I was thinking about some things while I was getting up and around this morning. These are just my thoughts and observations. I welcome any feedback to help mold or hone my opinions.
I think many of us struggle with holding grudges. They end up being detrimental to ourselves and generally have no impact on the person we are upset with.
I have heard not forgiving people is like drinking a vile of poison every time we think of and hold resentment for what someone has done to us.
Imagine you invite someone over for dinner. You sit down at the table and your guest kicks your spouse under the table as hard as they can.
The meal continues and your guest excuses themselves from the table to use the restroom. When they return the push your young child's chair over with the child in it.
Things like this continue all night. They pull your little girl's hair. They yell and curse at your son.
How long would you let this person stay in your home? When would you invite them into your home again?
This is how it is with not forgiving someone and constantly focusing on the wrong that has been done to us. We become bitter or depressed. The person who has wronged us gets no punishment from this, but our families do.
If we let the bitterness continue to work in us, often we fall into depression and can't get out. This puts a lot of extra work on our spouses and families. We become less functional and they have to pick up the slack. It is also emotionally trying on them because they don't know how to help us.
Bringing a grudge into our home and not applying forgiveness to it is much like inviting in an abusive dinner guest. A dinner guess that turns into a house guest and moves in to stay.
We would never allow anyone in our home that treats us and our family like our grudges do and yet we treat them like cherished friends.
Forgiving does not mean we are not cautious around those that have wronged us, nor does it mean that we are saying what they did is OK. Forgiveness simply prevents us from allowing them to do further emotional harm to us without them even being present or ever being aware of it.
Additionally, sometimes we take offense when someone says or does something and let it derail our lives. I was reading in a magazine an article about a family stopped going to their church for a long time because someone said something the wrong way about their son's behavior. Their son has autism.
Here are some parts of the article, Find Our Way Back by Christine Bryant in Ensign from Sept 2012, that I found interesting.
"A few years ago, my husband and I let our feelings be hurt by a few comments made by fellow [congregation] members about our 12-year-old son with autism, and we decided to stop attending church.
"Time passed, and before long, it had been almost two years since we had attended church as a family."
At one point a couple of men from their congregation "began calling us almost weekly to set up a time to visit. We made excuse after excuse of why we couldn’t meet with them."
The article talks about how the men stopped by unannounced one day and were finally able to get in to see them.
"The spirit that filled our home that day was strong. The men spoke from their hearts, bearing testimony of the importance of returning to church. One spoke of his own experience with inactivity and his journey back to the fold. His story of faith and obedience was exactly what we needed to hear. When they invited us to return to the Church, we accepted their invitation and told them we would be at church the following week.
"Even though we knew we had made the right choice to return to church, we worried that our son would act out and that we would receive the same kinds of negative comments we had in the past."
They ended up finding that several men in the congregation volunteered to sit with their son during meetings and made a special effort to be his friend.
"Looking back, we realize that the comments made about our son were not meant to hurt him or us but instead reflected a misunderstanding of our son’s disability and how difficult it was to control his behavior, especially in large groups like our expanding [congregation]."
Don't Focus on the Problem, Focus on the Solution
Another article I read in the same issue of the same magazine talked of being so consumed by our problems of who has wronged us or how bad everything is, that we fail to look to the solution.
The article was "Overcoming Addiction through the Atonement" by Benjamin R Erwin in the September 2012 Ensign magazine.
"Many of us are familiar with the story in Numbers 21 in which the fiery serpents come among the children of Israel. To save the people, at the instruction of the Lord, 'Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived' (verse 9)."
Alma 33:19-22 also talks of the story from Numbers.