Yesterday, I shared part of my talk that I gave in my church. Today’s post is the second half. I hope that it gives you some food for thought. I hope that you feel deep in your heart that when you do your best, Jesus Christ makes up the difference. We can all change. We can all grow. We can all learn to love without judging.
“As we know, this life is a time for us to prepare to meet God. And lucky for us, He gives us lots and lots of chances. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf tells a story about how every time a plane flies there is what’s called a “point of safe return”. It means that up to that point, the plane has enough fuel to safely return to the airport. He says “Having passed the point of safe return, the captain has lost this option and has to continue on. That is why this point is often referred to as the point of no return…Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a ‘point of no return’- that it is too late to change our course. But he continues, “There is always a point of safe return; there is always hope. You are the captain of your life, and God has prepared a plan to bring you safely back to Him, to your divine destination.”
As a youth I attended a stake activity where we were able to play all sorts of carnival and gospel centered games. After playing a handful of games, one of my YW leaders tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could help her with something in the hall. So off we went. As soon as we were in the hall, she gently told me that I was playing the game of life and that I had just died. Wait what?! She took me to a room where I was “judged” by my bishop. He asked to see my tickets, now tickets were given for playing the gospel games, and candy was given for playing the carnival games. After he counted, I was literally one ticket short to go to the celestial kingdom. I couldn’t believe it. If I had just “died” two minutes later I would have had enough tickets. I asked if he could make an exception, but he said no. So I was escorted by some lovely helper angels to my kingdom. After waiting there for what seemed an eternity, we were all allowed to go to the celestial kingdom and learn about choices.
This day really impacted me. I think it really made me think about trying my best. I think it also made me a bit paranoid because it was missing the most crucial part of this journey in life. When we go before our Father in Heaven, we don’t stand alone to be judged. Our Savior stands beside us. And if we have given our best efforts, repented to the best of our mortal ability, he supplies the extra tickets.
Because he has already paid the price for us to enter the Celestial Kingdom. It is now up to us to do our part. So learning how to forgive becomes even more essential. Because at least for me, it is a life-time curriculum to learn how to forgive. That’s why I plan on living to 100. It will definitely take me that long.
Sometimes, when we are hurt deeply, it takes a very long time for healing to come. Even if we are diligent in our desire and are trying to work at it daily. But we need to keep at it. And trust Elder Echo Hawk’s counsel that peace will come. Sometimes the person we are having a hard time forgiving is ourselves. I went through a time in my life where I rarely prayed. I thought Heavenly Father was so disappointed in me that he wouldn’t want to hear from me. I felt like I was failing at being a wife, mother, church goer, friend and everything. Oh how wrong that thinking was! Heavenly Father is the ultimate example in patience. He waits for us. He hopes for us. He loves us.
Elder Uchtdorf said, “Satan will try to make us believe that our sins are not forgiven because we can remember them. Satan is a liar; he tries to blur our vision and lead us away from the path of repentance and forgiveness. God did not promise that we would not remember our sins. Remembering will help us avoid making the same mistakes again.”
In the scriptures, Peter asks the Savior if seven times is a good number as to how many times he should forgive someone. But the Savior said, “I say not unto thee, until seven times, but until seven times seventy.” And about this scripture, Elder Robbins said, “Obviously, the Savior was not establishing an upper limit of 490. That would be analogous to saying that partaking of the sacrament has a limit of 490, and then on the 491st time, a heavenly auditor intercedes and says, ‘I’m sorry, but your repentance card just expired-from this point forward, you’re on your own.”
The Savior will forgive us as many times as we repent with real intent. Repentance is “a change of mind and heart that brings a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general.”
So with a desire to change, or to forgive or to ask forgiveness of God or man, we must show effort by working on improving. My sweet nine-year-old, Taylor, gave me some advice to share today. He said a while back he didn’t know how to repent. So he asked his dad. His Dad told him it was important to pray to Heavenly Father to ask forgiveness. And now he knows that if he ever makes a mistake-and he will-because we all do- that His Heavenly Father is ready to listen and forgive.
I would also like to share some helpful advice from Preach My Gospel. It is under the developing Christ-like attributes section in Chapter 6. And this applies to developing forgiveness.
There are 8 helpful steps.
- Identify the attribute you wish to develop. So for today, it’s forgiveness.
- Write a definition and description of the attribute. In the guide to scriptures, it tells us that Forgive can mean:
- When God forgives men, He cancels or sets side a required punishment for sin. Through the Atonement of Christ, forgiveness of sins is available to all who repent, except those guilty of murder or the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost.
- As people forgive each other, they treat one another with Christlike love and have no bad feelings toward those who have offended them.
- Record questions to answer as you study. For example, What are some examples of forgiveness, How did the person who forgave feel, How did the person forgiven feel, How can I forgive?
- List and study thoroughly passages of scripture that teach about the attribute. Such as when Nephi “frankly forgave” his brothers; or when Christ asked the woman in John 8, ‘where are thine accuser’s? Hath no man condemned thee? Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.’
- Record your feelings and impressions. This helps us to make a deeper connection so that we can truly forgive. And I believe that it helps us to heal as we acknowledge our feelings. Relating our situations in life now to those who lived long ago can give us strength to keep trying.
- Set Goals and make plans to apply the attribute in your life. I believe we don’t make much progress toward a goal unless it’s written down with steps. There is a book I once read where the author made a suggestion that has really helped me. He said to make a list of daily goals in order of importance the night before or first thing in the morning. But you needed to draw a line after the first three. He encouraged to get those first 3 done by noon. Then the rest of the day you would feel so happy if you got anything extra done. So maybe your three goals for the morning could be to pray for strength to forgive, to search up one scripture about forgiving, and to say I love you to one person. Simple goals are best.
- Pray to the Lord to help you develop the attribute. As we pray for help, I know that we can be given strength from angels unseen as we try to do our best in forgiving and loving our self and others.
- Evaluate your progress periodically in developing the attribute. Sometimes we might not have made much progress, and other times, we might surprise ourselves when we realize we have finally forgiven-meaning we have no more bad feelings toward them; or felt the forgiveness of our Savior and Heavenly Father.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “the essence of the miracle of forgiveness is that it brings peace to the previously anxious, restless, frustrated, perhaps tormented soul…God will wipe away…the tears of anguish, and remorse,…and fear and guilt.” This peace he speaks of is an amazing gift that we can receive from our Heavenly Father.
Elder Uchtdorf said about forgiveness, “There is a great need for this Christ-like attribute in our families, in our marriages, in our wards and stakes, in our communities, and in our nations.” Clearly this is an attribute worth working on. We are all at different places in our journey back to Heavenly Father. So as we interact with others, remembering to be patient and forgiving, remember no one is perfect, is essential to having harmony in our homes, at church, and in our community.
Now I know there are some truly awful things we can go through, and forgiveness can seem impossible. I have a friend who was abused by a sibling for many years. And it took many, many years to be able to forgive. And when she was preparing to get married and told her soon to be husband, he remembers feeling like he wanted to punch that sibling. But Elder Uchtdorf also reminds us, “that extending forgiveness is a precondition to receiving forgiveness.” So today, this friend and her husband can look at this sibling through the eyes of Christ because of the miracle of forgiveness.
I know that as the scripture says in Phil. 4:13, we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. So as we muster the desire to forgive, and make a plan/set goals, we are blessed.
I believe that as we each work on forgiving and loving our self and one another, we can change this world for the better. We as parents can show our children by our example. They need to know that they are forgiven. They need to know that we don’t expect them to be perfect. They need to know that they have a loving Father in Heaven and a Savior who love them.
If’s it been awhile since you’ve thought about forgiving an old hurt. I pray that you will take some time today to pray and study about forgiving.
Studying this topic has greatly helped me. It is an attribute I hope to be better at soon.
Life is Good. Share the Good.