Thursday, April 5, 2012

Forgiving Ourselves

Today I read Genesis 50 the last chapter in the book of Genesis. This chapter, if nothing else, serves to highlight what was lost from the Bible over the centuries. This has one of the longest JST corrections in the Bible, and it is a prophecy by Joseph about Moses, Aaron, the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. Now, opponents of Joseph Smith would of course state that he added this so called prophecy in himself to validate the Book of Mormon and his own status as a prophet. To those people I say they did not know Joseph Smith at all. How could they think he would be so arrogant as to completely change a part of the Bible to validate his role as a prophet? Nevertheless, I am sure that there are some who do in fact that believe that Joseph Smith was in fact that arrogant.

Despite the great example this chapter serves to show what was lost and what Joseph Smith gave back to us, this chapter also reveals to us Joseph's brother's thought process. Joseph's brothers started worrying how Joseph was going to treat them now that their father was dead. Such a worry tells me that they had not forgiven themselves for they way they treated Joseph. I mean they had lived with Joseph in Egypt with their father for 17 years at this point! How could they not know their brother at all? I don't understand how you can be around a person, even sparingly, for 17 years and not understand them. The difference I believe is that the brethren of Joseph had never forgiven themselves for what they did.

We are our own worst critics. We judge ourselves the harshest, and we continue to beat ourselves up long after others have forgotten about the incident that is so fresh in our minds. We can hold a grudge against ourselves like nobodies business and we are always the last person to forgive ourselves. I suspect that Joseph's brothers felt guilty being around him or even seeing him those 17 years. As such I suspect they avoided him whenever they could. I'm sure they believed him when he told them that all was forgiven, but deep down inside they could not forgive themselves.

I remember hearing a talk once from my stake president down here in Alabama. He talked about a growing trend he was seeing among the Saints that felt that despite having a testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, they still felt that they could never be forgiven for what they had done. In a sense, they did not have a true understanding, or testimony, of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father has made it perfectly clear that there are only 2 things that cannot be forgiven in full. Denying the Holy Ghost and the shedding of innocent blood. Every other sin with proper repentance can be forgiven. I'm not sure how it works, but it is my understanding that you can actually be forgiven for shedding innocent blood too, to a degree. That I have decided I will wait until I can ask Him face to face how it works because I don't plan on doing it so I don't need to worry about it. But everything else under the sun that we can possibly do, can be forgiven. So if God and Jesus Christ will forgive us, shouldn't we forgive ourselves? According to my Stake President, and I agree with him, if we don't we make a mockery of the Atonement.

It can be hard and we may even need the assistance of a loving bishop or even a third party counselor, but we need to forgive ourselves of our trespasses. It is just as important as forgiving others, perhaps even more important in all honesty. It will literally damn us and halt our progression until we do, and no one wants that. Plus, as I just stated above, it mocks the Savior's suffering for us. No devout Christian wants that I know. It can be hard, but with the help of the Savior, all things are possible and it can be done. And it feel so much better to get the guilt off of your shoulders. Until tomorrow.

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