Imagine you make a mistake. You treat someone poorly or you say something stupid that you regret. You truly want them to forgive you.
Now imagine that this person says to you, “I will NOT forgive you!”
Wow! How would that feel? How would that affect your relationship in the future?
Well, we can’t control whether others forgive us or not. But we can control if we forgive others, and here are some important reasons it blesses YOUR life and those around you as you forgive others.
1 – Help Others Heal and Improve
When we forgive others, it gives them a safe place that does not condemn or criticize them. This does not mean we condone or advocate sin or bad choices. It means we accept them unconditionally and have faith in their ability to repent and improve through our Savior’s atonement.
When we refuse to forgive, we become the devil’s advocate. Satan is skilled at punishing us with shame which is a very depressing feeling to be stuck in. It literally keeps us stuck and keeps us from growing and improving.
There is a big difference between shame and guilt. Guilt is healthy and pricks our conscience to improve. Guilt says “I made a mistake.” Shame says, “I am a mistake.”
If a person is feeling shame and hopeless to improve, our withholding of forgiveness makes it harder for them to believe that they can progress.
2 – It Boosts Your Self-Esteem and Well-being
Forgiving is as much for you as the perpetrator. A great quote from Max Lucado is:
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”
When you remember that you are a divine being and child of a loving Father in Heaven, you feel deserving and worthy of being treated with love and respect. When someone sins against you, your self-esteem and well-being can be strengthened as you forgive.
James E. Faust tells us:
“If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being.”
You will recognize that the other person’s mistake is something that you don’t need to take personally. We are all under the influence of the adversary and it just happened that you were the victim of this particular event. You gain courage and confidence as you forgive someone who was being attacked by Satan.
3 – Lightens Your Load
You have enough to worry about every day without carrying extra baggage around. Forgiving can free brain space and brighten your emotions as you let go and lighten your load.
You may have heard that “time heals all wounds.” This is not necessarily true if you are not actively seeking to forgive through prayer or communicating in some way to forgive the other person. perhaps verbally or with a written note or text.
As with all important things in life, true forgiveness may take action and persistence on your part. And it may take longer to truly forgive than we would like to admit, but all things are possible through Christ.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:29-30
4 – Purifies and Sanctifies Your Soul
We are blessed as we follow the commandments and words from our Savior, Jesus Christ. He has told us:
“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” ~D&C 64:10
This is not an easy thing to do. But if you are sincere in your desire to forgive others, the Lord will provide the way although sometimes a bit of patience, trust and time are required. As you seek to purify yourself, the Lord will continue to bless your efforts and bless your life.
5 – Greater Peace & Unity
Forgiving others is crucial to creating greater peace and unity. The recent pandemic of 2020 showed us how quickly beliefs and differences of opinions caused division and even violence in our communities.
Love and unity are topics the Savior taught about all throughout the scriptures. In Mosiah 18:21 we read:
“And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.”
The importance of being one is emphasized in D&C 38:27 which says:
“…I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.”
Forgiving others is one of the keys to greater peace and unity in our lives. May be all be blessed with the courage to forgive even the deepest of sorrows and pain. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!