a quote by Elder Lynn G. Robbins making the rounds:

“A happy and successful marriage depends on two good forgivers.” 

This is true. That simple sentence carries more weight than all the marriage self-help books ever written.

Add to it this: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh” (Matt. 19:5–6.) It is far more difficult to be of one heart and mind than to be physically one. This unity of heart and mind is manifest in sincere expressions of “I appreciate you” and “I am proud of you.” Such domestic harmony results from forgiving and forgetting, essential elements of a maturing marriage relationship.” (President James E. Faust)

What we often forget is that a happy, healthy marriage is not merely an affair of the heart, it takes more that that. I’ll let Elder Robbins explain it:

“Too many believe that love is a condition, a feeling that involves 100 percent of the heart, something that happens to you. They disassociate love from the mind and, therefore, from agency. In commanding us to love, the Lord refers to something much deeper than romance—a love that is the most profound form of loyalty. He is teaching us that love is something more than feelings of the heart; it is also a covenant we keep with soul and mind.” (link)

Love is a choice.It is not a mystical thing that comes at us from the outside. If not, the principle of agency would be rendered worthless. We choose to love, just as we choose to hate. With love comes that mandatory and inevitable parade of stumbles. bobbles, drops and the occasional body slam.

Forgiveness is also a choice. A choice that enlightens, restore, purifies and binds.

Lack of forgiveness is a choice as well. A damning choice – not just for our relationships, but for our eternal outlook.

Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:9-10)

I have learned through successes and failures that the best things that I can do to maintain the wonderful relationship I share with my EC are,

  1. Repent fast.
  2. Apologize first.

Why? Because having my EC upset at me, or me being upset at her for even an hour is far too long. Because I am utterly incapable of walking through this life without messing something up. I am happy to say that I have never erased my wife’s phone, but I have had plenty of my own “body slam” moments.  (I am also happy to report that my friend did not have to sleep on the couch – thankfully his wife understands these truths.)

I love President Hinckley’s way of making the profound sound so simple:

“The cure for most marital troubles does not lie in divorce. It lies in repentance and forgiveness, in expressions of kindness and concern. It is to be found in application of the Golden Rule.” (link)

Tuesday is Valentines Day. Can you think of a better gift that you can give your sweetheart than forgiveness? Complete, voluntary, purifying, healing forgiveness?

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PS: Nick gave me permission to tell his story and reveal his identity.

Extra Stuff:
“It’s Quiet Uptown.” Hamilton fans know this song well. It takes place when Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza are struggling with the aftermath of their son’s death, and Alexander’s part in it.

Also, the video of that tough little cheerleader.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo one has ever tried to kill me. At least not that I am aware of. I have not been beaten, abused, or raped. No one has firebombed my house or business. None of my family members have been killed or abused. No one has ruined me financially. Nobody has dragged my name through the mud and publicly humiliated me. I have not been the recipient of such evil.

But I know that there are some of you reading this right now who have been.

Over the past few weeks we have been studying the Atonement in Sunday School, and as it usually does, it has given me much time for reflection. Last night, as I was preparing, a very specific thought came to me:

“What is the absolute worst thing anyone has ever done to me?”

I ask you the same question. For me, I honestly can’t think of too many terrible things that have been done to me in my life. Lots of small things, many petty things, but nothing of the order I described above.

As to what I have received, it would seem that I have been greatly blessed and protected. My trials have been more of a “Death by a thousand paper cuts” variety.

On the other side of the coin, I have never tried to kill anyone, or any of the other things I mentioned. My sins, like the offenses I’ve received, are also more of the “Death by a thousand papercuts variety.”

Thankfully, I know that Christ has already paid for my sins. Every little or giant sin of omission, and every small or large sin of commission. Every small thought-sin, every large thought sin. Any sin I have committed has already been atoned for. Christ paid the price for them long ago.

But what about the people that have sinned against you, or me? As I mentioned, I have not been on the receiving end of any horrific sin or affront., but I know many that have been.

What about those sins and those sinners? What becomes of them?

Christ paid for those sins too. Already. Whether the sinner cares or not. Whether the sinner even knows or not, the price has been paid. Justice’s demands have been met. Already. That part is over.

So the terms have already been set between the sinner and the Savior. Where do I, the victim, fit into this?

I don’t.

Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

Doctrine & Covenants 64:9-10

A simple concept, but difficult to absorb, and even more difficult to embrace:

If I refuse to forgive another, I have no claim on the Atonement. Beyond that, I deny another the very mercy, the very Atonement that I am counting on.

Why? Because I am not involved in another man’s claim on the Atonement. It is between the sinner and the Savior. For all I know, they have already come to terms regarding the offense.

But by not being able/willing to forgive those who offend me, I am releasing my claim on what the Atonement can do for me.

The Atonement is wasted on me.

You might remember that I have discussed this concept before, using Tarzan as my example of how an unforgiving heart can damn us. I think the topic deserves frequent visits.

Yesterday, I spend part of my evening watching YouTube videos of people who have had horrific things happen to them, murders, accidental kills, etc. who found within their hearts to forgive.  Here are a two:

Perhaps the best story in recent years comes was related by President James E’ Faust in General Conference. He told the story of a group of Amish Schoolgirls who were gunned down by a mass-murderer. Here is the story as he told it: (Link to the full talk HERE)

How petty are my grievances! How tiny the offenses I stew about. How insulting to the Savior is my hesitancy to forgive, to render His magnificent gift to me as wasted.

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Knife in Back

It is inevitable: Some person is going to say something rude, condescending, judgmental, or mean to you. Maybe even today. People can be cruel and thoughtless. Feelings get hurt. If you don’t believe me, hang out on Social Media for a bit – you will read how people have had terrible things said and done to them. You will also find articles and comments about how mean and judgmental people can be. It is all around us on a regular basis.

How do we react when these things come our way? I decided to help. I have taken it upon myself to make a flow chart we can follow when taking offense for something someone says, or does.

All we have to do is start at the top of the chart, and choose our responses. Easy-peasy!

In addition, for your reading pleasure, I have numbered the different steps, and included supporting documentation from prophets and scriptures to back up each step. (You can click on the chart to make it bigger and easier to read.)

Good luck!

Final Flow Chart

 Here is some supporting documentation – there is much more…

*1 Choose to Be Offended

“When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not acondition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.

In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.

“You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended.”

Elder David A. Bednar “And Nothing Shall Offend Them

 

“The Lord said, “Thou mayest choose for thyself.”

I promise you, as you choose not to be offended or ashamed, you will feel His love and approval. You will know that you are becoming more like Him.”

Elder Neil A. Anderson “Never Leave Him.”

 

“It is reported that President Brigham Young once said that, ‘He who takes offense when no offense was intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense was intended is usually a fool.’

It was then explained that there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system. If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.

Elder Marion D. Hanks, “Forgiveness: The Ultimate Form of Love.”

*2 Become Angry

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” (3 Nephi 11: 29-30)

“Anger is a yielding to Satan’s influence by surrendering our self-control. It is the thought-sin that leads to hostile feelings or behavior. It is the detonator of road rage on the freeway, flare-ups in the sports arena, and domestic violence in homes.

Understanding the connection between agency and anger is the first step in eliminating it from our lives. We can choose not to become angry. And we can make that choice today, right now: “I will never become angry again.” Ponder this resolution.”

Elder Lynn G. Robbins, “Agency & Anger.”

 

*3 Retaliate

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheekturn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

“The Prophet Joseph Smith demonstrated this courage throughout his life. Though he “suffer[ed] severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious” he did not retaliate or give in to hatred. Like all true disciples of Christ, he stood with the Savior by loving others in a tolerant and compassionate way. That is Christian courage.

When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage.”

Elder Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship.”

 

“Whether accusations, innuendos, aspersions, or falsehoods are whispered or blatantly shouted, the gospel of Jesus Christ reminds us that we are not to retaliate nor contend. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “Pure Religion.”

 

*4 Pass Judgement on the Offender (Becoming the Offender)

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (3 Nephi 14:1-5)

 

“The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said that those who pass judgment on others are “inexcusable.” The moment we judge someone else, he explained, we condemn ourselves, for none is without sin.”

“This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!

It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy.”

*5 Complain About the Offense to Others

“Gossip is the worst form of judging. The tongue is the most dangerous, destructive, and deadly weapon available to man. A vicious tongue can ruin the reputation and even the future of the one attacked. Insidious attacks against one’s reputation, loathsome innuendoes, half-lies about an individual are as deadly as those insect parasites that kill the heart and life of a mighty oak. They are so stealthy and cowardly that one cannot guard against them. As someone has said, “It is easier to dodge an elephant than a microbe.”

President N. Eldon Tanner, “Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged.”

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go andtell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (Matthew 18:15)

“A little tendency to gossip can lead not only to bearing serious false witness, but more often to malicious whispers which, unfortunately, “memory will warehouse as a shout.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Settle This in Your Hearts.”

*6 Refuse to Forgive

“I the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10)

“Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.”  President Deiter F. Uchtdorf, “The Merciful Obtain Mercy.”

“I submit that it takes neither strength nor intelligence to brood in anger over wrongs suffered, to go through life with a spirit of vindictiveness, to dissipate one’s abilities in planning retribution. There is no peace in the nursing of a grudge. There is no happiness in living for the day when you can “get even.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Of You It is Required to Forgive.”

 

*7 Be Held Accountable Before God

“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.” (D&C 64:9)

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14–15.)

*8 Enjoy the Peace of a Personal Victory

“If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being. Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become “less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,” which leads to greater physical well-being. Another of these studies concludes “that forgiveness … is a liberating gift that people can give to themselves.” 

“The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through His Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite, or revenge. For all of us who forgive “those who trespass against us,” even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort.”

President James E. Faust, “The Healing Power of Forgiveness.”

“There is no peace in reflecting on the pain of old wounds. There is peace only in repentance and forgiveness. This is the sweet peace of the Christ, who said, “blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. 5:9.)

President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Of You it is Required to Forgive.”

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When is the last time you saw people marching in the streets demanding forgiveness? Ever? It rarely seems to be the topic of discussion, but it is worth discussing.

Why? Because forgiveness is huge, and life-altering. As is the lack of forgiveness. To help make this point, I would like to introduce you to Tarzan, and the Tarzan Principle. (Just go with it. I promise you won’t regret it.)

Tarzan-single

As you know, Tarzan lives in the jungle. His preferred mode of transportation is swinging through the trees. It is fast, efficient and exhilarating. He fluidly swings from vine to vine, never touching the ground.

Upon closer examination, you can see that as Tarzan reaches out and grabs the next vine, he releases the vine he had been riding on. This allows him to move forward, constantly grasping new vines to continue his journey.

Tarzan-success

Now, imagine what would happen if Tarzan grabbed the next vine, but refused to let go of the old vine. Exactly. He would stop dead – suspended in the air between two vines.

Tarzan-unsuccessFor Tarzan to ever be able to regain his momentum, he would eventually have to choose which vine to release.

Everyone of us finds ourself reaching towards the Savior, towards the Atonement – reaching and searching for forgiveness. It is inevitable. It is part of the plan.

Reaching Savior

However, like Tarzan, if we are trying to grasp the Atonement, and refuse to let go of the things we are hanging on to, we stop dead. We lose all spiritual momentum. We are “damned.”

The Lord said it better, and he didn’t even need to use Tarzan:

“Wherefore I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another;
for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.”

The greater sin?

You are telling me that my refusal to let go of the things that have been done to me – the pains that I have had to endure – will cause me to lose the Lord’s forgiveness and the power of the Atonement? Yes. Exactly. You get it.

But what if the person that wronged me isn’t repentant – what if they aren’t even sorry they did it? Doesn’t matter.

But what will happen to them? Still doesn’t matter. We are talking about us.

If we are unwilling to forgive – unwilling to let go – we are condemned, and have denied the core principles of the very Atonement we reach for. Seems a bit hypocritical doesn’t it – to try to get something for ourselves that we deny others?

I have witnessed the toxic nature of an unforgiving heart. I have seen an unwillingness to forgive prevent couples and families from moving forward and regaining their spiritual momentum.

Stalled. Damned.

I have witnessed people who cling to the old vines of anger, accusation and resentment until they are so cankered that they no longer reach for the Savior. Spiritually stuck between two vines. One offers hope and joy, the other condemnation and bitterness.

Personally, at times I have carried grudges far longer than I should, and I have felt those burdens immediately lift and drift away as I decide to release them. Immediately.

I have also seen those who labor to forgive find great peace and happiness as they free themselves from burdens they have been carrying for 10, 20 years, or 10 to 20 minutes. Forgiveness offers hope, peace and spiritual momentum.

Think of your grudges, resentments, hurt feelings, pain. Can you let them go? Can you move forward? For the sake of your happiness, and the happiness of your family, find a way to forgive. It is the only way.

 

And it is worth it.

MMM logo small

The main idea in the post can be a fun way to teach a specific principle of the gospel. It works well in an home or classroom setting, and coupled with the story in the following talk by James E. Faust, makes for an effective lesson. Read on…

The first is an aricle in the Deseret News about stories of forgiveness. The second is a Conference talk by President James E. Faust, who I love and miss.

Desert News article

James E. Faust

Note: This blog was originally posted on 9/18/2011, but is as applicable as ever.