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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Forgiving Others » Forgiving Others

Forgiving Others

Lamonte - December 26, 2007

Now that Christmas has passed and we look forward to the new year, I am going through my usual list of personal deficiencies to try to establish my New Year’s resolutions for the coming year.  The scripture I’ve attached below is the best way I can describe my biggest challenge in life. 

 

Ye have heard that it hath been said; Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?
  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?
  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5: 43-48

 
And maybe it’s my personal interpretation of that scripture.  For me this scripture does not simply say “Love your enemies” – a difficult enough challenge by itself – but, more importantly, it says “forgive those who have offended you.”  At the end of the scripture the Lord commands us to “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  I believe that he is saying if we can conquer this one aspect in our lives we will be closer to perfection, perhaps closer than conquering any other aspect.

 

Almost twenty years ago I moved with my family to the east coast.  We left the “safe confines” of the Salt Lake Valley, where we had lived for the previous 11 years and we left most of our family just 100 miles north in southern Idaho where my wife and I had grown up.  Just after we arrived here in the east I remember a lesson in Elder’s Quorum class where we discussed the fast pace life that surrounded us and many of us, myself included, reminisced about the simpler times when we were first married and living elsewhere.  After several of these like-minded comments, and immediately following my comment, one of the class members who was a convert and who grew up in Baltimore said something like, “All you guys who miss your small Mormon towns should go back there if you miss it so much.  I’m a city slicker and I like it here.”  I was incensed by what he said.  I felt personally attacked and offended.  I really disliked (I won’t say hated) that fellow for several weeks.  Then we started a family Christmas tradition where we would select a family who we would serve as Secret Santa during the 12 days prior to Christmas.  We would leave small gifts or baked goods at their door each night and then on Christmas Eve we would leave a larger gift basket.  All this was done in anonymity.  I remembered hearing someone once say that if you didn’t like someone you should do something nice for them.  So we chose (I chose) this man’s family for the Secret Santa. 

 

Now I’m not going to claim that it was that effort that changed my perspective but I will tell you that the man in question is one of my best friends in the church today.  Oh yes, he’s still opinionated and less than sensitive in his conversation but I have grown to love and appreciate his honesty.

 

But the fact is forgiving others is still my biggest challenge in life.  Yesterday (Christmas Day) I spoke to one of my sons who, along with his wife and children, is visiting his grandparents and other extended family in the West for the holidays.  I asked him how the trip was going and he said he’s been able to relax and enjoy it.  He identified one reason for the laid back atmosphere was that the internet is not readily available to him there. The relatives have it but it doesn’t sit in the living room like it does at his house (and mine).  I acknowledged that the internet and blogging can be the source of much contention in our lives and I have wondered whether I do too much of it.  I passionately dislike contention in my life but I’m afraid that I am the source of much of the contention that I experience.  Should I give up blogging?  Should I give up my interest in politics?  How can I learn to better forgive others and follow the Lord’s commandments?

 

I have counseled with my sons in the past telling them that if they find themselves being easily offended they should stop and consider their relationship with Jesus Christ – having a strong personal relationship with the Lord usually means that you won’t be easily offended – in my opinion.  I know I should listen to my own advice.

 

How do you deal with this issue in your life?  Have you conquered the need to hold a grudge? 

13 Comments »

  1. [...] Forgiving Others … my New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. The scripture I’ve attached below is the best way I can describe my biggest challenge in life. Ye have heard that it hath been said; Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. … credit : http://www.nine-moons.com/2007/12/26/forgiving-others/ [...]

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  2. [...] Forgiving Others … my New Year’s resolutions for the coming year. The scripture I’ve attached below is the best way I can describe my biggest challenge in life. Ye have heard that it hath been said; Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. … credit : http://www.nine-moons.com/2007/12/26/forgiving-others/ [...]

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  3. My problem is similar to but not the same as the one you write about. Forgiving others has never been difficult for me simply because I was born a very forgiving person and am utterly unable to hold a grudge. I just remember Redelfs Law:

    “One out of every twenty people is a jerk.”

    Then I remember what an obnoxious jerk I have been most of my life, and it is easy for me to forgive. But my problem is charity. I am not a particularly charitable person. I do not automatically think well of others as some whom I admire do. And in the light of what the scriptures and prophets have said on charity, my problem is one I must overcome somehow if I am going obtain the reward I want in the next life. Sometimes I get very discouraged that I will ever make it. I only have a few years left.

    Comment by John W. Redelfs — December 27, 2007 @ 6:15 am

  4. I hear you on the blogging thing. Sometimes I feel I neglect things that are more important, but then I remember that my well-being (writing, discussing, venting, etc.) counts on it.

    Forgiveness is a hard one for me, too. My FIL drives me absolutely crazy. I know his own children have a really hard time forgiving him of the things he did/does. And the problem isn’t that we aren’t forgiving and loving people in general, we are just constantly bombarded by the same offenses over and over and over and over. Some say we should just cut him out of our lives completely and move on. But that’s just not an option (see comment about being loving people). So, I’m working on the forgiveness thing. It’s probably something I’ll (and my husband and in-laws) will have to work on for the rest of our lives…

    Oh, and fwiw, I miss Southeastern Idaho, too. Sometimes a lot. Especially around fair time… ;)

    Comment by Cheryl — December 27, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  5. Cheryl – Which thriving metropolis in Idaho did you grow up in? My home town is Malad City, just north of the Utah border along I-15.

    Comment by Lamonte — December 27, 2007 @ 11:22 am

  6. Blackfoot! “Free Taters for Out-of-Staters!” :)

    Comment by Cheryl — December 27, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

  7. I think learning how to forgive is one of the most important things we can do in life, if our goal is to become as HF. (Think about some of the things He’s able to forgive.)

    I’m by nature a very forgiving person, and I tend to not be judgmental at all. It’s a trait I don’t particularly feel proud of or anything—it’s just my nature. My parents are the same way. Unconditionally accepting of people.

    But if you want a tip for not letting little things other people do aggravate you, here’s one: Give them an excuse for their behavior. That guy who cut you off on the freeway? He didn’t see you. That person who didn’t use their blinker (a particular pet peeve of mine)? Their blinkers aren’t working. Etc.

    I guess it can work on the bigger things, too. That person who offended you probably either 1) Didn’t realize they were doing so, 2) Would probably be mortified if they knew they had, or if 1 & 2 don’t apply, 3) Are acting out of their own hurt and anger.

    Comment by Susan M — December 28, 2007 @ 11:58 am

  8. We have a really awful neighbor who has alienated most of the people in the ward, let alone the neighborhood. There are maybe nine families in a little circle around our cul-de-sac and I would bet all women avoid her and I seldom see her children playing with other children.

    She’s active, but just angry and mean and always causing trouble.

    I made them an extra big plate of treats for Christmas. Bill said, “why are you doing that? It won’t change anything!” And I said, “I’m not doing it for her.” When he took it over, she acted like her usual ungracious self, taking the platter with a gesture that said, “what the hell took you so long and go away, you bother me.”

    I don’t care. I did not want her kids to think nobody likes them.

    In a wonderful little AA prayer book (in AA, we are counseled to pray for people we are fighting with, and I do, although sometimes it’s not a very nice prayer, let me tell you.), there is this prayer:

    God, free me from resentment
    Toward _____________________
    Please bless ___________________in whatever it is that You know
    They may be needing this day.
    Please give _______________________________everything I want for myself.
    And may ___________________________________’s life be
    full of health, peace,
    Prosperity and happiness as they seek to have
    A closer relationship with thee.

    It actually works, although I’m still praying angry for this woman.

    Comment by annegb — December 28, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  9. Your story made me laugh because it sounds like he offended you the exact same way you offended him: by expressing the nostalgia for Malad, you were dissing his territory. He said it right back. I am glad you got over it, no matter how long it took–most people don’t bother.

    I would say that I was also born with a forgiving nature, but the example of my forgiving family sure helped! I think Susan”s advice to give them an excuse is great–there is always another side to the story.

    Comment by a spectator — December 28, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

  10. I did not really struggle with this when I was younger as much as I have in recent years. One of the things that helps me is to think of how when I am hurt that the bitterness makes me appreciate how sweet it is when someone is nice to me. I also try to use it in a way to actively try to avoid making others feel hurt as I have been hurt. I also use a technique that I think has been mentioned as I recall how I have hurt others and often in a way that they have hurt me. Something that has been humbling for me is to realize how much some of the people who offended me(maybe not intentional) were going through during the time. One person who offended me by brushing me off and also drawing attention to my tendency to be too open off the bat, later said something simple and nice and that was the last time we exchanged emails. I like to end on a good note. I knew from comments he made on a forum that he was going through some big changes. I had no idea the turmoil that he must have been in as he made a huge change in his life. I probably did not even register really in his world or in the minds of others who I felt hurt by. They really have much bigger things. I also tell myself that if someone does not want to be my friend that it is their loss. Maybe this is bad, I think that I am pretty cool in a lot of ways.

    Comment by Barb — December 29, 2007 @ 8:16 pm

  11. annegb-
    I stayed friends with an awful woman just so her kids could play with my kids for the same reason. I didn’t want her children to suffer because their mother was so awful. But it was really hard for me to do it. I’m so glad that you did something for those kids. I’m sure they’ll always remember you being kind to them…

    Susan M –
    Your “tip” (as you called it) is AWESOME. I need to write it down and post it somewhere!

    Comment by Cheryl — December 30, 2007 @ 1:09 am

  12. Thanks for the comments everyone. I’m not sure why we keep getting double comments on this page. Oh well, it’s just something we’ll have to forgive Rusty for. ;-)

    Spectator – you gave me some insight I hadn’t considered before – dissing his territory. Thanks for your thoughts.

    annegb – You’re way ahead of me in the forgiving – and serving – category. But I see that you put my rule to work – doing something nice for someone you don’t like – and I’m glad it worked.

    Barb – you mentioned how earlier in life this was not as big a problem for you as it now is. I totally understand. In fact I mark the day things changed for me. It was my first day at college and the instructor asked each of us to stand, state our name and then say something nice about ourselves. I chose to say “I never hold a grudge.” It was like I was calling Satan out on that issue. Since that day I have collected a long list of grudges – most of whom are totally one sided, in other words, the other person deosn’t even realize I’m mad at them. In fact they may not even know me. How wierd is that. I know, I need counseling! I’ve actually had some, years ago, and it helped.

    Let’s all hope for a great New Year for everybody – even our enemies!

    Comment by Lamonte — January 2, 2008 @ 8:19 am

  13. Sometimes I think I was placed on the earth to help others learn to forgive. Ha! Ha!

    Seriously, you hit on my biggest challenge. When I resent, I resent BIG time and it’s all I can do to harness my black feelings. I think I’ve gotten better the last couple of years, especially since I’ve thrown myself into service. At least I’ve gotten pretty good at cloaking the resentment. Still, it’s extremely frustrating how I– a fairly intelligent, insightful guy– could let little slights rule my days.

    *sigh*

    I guess we all need at least one good albatross to keep us company.

    Comment by David T. — January 3, 2008 @ 11:46 am

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