For a long time, I had so much anger and bitterness in my heart. At the same time, my brain and body were as anxious as they’d ever been. What a roller coaster of emotions. Deep down I knew that I needed to let go of the hurt and anger and bitterness that came because of what I’d experienced in high school. I needed to let go of everything that my abuser did. But for some reason, letting go and forgiveness seemed impossible.
I wanted to hold on to the anger and the bitterness because I thought that if I let it go if I forgave him, it would mean that I was okay with what had happened. That I didn’t care anymore, even though that was so far from the truth.
Forgiving my abuser doesn’t mean that I forgot what happened. It also doesn’t mean that I’m looking at him and saying ‘oh it’s okay’ after he apologized (which he did. I realize this is rare, but it did happen.) For me, forgiveness has turned me to Christ, to the very one who can take away all of our pain and sorrows. Forgiveness is turning it all over to God, it was me saying “God, I cannot carry this hate and bitterness and anger anymore. Please, take it from me.” It was me recognizing that all the anger and hurt and hate and bitterness was only hurting my life and that I needed to let it go, and trust that in the end, God will take care of everything.
I feel like writing this makes it sound easy, but it’s still been so so hard.
Every day I still work to give my burdens and my troubles to God. I am constantly working on letting go and moving forward. It is a process. It’s been a process for 9 years.
For a while, I really struggled because I felt like no one at church was talking about forgiveness this way. What do you do when someone really hurts you? What do you do if they don’t apologize? What do you do if they do? I continue to ask myself these questions because I really just don’t know. I’ve been listening to the latest General Conference from last October and this past week I listened to The Ministry of Reconciliation by Elder Holland. And as I listened, I felt like I should write this post.
I honestly don’t know how much of this make sense, but I knew I needed to share a little bit more of my experience. Of how I’ve been turning to God to take away the pain and anger and hate through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He’s the only one that can take away the pain. I can’t go back in time, my history and past can’t be changed, but I can change who I am going forward and how I feel, and that’s all because of the Savior.
To end I want to share some quotes from Elder Holland’s talk, you can read or listen to the entire thing here as well:
“Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” Christ taught in New Testament times. And in our day: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you, it is required to forgive all men.” It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what He did not say. He did not say, “You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.” Nor did He say, “In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.” But notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the path of true healing. That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, “Come, follow me.”
My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify that forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid “with healing in his wings.” We thank Him, and our Heavenly Father who sent Him, that renewal and rebirth, a future free from old sorrows and past mistakes, are not only possible, but they have already been purchased, paid for, at an excruciating cost symbolized by the blood of the Lamb who shed it.
With the apostolic authority granted me by the Savior of the world, I testify of the tranquility to the soul that reconciliation with God and each other will bring if we are meek and courageous enough to pursue it. “Cease to contend one with another,” the Savior pled. If you know of an old injury, repair it. Care for one another in love.
My beloved friends, in our shared ministry of reconciliation, I ask us to be peacemakers—to love peace, to seek peace, to create peace, to cherish peace. I make that appeal in the name of the Prince of Peace, who knows everything about being “wounded in the house of [His] friends” but who still found the strength to forgive and forget—and to heal—and be happy.