Dear 100 Hour Board,
I'm working on a research project about forgiveness. Some people really struggle to forgive others, and since the scriptures say we must forgive others if we want to be forgiven our sins and shortcomings before God, they sometimes feel like a lost cause. Do you know any official church sources that address this? Do you have any thoughts on the matter, yourself?
-Trying to understand
Sometimes forgiveness comes easy, like a gift from heaven. And sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes you really, really want to forgive, but years later you still can't seem to be at peace. I've felt all of these. Forgiveness is a choice, yes, but it's often something more than someone can do on their own and needs to come as a blessing from God. I think it's important to be understanding when someone struggles to forgive. You know, to forgive those who have a hard time forgiving.
Elder Faust gave a great talk on forgiveness as a member of the First Presidency. I quote some of it here:
Forgiveness is not always instantaneous.... When innocent children have been molested or killed, most of us do not think first about forgiveness. Our natural response is anger. We may even feel justified in wanting to “get even” with anyone who inflicts injury on us or our family....
Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.
Forgiveness comes more readily when ... we have faith in God and trust in His word. Such faith “enables people to withstand the worst of humanity. It also enables people to look beyond themselves. More importantly, it enables them to forgive.”
We need to recognize and acknowledge angry feelings. It will take humility to do this, but if we will get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father for a feeling of forgiveness, He will help us.