Monday, December 31, 2007

The Healing Power of Forgiveness ....

I gave a talk yesterday in church and it went really well. It was a really great meeting, Joeseph spoke about setting goals for the New Year and it went pretty well with mine.
Here it is:

Hymn # 120

“Lean on my ample arm, O thou depressed!
And I will bid the storm cease in the breast.
Whatever thy lot may be, on life’s complaining sea,
If thou wilt come to me, Thou shalt have rest.

Lift up thy tearful eyes, sad heart, to me;
I am the sacrifice offered for thee.
In me thy pain shall cease, in me is thy release,
In me thou shalt have peace eternally.”

I was considering these words as I was preparing this talk. Have you ever thought about what these statements are really saying? Jesus is inviting us to call on him in our storms and lay our burdens on him, all of them. To paraphrase: I have it pretty easy, why don’t you let me take your load for you, your hurt & your heartache, so you can rest.

What an amazing offer, yet so few of us actually take him up on this offer completely. Why not? The Lord tells us to do all we can, then bring the rest to Him and let Him finish it. Why is this so hard? To give away our hurt, our sorrow, our sin. I’ve had a very hard time with this all my life. It’s felt as if my stuff too much for him to bear. I can’t, so how could he? I’ve come to realize in the last few years, that Satan loves me miserable and sad and lonely and depressed. He especially loves it when I harbor ill will and resentment towards those who have made decisions which hurt me. He loves to make me think I can’t win and that I can’t move on and let it go. He loves making me think the world and everyone in it is out to get me. Well, no more, I cannot and will not let him control my life and how I live it. I’m not happy when I do and I want to be happy.

I want to live my life in a way so Heavenly Father will be proud of me and part of this is letting his son, Jesus Christ, do his part, and fulfill what he has already done. He is my brother and he wants nothing more than to help me get through my trials and hardships and help me absolve my sins with the Father. He was pained in Gethsemane for all of us, for the feelings of sorrow, pain and guilt we feel when we sin; but he also took upon himself all our sadness, and painful afflictions. He took this burden upon himself and died for us. He gave up himself as the ultimate sacrifice for us to take advantage of. It was not just to show everyone he could do it, but for us to understand how much He and our Heavenly family love us.

I recently sang in Michael McLean’s Forgotten Carols. In this musical fireside / play there is a song called Handel’s dream. The song is about George Frederic Handel as a young spirit, we were all in Heaven awaiting the Savior’s birth and a choir was being put together. The first time I heard this song, I found myself wondering if I was in that choir singing of the heavenly birth of my Brother. As I was writing this talk, I was struck by a new thought. When he was here on earth during his ministry, did I watch him in Gethsemane? Did I understand his suffering in the garden and dying on the cross, did I know what it meant? I know I did. I don’t know if I realized how much I would depend on this sacrifice but I knew of its importance. We all did and we felt the gratitude for him. We rejoiced and thanked him when he returned to us before the resurrection.

I often find myself wondering how it was for our Heavenly Mother in that time. We know from scriptures that Heavenly Father couldn’t bear to watch his Son die on the cross to the point of him creating such a dark storm as the earth had never experienced before. How she must have embraced him in those eternal moments before he left her side once again to fulfill the resurrection. I imagine such beautiful pride in her eyes knowing what it all meant and how it would create a way for all of her children to return to her. We always concentrate on Heavenly Father, not that we shouldn’t, but having lost my own mother when I was young, I find I think of her more often. Even though we don’t know much about her, I imagine the warmth we feel when we are encircled by love and forgiveness; it is mostly her arms around us. Why wouldn’t you want to do all you can so you can return back to such love?

We need to learn how to develop the pure love they have for us and our fellow brothers and sisters here on earth. We must learn how to extinguish hate, anger and the resentment we feel for our brother and sisters and mostly for ourselves. We need to realize we are not perfect, yet. It’s why we are here, to learn by his wonderful example how to be perfect. We need to let Him mold and shape us. We need to give up control to him and let him lead us.

How do we do this? By living as Christ would. We all know this seems so easy, but it can be very difficult to let things go and let Heavenly Father deal the judgments. There are those who He has chosen to help us in the matter and ordained them as such when we sin. I have come to realize that I don’t want the responsibility of laying down judgments. How can I judge others when I am no more perfect than they are. How I can possibly justify this? I can’t, plain and simple, I can’t.

So how do we let it go and allow the Lord to do his part when it feels and seems like it isn’t being resolved? Well, this is where that eternal perspective comes in. The Lord does things in his own due time and it is up to us to leave him to it. I know this a hard concept, but think for a moment how much energy and time we waste on harboring these feelings of guilt and sadness. Hate takes a lot more energy than love. How do these negative thoughts make you feel? For me, it’s as if I can’t breathe, I can’t think straight, I can’t feel the love Heavenly Fathers has for me because there is no room. It’s as of my spirit is suffocating, my light is flickering low and Satan is laughing with his hands up in triumph because he thinks he’s finally got me.

Do you ever feel that way? We must learn to recognize this and fight back. We cannot allow him to have us - we are not his. It is the easiest way Satan has to get us under his hold. He feeds off these feelings, he lengthens our sorrow for our sins by convincing us we aren’t worthy of forgiveness by the Lord or our brothers and sisters. He picks on our inadequacies and fuels our bitterness. He tells us to wait. Wait for the opportunity to forgive and then give it. This is not the way to happiness, Christ did not wait. This method will only keep you miserable and sad and angry and spiteful, just like Him, Satan, who was cast out of the sight of God because of his wickedness. Don’t fall prey to him, don’t let him have you even for a moment. He will latch on and hold you down and suffocate your spirit and take you to his darkness of despair.

Forgiveness is the key. We must get down on our knees and ask with a humble heart for the Lord’s forgiveness and help to overcome these feelings. Let him Heal You! Let the Atonement envelope you! Let his love be your air! Let it surround you and be joyful in its redeeming quality. God so loved us that he sent his Son to die for us and all we need to do is believe in his power. Call upon him in humble prayer and ask him earnestly. We must keep believing in him every day, our trials and hardships don’t go away and neither does he. These are eternal and continual truths, they have been since Adam and they will continue on long after we are gone for the future generations.

It is our responsibility not only to learn but to teach by example to those around us and in our care. We must do our part and forgive others, even if we have not been forgiven yet. It is so important to our eternal progression to forgive. We are not only here for our own eternal salvation but to help our brothers and sisters. We serve those who we love easily, but do you serve those who don’t treat you with love in their hearts? This is not an easy task, but if we serve those who have harmed or hurt us, we will find a new kind of love. It is the Pure love of Christ. Christ loved those who mocked him, spit on him, persecuted him, hit him, crowned him with thorns, and hung him on a cross. He forgave these people and asked Heavenly Father to forgive them. He is our ultimate example of how to live.

A few years ago, a friend gave me a bracelet which said “What Would Jesus Do?” Even though I don’t have that reminder anymore, it is still in my mind. Now, I don’t always listen to the answer, but when I do, I feel the love of my Savior and I know what to do and how to react to hard situations.

This life is in constant motion and the saying is true – “What goes around, comes around”. If we do what Jesus would, eventually we will receive that love back. If we follow this principle, life will be easier. This doesn’t mean our trials will go away, but our eternal vision will become clearer and we might even understand why we need to learn the principle before it’s over. It’s easy to have that Ahaa! moment after the trial, but wouldn’t it be nice to get it in the middle. If we see our trials as the Lord does, as learning experiences, we will not only learn more but it might also stick better.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matt. 11:28, 30.

This talk was about the Healing Power of Forgiveness. I hope I’ve said some things to enlighten you, maybe a different twist on an timeless concept. We all know forgiveness heals our spirits and allows us to be closer to our Heavenly Father. I think sometimes we allow our human parts complicated things which are simple. Be as Jesus Christ is, think like him, talk like him and act like him. I know the Lord lives and loves me; and all of you. He wants so much for us to be with him again, that he showed us the path and gave his only begotten Son. Live through the Atonement and show your gratitude for his sacrifice. Let him Heal you. Let Jesus be your advocate with Heavenly Father when you falter. I love my Savior and appreciate his sacrifice for me and hope I can make him proud of me.

-- Now if I can just really remember My own words and do as I'm instructing other to do!!

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