I heard an amazing talk today given in our church. I really liked it and wanted to paraphrase and add to it a little here. This good brother, was talking about living in our small town and about one of the first years that he was asked to coach the high school football team. He spent a lot of time with the boys and worked with them and wanted them to do well. It was their first big game and he coached the game. The team won! The boys did an amazing job.
When he was on the field with the boys talking to them, the parents of one of the boys came up to him and started yelling at him because he did not play their son enough in the game. They yelled at him in front of the boys and the other parents. They behaved that way and than on Sunday they went to church with him.
Somehow, he was supposed to just forget about it. He saw them in Church, he saw their kids at school, he saw them around town and around the neighborhood. He could not escape seeing them and dealing with them. He had to slowly learn to let go of the anger and forgive them, even though they never asked for forgiveness, and even though they probably never even thought that they did anything wrong.
Small town living can be so rewarding! When we first moved here, the girls were so excited when we went to the little neighborhood grocery store and they saw their teacher! Or when we went to church and saw their principal. Or when we went out to the only restaurant in town and saw their new friend. It can be so fun to meet those people who are so much a part of your life.
However, sometimes it can be a hard thing too! When you meet the boy you used to like, or the girl who calls you names everyday on the bus. When you did something stupid and have to see the people who witnessed your mistake, in the Post Office. It can be so hard to live in a small town because you can never escape your mistakes. Everyone knows all about them!
Sometimes, that it the way it is. Our churches can be a lot like my small town. You see the same people every week. They are even called your "church family". So, think for a moment. Do you ALWAYS get along with your family? Are you always loving and kind? I think that we all have difficulties at home with those we love. And if we have difficulties with them, why would we think for a moment that we would not have difficulties with other people? I have always told my children that home is the one place they can always return to if they are in trouble. I will always love them. I may not love some of their choices. But I will always love each and every one of my children.
If I can feel that way, don't you think your Heavenly Father feels that way even more so than I? Don't you think He loves you always. He knows of your sins. He gave His son so that we can return back home as long as we repent. I have decided that repentance means so much more than being sorry for your own sins. I think it means to feel remorse for those who have offended you also. If someone wrongs you, or offends you, why do we not make the first move to forgive?
It is exactly the same as when my daughter, Mikayla, hits her sister, Anya, and Anya's feelings are hurt and she is going to be mad until Mikayla says she is sorry. Mikayla is not sorry because Anya was teasing her and annoying her. Who is at fault? Who needs to say they are sorry? If you have ever been a parent, you know that they both need to apoligize for their mistakes. They both are to blame.
Sometimes, maybe it is truly one person's fault. I have known people who were offended at church and than quit going. They would not go to the same church as "those people". Why, when someone we don't respect, says something hateful to us, why would we allow that to determine how or when we worship our Heavenly Father? Why would we allow someone else's opinion or actions to decide what type of relationship we have with God? And the biggest why of all: Why would be allow ourselves to feel angry, upset, and unforgiving due to anyone elses actions?
True forgiveness means to let go of the anger. True forgiveness happens when we forgive before the other person asks us to. True forgiveness is when we remember that each one of us is a child of God. No matter what path we have chosen to travel.
D&C 64: 8-10
"My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.
Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men".
If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. - Mother Theresa
If men wound you with injuries, meet them with patience; hasty words rankle the wound, soft language dresses it, forgiveness cures it, and oblivion takes away the scar. It is more noble by silence to avoid an injury than by argument to overcome it.
-- Francis Beaumont