I've been asked to speak at church tomorrow and was given a topic to speak about. I've spent the better part of the week praying and trying to find the right words and this is what I came up with. I hope you will have an open space in your heart and mind as you read it and I sincerly hope the spirit will touch you, even as it has touched me for I have once again been strengthend and learned much. Please feel free to leave your comments, you don't have to be a blogger member to comment its open to everyone. And I thank you greatly for reading and sharing in this journey with me.
What Have I learned today:
after you read this you'll know :)
What will I remember:
That we area all eternal beings....
Whats to come:
of course tune in tomorrow and find out :))
Love From Dixie!
I do believe that many times when we are asked to teach a lesson or speak the Lord has a message not only for the class or congregation but also for the teacher or speaker, so I'm grateful for this opportunity but I've always been a better blogger than a speaker, so I've chosen to write my words for you and as I read them I pray that the spirit will be with you and with me that we may all receive the guidance and messages of the Lord.
When we think of the phrase "the healing power of forgiveness" naturally the first thing that comes to mind is the atonement. What a wonderful gift it is to have our burdens lifted and lives filled with hope as we are forgiven of our sins and they are remembered no more. However, there is another aspect to this phrase that I think, because we are at this time mortal, we tend to overlook, yet, it is one that is not only strongly stressed by our prophets and leaders but is a direct commandment from the Lord and that is that we too must also forgive.
It is a delicate subject, and one difficult to talk about for when we or our family members have been hurt or wronged or tragedy strikes, it can be a blinding pain to the soul. And again because we are mortal right now and have to remind ourselves to think eternally, many times we need to deal with our pain or loss. But sometimes in dealing with our feelings we talk ourselves into a procrastination and find reasons for putting off or postponing forgiveness with excuses and justification for being angry. We may be waiting for the wrong doers to repent before we forgive them, or maybe we are holding a grudge forgetting that the courageous thing to do would be to forgive. But it seems that when the innocent have been hurt or die usually we don't think of forgiveness first. Instead we become angry and feel justified to get even, thus, even though it is a delicate subject, it becomes a subject that we need to frequently revisit and strengthen.
As I was reading a 2007 conference report by President James E Faust he gives a definition of forgiveness saying that Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had, and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves. We know that all of us, everyone, suffers from things that can't be understood or explained. We may never know why some things happen and sometimes more than not, those reasons are only known by the Lord. Even so, we must valiantly endure them for they are given for our benefit, they are given, for our salvation.
As I was pondering over this topic and trying to find the right words, I sought the spirit earnestly, as it is a touchy subject and suddenly, while driving to the temple last week, a thought struck me. I know that in my past at times, I haven't always made the right or even good decisions and I'm almost certain that those particular decisions have hurt or wronged someone that maybe was in my path. The hurt and pain I may have caused was most likely unintentional and if it ever was intentional I can say it happened because I truly didn't know any better. I wasn't converted to the gospel or trusting in the Lord, I was living a worldly life. After turning my life around my thoughts and actions have become different and now I know and feel when something isn't right or I've done something wrong or if I am wrong in my actions toward others. And as I think back and remember the past, it is my sincere desire that anyone whom I might have hurt or wronged will forgive me. At the same time, through those years, there were many occasions when I myself was the victim and I was greatly hurt and sometimes even traumatized but if I, as a daughter of God, wish to be forgiven and come clean and whole to heavenly father, I must examine my thoughts and feelings toward others and I too must forgive. I also had the thought that, if we, who are converted to the gospel and have faith and the Holy Ghost have a hard time with this principle, how does someone without these things living in the world face forgiving. So then how can I not forgive, for I too was once there. If we, as members of the church want to be forgiven when we have inappropriate thoughts or actions towards another we must forgive our offenders, even if they never know that they have offended us, even if they never apologize, even if they never repent. We must forgive with our hearts and remember it no more.
When we exercise faith and trust in the Lord, the principle of forgiving becomes much easier. Our true faith can enable us to withstand even the worst of enemies as well as provide us with the wonderful gift of a chance to look beyond ourselves, to think eternally, to in our heart of hearts, forgive. If we do this for those who have caused us hurt we will gain a greater self esteem because people who are taught to forgive become less angry, they have more hope, and are less anxious or stressed and I can personally say this is true because as I daily examine myself and make a true effort I change and become a new woman.
It's not that easy you may say, how can this be done you may ask, as this is a great thing that is asked of me. But if we humble ourselves and acknowledge our anger then get on our knees and ask Heavenly father for a feeling of forgiveness, it will come. And as we rid ourselves of hatred and bitterness, we open ourselves for the Lord to provide comfort and peace.
I'd like to read an excerpt from the talk president Faust gave in 2007 titled "the healing power of forgiveness" For me I can say, it has been some of the best advice and teaching I have ever received and I know without a doubt he speaks the truth, he says: Forgiveness is a source of power, but it does not relieve consequences. When tragedy strikes we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go. It is not easy to let go and empty our hearts of festering resentment. The savior has offered us precious peace through the atonement but this can only come as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger spite or revenge. ( and I believe he is referring to any trespass for even the smallest of things can fester up and cause great unhappiness in our lives...) For all of us who forgive those who trespass against us, even those who have committed serious crimes, the atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort.
Now I'm going to tell you why I thought this lesson was for me and let me preface this by saying that I hope your hearts will be touched and that you can feel mine. A week ago last Sunday I was asked to speak and given this topic...just three days earlier I had been driving with my daughter tena to cedar hill and along the way on highway 67 we passed a School where my middle son Bryan attended for middle school. He attended that school because he had adhd and back in the day before there were so many resources and help many didn't understand what students needed and the student almost always had a hard time and wound up in trouble. My son Bryan was no exception he had a really hard time and the two principles at his original school and myself didn't agree on his measure of help, care and discipline so I moved him to another school, the one we had passed while driving. Later when Bryan went to high school I brought him back to grand prairie to attend and wouldn't you know it the two principles for his ninth grade year changed and those two that we had trouble with were now back in our lives. We honestly and truly tried our best to work with everyone, and though Bryan struggled he really did try his best to behave and pass his classes. Unfortunately many times in life one's past troubles carry through to the future and no matter what we did to try and get through the year and stay out of trouble it was not accepted by the principles and eventually Bryan dropped out. He didn't drop out without remorse though for he truly just wanted to be a normal high school boy and he wanted his diploma but there was just no way that was going to happen for many reasons but the main one was that he was called names and degraded by the adults in charge and we just couldn't fight. About a year after he had dropped out a new school was put together here that encouraged students who had dropped out or who had trouble to go back and receive their diploma. Bryan was so excited and so was I and we went to the school to apply and see if he could attend. We filled out all the paper work and waited to see the principle for his interview and when the doors opened and the man staring at us was one of the very principles we had been trying to escape, our hearts sank and we knew it was over. The man laughed at us, he actually laughed at us and told Bryan in front of me that he was a hopeless case and had no business in that school or any school and dismissed us without further words. For many nights after in the next two years to come I sat with my son holding him while he cried and I listened to him on the phone cry to me about how worthless he was and that he would never amount to anything, and, I counseled him many times while praying for help for he would tell me of how he just wanted to end his life for he was no good and would never amount to anything and the pain was just too much to handle. Two years later, after the school rejection, and many other incidents, Bryan died as a result of suicide. This is the memory that rang through my mind as Tena and I passed by the school where he attended and lost in thought I missed my exit and tena asked what was wrong. I told her that we were passing the school and I told her of my memories of why he had to go there and then it happened...I said and I quote " I wish I could find those two principles and go and look in their eyes and say to them are you happy now, Bryan is not here anymore to live his life because of People like you..." Tena immediately turned to me and said mom no, you know you don't believe that way and you know that's not right, and I know this is not you at all or what you believe, or what you've taught us and shown us, I know you don't mean what you said, just let it go and don't think about it ever again.....She was right for the moment the words had come out of my mouth I knew I was wrong and I had a great remorse at having said them and at having been a bad example for her but it happened so fast because of my pain and the words just flew from my mouth, later that evening I tearfully sought Heavenly father, for I know that those two men and anyone else I've ever had a bad thought about are Heavenly father's children they too are eternal beings and kept their first estate and came to this earth just like I did so I must rid myself of negative resentments and continue in my prayers for help because I really don't believe that way, but sometimes, even when we try so hard to live righteously, we can be caught off guard and fall into worldly thinking ....even so though, there was some good that came of this, because this was the first time in the three years since Bryan died that my daughter had ever heard me say something like that. I had done my best to exercise my faith and trust in heavenly father to relieve me of the pain, my daughter had seen this and she remembered it and she helped me when I fell....so not only was my life touched but so was hers.... I would like to bare my testimony and tell you that I know these principles are true and come from messengers of God I also know that if we exercise faith and follow these principles not only will our lives be touched and changed but so will the lives of those around us. I know that Heavenly Father is real, that Jesus is the Christ and this is his church and I pray that we all will be watchful and mindful of these things, and I do this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.