The Power of Forgiveness

Mental illness is a heavy topic. Sometimes it can get overwhelming and depressing. So I thought I’d take a break today and write about another topic that is important to me.

Many years ago I was asked to give a talk in church about forgiveness. Several years after that I had to give a lesson on it in Relief Society, a class where some of the women at my church meet to learn about and discuss the gospel. Think God was trying to tell me something? I know He was. Forgiveness is something I struggle with—being able to get over the pain or hurt others have caused me. I know I struggle with it, and it is something I’m constantly working on and praying for help with. When I was asked to give a talk on it all those years ago, a story from my past popped into my head—one I thought about often, but it was the first time I realized that it truly was a story about the power of forgiveness. A story about me and a girl named Sarah.

pink-feathers-2814_640

Sarah was pink. For those of you who knew her, you know what I’m talking about! She was pink, frilly, girly, outgoing, flirtatious—nothing like me. We were as different as two people possibly could be. The only thing we had in common was that we were both girls, and we both played the flute. So it wasn’t surprising that we quickly became rivals in our junior high band class. One year I sat first chair, Sarah sat second. The next year, she got to play the piccolo, and I didn’t. Our dislike of each other only grew, and before long we weren’t just rivals. We were enemies.

I remember how happy—like giddy happy—I was when my sophomore year of high school came because it meant one year in band without Sarah; she was a year younger than me. Unfortunately, she wasn’t as far away as I thought. Sometime that year, I discovered some flute players I had met and made friends with, who had gone to a different junior high, took from the same private teacher as Sarah. Apparently, she had told their flute teacher bad things about me who had, in turn, told them.

“We thought you were going to be a horrible flute player, and that we wouldn’t like you,” they said. “But now we know Sarah didn’t know what she was talking about. You’re a good flute player, and we do like you!”

I was glad they hadn’t let their flute teacher’s assessment of someone she had never met before influence them, that they had decided to be friends with me anyway, but it was not cool that that’s how they had found out about me. Rather than being mature and just brushing it off, I hypocritically went and trashed-talked Sarah to some of my other friends.

My junior year of high school came, and Sarah came with it. We were in band together again, and the truth was that she was a better flute player than me. She sat first chair, I sat second. It was a blow to my ego and just another difficulty for me to deal with in the midst of my horrible depression. One day that year I got to school to find a note tucked into my band locker. The writer of the note said they had seen me crying the day before, and it made them sad because they hated seeing other people sad. It said they hoped I felt better, and if I ever needed to vent or just needed a hug they would be there for me. It was signed from Sarah. And just like that, years of distrust, dislike, and rivalry completely washed away. Sarah was still pink, and we were still as different as two people could be, but we became good friends.

girlfriends-2213259_1920We never hung out outside of school because we had very different kinds of friends, but at school, we were always there for each other. If I ever needed a kind word or a little boost to help me out on a rough day, I would go to Sarah. Likewise, if she ever felt down or was having a problem, she came to me. Sarah became someone I grew to love and always felt grateful for. She was a light in my life.

Three years after graduating high school, when I was away at college, my mom called me. It was finals week, and I had just completed my last test. My mom told me that Sarah had been killed in a car accident. I’ll never forget the way my heart plummeted, the way my blood turned to ice. After I got off the phone I just started balling. I couldn’t believe Sarah was gone. She had meant so much to me. She still means so much to me.

I’ve often thought about Sarah, about our story, since high school. And it was when I had to give that talk in church that I truly understood that ours was a story of forgiveness. I had never looked at it that way before, but I realized if she hadn’t been able to forgive me, she would never have given me that note in the first place. And had I not been able to forgive her, I never would have trusted her and probably would have just thrown her note away without a second thought. We’d both behaved in a non-Christ-like attitude towards each other, but luckily, we had both been able to forgive each other, and look what came of it! Two people who were so different, who disliked each other so much and had became bitter enemies, became very good friends who loved and cared about each other.

While I still struggle at times with forgiveness I’m so grateful for the lesson in my own life about what powerful things can happen when we do follow Christ’s example and commandment to forgive.

3 thoughts on “The Power of Forgiveness

  1. ❤ I kind of suck at hurting people's feelings and most of the time I don't even realize I'm doing it. We get so caught up with what is happening in OUR world that we can't see beyond ourselves. I hate it, but I am working on it, too. I had an experience with a teacher who'd hurt me…and I did the same. A little note, not hashing on any of our past. We had a great rest of the year together and I was forever grateful I sent it. Forgiveness is such a rush of happiness I often wonder why I don't do it more. And that's probably cause I cannot get past MYself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been completely humbled by the power of forgiveness. I posted on your blog about being compassionate. I had hurt and been hurt by family and friends, and it was awful. My pastor has been helping me heal in my relationship with God and my family. My mom and I met together with my pastor. It was very difficult at first–super hard to get past the hurts. We are trying to better communicate our feelings without passing judgments. Neither of us really understood the problems we were both facing. I was too selfish to understand that she had problems I wasn’t aware of, and she really didn’t understand what I was going through in my darkness. We still have a long ways to go. You have said that we need to tell others what we need, and I agree; however, we need to help others understand why we need what we need. Someone who doesn’t feel depressed or anxious or confused or hurt doesn’t always understand those of us going through that. God doesn’t want us hurting ourselves or each other. He said that if we extend mercy to others he will extend mercy to us. He told us to love Him and to love others. It sounds so easy but can be so hard because we won’t open ourselves to the possibility that we might be hurt and hurt again when we love others so much. I am not loving God if I’m hating others. Forgiving others, to me, is the greatest manifestation of love that there is. I still have a ways to go with my family and some of my friends, but I think that one by one, with God’s help, I can heal those relationships. I am trying to focus on the love rather than the hurt. I am trying with all my heart to put the past in the past and move forward. I am so thankful to my pastor for helping me see these things and for helping me turn my heart back to God so that I can turn my heart back to family and friends, too. Thank you for sharing your story of forgiveness. I think as we share we strengthen others. God bless you!

    Like

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I agree with you that sharing helps strengthen. And it also helps teach. I like what you said about explaining to others why we need what we do. I hadn’t thought of that, but I absolutely think you are right–that is definitely important. So thank you for teaching and for strengthening me!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s