Why can it be so hard sometimes to forgive someone? We all do things in life that hurt someone else. When we do, we all want to be forgiven right? Most of the time forgiveness comes easily. But there are times that the feelings linger and that we just can't seem to let go of what happened. The Savior, of course, gave the perfect example of forgiveness. While yet suffering on the cross he spoke to His Father in Heaven and said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." If He can forgive while they were still in the act of tormenting and crucifying Him, why can I sometimes not forgive a small wrong doing? How can I ask the Lord for forgiveness when I can not forgive others? The scriptures say, "Lord forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." To forgive requires humility. When I am too stubborn to forgive I usually am filled with pride and become judgemental and harsh. It's not a feeling I like to have, yet it is a feeling that I bring on myself. I like to blame it on those who have hurt me but I am the only one that can control my feelings and I am the only one that can allow the actions of others to turn my heart. Their actions may have hurt me in the beginning, but it then becomes my actions that cause continued hurt. Our hearts need to be filled with love, forgiveness, faith and a willingness to obey in order to keep us on the path that leads back to our Father in Heaven. In a talk from Thomas S. Monson he quoted poet George Herbert saying, "He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven, for everyone has need of forgivness." We all do things for which we need forgiveness and we cannot be forgiven if we do not ourselves forgive. Yet, with all the knowlegde that we have, it still can be hard, at times, to forgive. What then, will hep us along that path to forgiving others when it seems too hard? Well, I don't know all the answers because it is something that I am struggling with at this moment, but I do know a few things.
The first is prayer. The scriptures say, "Let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto God continually." Prayer is so important in the heart changing process of forgiveness. Turning our hearts and souls over to the Savior and our Father in Heaven allows the spirit to come and soften us. It allows the One who has suffered all to blanket us in His love and help us to know that He has felt our pain and our hurt. I, personally, do not want to be one of the ones driving the nails deeper into His hands. I don't want to be one of His drops of blood, yet when I am so unable to forgive that's what I become. So prayer, for me, is the most important thing I can do to forgive others.
Another thing is to read the scriptures. In John the Savior taught, "search the scriptures; for...they are they which testify of me." The Lord can speak to us through the words of the scriptures. Here we can learn our purpose in life. We can learn faith, repentance, hope, love, forgiveness and so much more. All that we need is here for us. We can learn from the teachings and our hearts can be softened, and we can find the ability to forgive.
The last thing that helps me is to do service. Sometimes I do service for the people who I cannot seem to forgive, sometimes it is for someone else. No matter who though, it always helps me feel better. The Savior set the perfect example of service. He spent His life serving and He gave His life serving. Service will bring us closer to Him and thus help our hearts be filled with love towards those around us. When we try to act like Jesus, His spirit will help us along our way.
Why am I going off on this? Well, because I need it. My spirit needs to be softened. My heart needs to be filled. Forgiveness can be such a cleansing process. When we extend our forgiveness, it's like we reach this freedom that's almost indescribable. It is liberating and exhilarating. Being unforgiving is such a heavy, burdensome feeling. It weighs you down and sucks up all your energies. To finally let that go is amazing. I need to let it go. I need to suck up my pride and be free. Will it be hard for me? Yes. Despite my knowledge, it will still be hard. But I know the path I need to go and I have started down it. I know to whom I can turn for guidance and reassurance. He will lengthen my stride and help me along, if I will but continue on the path. He gives us strength when we are weak, He lifts us up when we are down, He lightens our load when it's too heavy to carry. All I have to do is ask.