Today I read Doctrine and Covenants section 64. Scriptorians will recognize several famous scriptures in this section. The scripture most people think about tithing is found in this section. In the beginning of the section the Lord reaffirms the calling of Joseph Smith and tells the Saints to not find fault with him because of his weaknesses.
The part that stood out to me is also quite well known. In verse 10 the Lord says, "I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." I have been lucky all my life to have a gift to easily forgive others. Even as a child and later a teenager, I literally found it impossible to hold grudges. I can remember multiple instances where my mother or father had made me angry and I went to bed nursing my anger and promising myself retribution and how I would never talk to them again. But when I would wake up the following morning, while I would remember what they had done to upset me, the angry feelings were always entirely gone.
Since I have had this gift all of my life it has been hard for me to understand why others would hold on to grudges and the hurt they feel. Like many other negative emotions, being unwilling to forgive others damns you. It may or may not affect the one who has wronged you to withhold your forgiveness, but it most certainly WILL hurt you and your eternal progression. It is very hard for me to understand the thought process behind most people's unwillingness to forgive or their need for certain criteria to be met.
I, of course, love my wife dearly. She however does not have my gift to forgive quite as easily as I do, but she does forgive a lot easier than most people I have met. We once took on a border to help with expenses and he ruined one of my wife's pots. When I spoke to him about it he denied ruining the pot and it only made my wife more angry. I tried my best to keep the peace telling our border that things like this happen and to not worry about it but my wife was still quite angry. When I spoke to her of forgiving him she replied that in order to forgive him, he had to acknowledge his wrong. I reminded her that acknowleding what we have done wrong is part of the repentance process and is not a prerequisite to being forgiven. The scriptures do not say forgive only those who are contrite or repentant or who seek your forgiveness. No! It says to forgive ALL men.
Thankfully my wife took my advice to heart and forgave our border and she was able to move on, but I have met SO many people who hold her outlook on things. I hear things like, "He needs to acknowledge to me what he has done wrong!". Or, "She didn't apologize to me.", or dozens of other phrases that indicate anger is being held on to inappropriately. Now on the flip side, there are those who have done things that are wrong who will not let go of the guilt, because they will not repent. I am a firm believer that guilt is a feeling to help us know that we have done something wrong so we can repent, but it serves no other purpose. I do not get guilted into doing things by others because I try and live my life in keeping with the gospel. Typically if someone tries to guilt me into doing something it only serves to anger me and cause me to dig my feet in more. I'm pretty stubborn that way.
But when we have done something wrong, it is indeed up to us to try and make restitution for what we have done. It is not a requirement for them to forgive us, but it is part of the repentance process and needs to be followed so that the Lord will forgive us our sins and we can move past the transgression we have committed. Sometimes it is just not possible for us to make restitution or perhaps so much time has passed that we feel we can't be fully forgiven of our sins. But Enos in the Book of Mormon teaches us that through the Atonement our guilt can be swept away. I have a friend. He stopped being active in the church around the time he was 15 years old and he started sinning in diverse ways. 20 years later he was ready to come back to church but was so far behind and had forgotten so much that he decided to take the missionary lessons. He really struggled with letting go of the guilt from all the wrongs he had done in those 20 years of sin. I am happy to say though that he did let go of it and is a fully active member and has been for many years now!
If you struggle with forgiving those who have wronged you, may I suggest you make it a matter of prayer. I seem to suggest that a lot for many diverse things, but the reason for that is because most of these things that we need to correct are things that the Lord can and will help us overcome. The Lord is the one who helps us overcome the natural man and become better than we are. It is through His help that we can change our very nature and learn to forgive more easily, as He does. Until tomorrow.