One of the most baffling and awe-inspiring aspects of the Atonement is how we can be forgiven of our sins and wrong-doings, especially after we mess up again and again. When you look back at how that is possible, the underlying cause is found: love. It is because of Christ’s love for us that He did what He knew He had to do, so that the Atonement would be effective in our lives.
Because of His love for us, He extended His mercy and His example even on the cross. He pleaded on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Isn’t that how you feel about your mistakes sometimes? In the moment, our natural tendencies can take over if we have not learned how to say no or learned of a better way to react to situations. When you examine the not so good things you have done, sometimes you recognize that you made a conscious decision to go that direction. However, sometimes, we get caught up in how others are reacting and don’t even think about what will happen if we also take the same course of action. And then there are the times when our emotions take over, for example, when we allow anger to overpower us and act and say things we later regret. Don’t we also ask our Father to forgive us because we didn’t know what we were doing or thinking?
Heavenly Father’s forgiveness is available to all thanks to Christ’s Atonement. It is liberating when we experience true forgiveness, and it can trigger a greater desire to be better and to change. There is an even greater joy that we can experience when we too forgive others. Wherever we are on our life’s journey, we can always find someone we can forgive. We encounter people that wrong us daily, and most often these individuals don’t wrong us out of malice. Like us, they are caught up in the crowd or let their emotions take over. How we react is important. I am still learning and am by no means an expert in this matter. I would like to use this post to explore with you the commandment we have been given to forgive all men.
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
I invite you to read, study, and ponder the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:23-35). The king is the Lord, the servant that owed the most is each of us, and the servant that owed the least is everyone that offends us. Now, I invite you to do some introspection. In the last twenty-four hours, who do you feel has wronged you and why? Have those wrongs caused you pain, just some minor irritation, or any particular emotions (insert here)? How did you react? How did your view of this particular individual change and why?
Now, here comes the harder part. Did you try to break down the situation to see what could have led to that outcome? Was it something that you might have knowingly or unknowingly triggered? Was it something that this individual might have been pressured to do by someone else or is there no true connection that can be made as to the underlying cause? Are you ready for the hardest part? Pray for them. Pray that the Father can help them with their struggle, that they can find healing and peace, that they can one day experience God’s love and forgiveness and have the desire to change. Maybe they are already trying to be better and just slipped up. You don’t know that, but God does. Let God work with them.
Next, pray for the ability to forgive them for what took place. It is okay to let God know what your frustrations were with that particular incident. You might need to pray only once to achieve the ability to forgive, or you might take days, months, or years depending on the severity of the situation. What counts is that you are making the effort. The Atonement will work in your life, and Christ’s love will be able to come into your heart and lead you to the ability to extend that forgiveness. It can happen. I’ve seen forgiveness for people I thought I could never forgive actually happen. It took a very long time, and when it happened, it was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Feel free to do this exercise as often and as far back into the past as you need.
I would like to now shift gears and focus on the song that was the basis for this post. It is called “O God Forgive Us” by for KING & COUNTRY. Listen to the song here, visit their official website here, and learn about the brothers’ journey here. This song paints a beautiful image of ourselves when we are at a turning point. We are all different in many ways, but we are the same in the fact that we all require God’s mercy and forgiveness in order to move on with our lives and move upward to the next level of discipleship. The part about stretching our arms towards the Savior and contrasting that to crossing our arms to those that are in need is a true reality which we all need more guidance in as we incorporate the Savior’s examples more fully into our lives. As we develop charity, we will be able to avoid those pitfalls and recognize opportunities to serve and make an impact in others’ lives. But if we are too busy dwelling on how others have wronged us and our hearts are filled with too many negative emotions, there won’t be room in our hearts to invite charity and change. I challenge you to make the determination today to do all in your power to get on your knees and cry out to Heavenly Father for help. Ask Him to help you and those you need to forgive. Wave that white flag of surrender and let the Savior into your heart. He will lead you by the hand. Forgiveness and change can and will happen.
The Atonement Series
Jesus Christ: A Man of Sorrows
Jesus Christ in the Garden