Gospel Study Sesh – Forgiveness
So gratitude is one of those topics that is more impactful than almost any other virtue that I’ve ever taken time to ponder, it will do more to make your life happier than anything else I can think of. Even a moment or two of thankful thoughts each day will heal and lift and shore up. It’s a good one.
With the spirit of Christmas about us, I’d like to spend a moment or two on forgiveness. I feel like most Christmas movies are built on this theme, forgiveness and acceptance. Why do we revisit these things during Christmas? “Mr. Kruegers Christmas,” a kid with a BB gun, that wacky ole Jimmy Stewart. I see forgiveness of others and self in each of those stories, so why is that a Christmas theme? What is it about the season of the Savior that leads us to forgive and love and not judge and criticize? I’m honestly not sure why it comes upon us in December and not during the 4th of July, or Valentine’s day, it really is a Christmas theme.
As I started thinking about forgiveness, my thoughts of course went to Gordon B Hinckley’s talk on the theme, where he told the story of the frozen turkey. I am listening to it now as I write this, I suggest you do too, it’ll be the best 18 minutes you spend today.
- What do Christmas and forgiveness have in common? What is it about Christmas that makes this a great time to work on forgiveness?
First off – man, I miss President Hinckley. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of love for President Monson, but President Hinckley was the prophet of my adolescence and young adulthood, so I’ll always have a soft spot for him.
What a great talk. President Hinckley calls forgiveness the “greatest virtue on earth.” Not charity. Not patience. Forgiveness. There is power in that, and in a world of hidden wedges and discord, it is incumbent upon us to forgive. Lift the burden from yourself!
- Spend thirty minutes and watch “The Prodigal Son” (below), an old Church-produced video that sets the famous tale found in Luke in the then-modern era (mullet-wielding 80s) and expands upon the character of the “good,” yet jealous brother.
- What do you learn about forgiveness from this video? How can you overcome longstanding bitterness or resentment toward someone?
Forgiveness is a wonderful thing isn’t it? I had a family member recently decide they were upset at another family member and could not even bring themselves to speak to them. It was pretty intense. They were so bothered they spent days stewing on how this other person had wronged them, how it was their fault, they should have done x / y / z, and until they did it, there would be NO FORGIVENESS! How about that?
As I observed this happening I thought of a few things, first, how much energy was wasted in being angry, hurt, or bitter. I feel I’ve been persistently reminded that life is really precious, it is short, in a flash it is gone, and the thought of wasting a single day being mad and unforgiving saddens me.
Second, what a stupid thing to hold hostage, your forgiveness. That mindset of “you’re not getting my almighty word until I decide you are” is so ridiculous. In the light of the Atonement, of the birth and life of our Savior during this season of celebration, how can anyone hold onto that thought pattern seriously? No, we are not at liberty to hold our forgiveness hostage, if Christ forgives us, we would be a pretty crummy servant to not forgive another, wouldn’t we?
- I think we often feel weary in asking forgiveness and in giving it. That thought of “I’ve already messed this up 10 times, I can’t ask to be forgiven again” and it’s external facing counterpart are frequent thoughts. What changes about forgiveness after 5x or 10x, how can we adjust for that so we remain sincere and genuine as we forgive and not feel guilty asking to be forgiven?
Getting weary of forgiving is a very real thing, and I’m glad it was brought up. Sometimes we feel like we simply can’t keep letting things go when those things are important to us! Heavenly Father has blessed all of us with various strengths and weaknesses, and when someone else doesn’t exactly line up with our way of doing things, without the correct amounts of patience and humility, the results can be disastrous.
But we are commanded – not merely asked – to forgive one another. This is serious stuff, and while I don’t want to lower the boom on anyone, as I, too am as guilty of guile and malevolence as the next guy, but what power there is in the ability to forgive! To be the person who has the courage to take that bold step in difficult situations is a worthy position, indeed. Be that person. Forgive others – not just privately, but directly engaging the so-called offensive party. Take that step and the Lord will bless you.
- When in your life have you seen hidden wedges get in the way of forgiveness and reconciliation? When have you removed a hidden wedge from your life? Which wedges remain?
Hidden wedges … I almost laughed out loud when I got this. Geoff and I take turns writing these and so every other one is a surprise. When I was a missionary, and my companion and I would start arguing over something -which happens, it just does – we would inevitably finish up our argument but there would always remain that awkward moment when you think you’re both good, but your not sure. You think the argument is finished, but unsure of what feelings were hurt or how each other feels exactly, so we all got in the habit of finishing our arguments (discussions of passion) with, “No hidden wedges elder?” and we’d laugh and say, “Nah, we’re good” and on we’d go. I never had actually heard the real talk before until Geoff’s email. 🙂
So these hidden wedges, they just rob your joy. They put a drain on the good in your life and add no value. You don’t have to let yourself be taken advantage of over and over again, but just let the hard feelings go and make better choices with the knowledge you have. Our job is to love people, help them feel the love of Christ, you can’t do that while also keeping score in your relationships.
- We had a listener write in with a great question / thought. She talked about for her, forgiveness is a process. She had gone through a divorce where trusts had been broken, and feelings were hurt and the traditional “poof you are forgiven!” didn’t have the desired effect. I thought about it for a bit, and I think I agree, there are times forgiveness becomes more complex in ourselves than we’d want it to be. That being said, how can we get better at moving through the steps of forgiveness and not stalling out midway through? What are the steps of forgiveness?