Two tough acts to follow Brock and Izzie? A few years ago I participated in this program and it encouraged you to choose a word for the year. Throughout time you would define the word and you would focus on how it applies to you or how to apply the word in your life. And you just took time to reflect on that particular word, and in your daily life. The purpose of course, is to make yourself more aware of the word and to make the word more visible in your life. So Initially, when well, it was difficult for me to originally to commit to a word and ultimately I finally chose my word. So naturally when Brother Jones asked me to speak today and assigned me, this topic, which happened to be my word from 2018. I immediately thought to myself Okay, I'm a little familiar with what that word, with that topic. And that being the topic of forgiveness. Im a little nervous I don't know why. Maybe because I'm a dork and even though I was thinking about it I didn't actually put my thoughts to paper until last night. And so I apologize up front. And maybe my next word should be avoiding procrastination.
I chose this word forgiveness because at the time I had been deeply hurt and offended by the actions of somebody else. Somebody who barely even knew who I was. And so my thought was, how could they be so cruel? I was upset and I truly had never before felt like that. Maybe once in my life. Like I did at that time. It consumed me at times and it took me several weeks until I eventually became acutely aware that I was having difficulty forgiving them. I was holding on to it, I couldn't let it go. I finally realized after some prayer that not forgiving this person in and of itself was causing me more harm and anguish. Have you ever been there? Desiring to be emotionally validated in your state of hurt feelings. Seeking justification, revenge, whatever. That you overlook entirely the beauty and miracle of forgiveness. It doesn't mean forgiveness, doesn't mean that we need to act like we are not hurt. It's okay to feel. The sooner we ask for heaven's help the better off we are. And where would we be if we did not have the blessings of forgiveness in our lives? I mean just today we just experienced and have the immense blessing of partaking of the sacrament. An opportunity we are extended weekly. Where we get to seek the forgiveness from our own shortcomings. Shortcomings at times may include our inability, our struggle to forgive others. No matter how harmful we feel they have been towards us. I found this scripture. Alright, I found a scripture not while reading the scriptures. I was reading another book and I found this scripture in and I love it. It's in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 32. It says and be ye kind one to another. Tender-hearted forgiving one another even as God for Christ sake has forgiven you. It resonated with me as I thought about my word those first few months of that year (forgiveness). I struggled as I came to realize that I was going to have to make some effort on my part and not because I wasn't willing, but because I was still in the mode that I was the one that was harmed. Why should I have to put in any extra effort? And why did this require me to do so? But as I continue to seek peace, I realized that I cannot change what this woman had done nor could I change how she continues to act toward me. But what I could change was me, I could use my agency. In the end, it was really my choice. The Savior came to earth to forgive our sins. Everyone sins, even those who have offended us or hurt us. We don't actually have the right to hold them accountable or to make them pay If you will. Forgiving others is just one side of forgiveness. But being forgiven is another. What about those we have offended? Have you ever come to realize others have been offended by your actions, or even your words? Sometimes we might be aware, maybe even a little intentional. But many times our actions and words are unintentional. More times than we realize or we'd like to think about, we're not even aware of the pain that we inflict on others. So for any of you today that I'm sorry if I've, I know for a fact, it's not intentional, but Im pretty sure maybe I've hurt somebody at some point. I've come to realize though through this study of this word that our peace and happiness is not going to come through apologies although they do help on both sides. Our peace and happiness will come through our Savior and from the actual act of forgiving others. How can we even imagine being forgiven by him, If we are not able to forgive others? I think of that all the time. I know my shortcomings. I think one of my siblings, I love him to death, he struggles with substance abuse and addiction and it drives me absolutely crazy. Because my life is impacted by his choices. It's complicated and I don't have the time to begin to explain how that happens. Many friends and family members suggest that I have too much going on to worry about him. Not to mention the added stress. They suggested, let him go figure it out himself and I'm tempted, many times, but I cannot do it. They think Im crazy and sometimes I even think I'm going crazy. I feel I cannot hold a grudge that is not mine to hold. Isn't that just the world and the natural man? Just decides it. In Doctrine and Covenants in section 64 verse 10, it says, I will forgive whom I will forgive. But of you, it is required to forgive all men. In Matthew-Doctrine and Covenants section 98, it tells us that's 70 times seven. That's 490 by the way, but it's always it's forever. It's always. President Hinckley said, "It may not be easy and it may not come quickly, but if you will seek it with sincerity and cultivate it, it will come. There will come into your heart a peace otherwise unattainable. And remember of you, it is required. That's why it's called the miracle of forgiveness. I think the natural man wants us to hold others accountable as if somehow, that will make us feel better. And yet, when we cultivate our desire to forgive, no matter how long it might take us to accomplish, we are healed through the Savior. That is the miracle. We know our desires to forgive our nearing the end of their journey, when we actually have a genuine desire for the welfare of the person that has offended us or has wronged us in some way. It's not when we just forget what they did or what had happened. Its when we begin to care about them, we begin to include them in our prayers. And we begin to generally think about their well-being, that's when we know our efforts on forgiving others are completed or nearing completion. What helps me to not be offended or feel wronged by my brother is realizing that he didn't wake up saying gee, how can I ruin my sister's life today. Although sometimes, I think that. But he doesnt. Its likely his first thought is, how can I hang on to life today? How can I feel or experience a joy that I see others experience and feel? How can I make my life, right? Sorry, I know he's trying. And I only came to realize this as I started to consider what his intent and motives were. And then I realized, I wasn't even in that equation, no matter how much it affected me and how much I felt wronged by his actions. I wasn't even a part of that equation. He was just struggling. He was just trying to overcome his battle. It helps me to understand this and to refuse to be offended. It would help you to consider the intents or motives of others before choosing to be offended. Think about Moroni and Pahoran in the book of Alma. Pahoran chose not to be offended about what Moroni wrote in that really direct letter. And he chose not to be offended. I think about Moroni he didn't even know what was going on. That happens in our lives so often. We're not aware about what is going on in other people's lives, or even of their intents or motives, unless we stop to think about them. I've had a few callings in the church which at times required extraordinary service to others, which I gladly gave or offered. This was to people that I didn't even know. I didn't know what their story was. I didn't know why they were in the place that they were, but with the model and the teachings of the gospel, we offer help with the gospel. Im able to remind my o brother of his value and his worth when others won't and to look for the good. It is so easy to see the bad If we're only looking for the bad. We have to look for the good and that takes some effort sometimes too. Again, it's the Saviors job his mission to forgive and to heal. It's our responsibility, however, to seek forgiveness, and to extend, forgiveness to others. We can ask for his help. The whole thought process between us and the Savior. I'm not saying that restitution isn't necessary because when that is, when you're able to do that, that in fact is good. And but I'm simply saying that starting with the desire to forgive and then working in cultivating that desire until we reach the true state of forgiveness. For your sake and for my new favorite scripture: As God did for Christ's sake. Because He allowed us to do that. He came and paid the price for all of us. It is the least we can do. Thank you brothers and sisters for indulging in those thoughts and experiences that have helped me to come to realize more effectively the miracle and the power of forgiveness. I am so grateful for the gospel of what it teaches me. I'm so great for a Savior, who loves us and undeniably and who helps us to feel that love when we go through our challenges here on earth. I share these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.