Latter-day Saints have a service each first Sunday of the month called Fast and Testimony meeting. The day before we fast two meals and give the cost, or more to the Fast Offering fund. Then in place of a regular church service we have a time when whoever wishes to may stand and bear testimony to how the gospel and God have helped their lives. Yesterday was Testimony meeting for September.
One young member, about 10 or 11 years old. Stood and bore a beautiful testimony of how forgiveness helps her. She come from a loving, supportive family. They sit reasonably well behaved during church and I have seen her help with younger sibling. So, at first glance one wonders what she has to forgive. Well, she’s the oldest of four girls and as the second oldest of five girls, I can relate. She has three younger sisters!
She stated that forgiving someone makes her feel good. That she thinks it is easy and then finds out it can be hard. She said, “I think sometimes, we say we forgive, but do we really? I have to forgive my sisters and I have to forgive my friends, and I have to forgive myself.”
photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/yarn-colors/
The story goes that one day, a soldier traveling between battles, found himself in a small town. He was jauntily strolling the streets when he saw a length of colorful string on the sidewalk. He picked it up and put it into his pocket thinking, perhaps I can use this, it might bring me luck. Later that day, as the soldier was enjoying a simple but delicious dinner, he was accosted by the local constabulary, arrested for theft and taken to jail. It seems a girl had lost her brightly colored purse and someone had seen the soldier pick up a brightly colored object and place it into his pocket.
Try as he might, even by producing the string, the soldier could not convince the suspicious folk he was not the thief. Some days later, the purse was found and the soldier was unceremoniously released.
Feeling that he was justly insulted for being unjustly condemned, he tried to obtain an apology from the locals, to no avail. Finally, he left town but told his tale of woe to everyone he encountered, without ceasing. In fact, his last mortal words were, “a piece of string, it was just a piece of string.”
I looked for a picture of forgiveness and found a quote, lots of them. One site listed 2461 quotes tagged as forgiveness. Obviously more people than my young church sister think that forgiveness is important.
Someone, perhaps the great philosopher Anonymous wrote, “To heal a wound you need to stop touching it.” As a nurse, I understand that. Even a simple cut can become infected and enlarged if not treated properly and then left alone to heal. A small scab may become an ugly scar if repeatedly ripped off before it falls on its own. How many emotional wounds do we keep touching?
My young church sister asked the question, “I think sometimes, we say we forgive, but do we really?” I’m asking what if?
What if the leaders on both sides of the conflict in ___pick a place____ decided to take Oscar Wilde’s advice, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much?” Well, that’s pretty obvious, ISIS would simply be an old Egyptian goddess (a peaceful one at that), and the newspaper would be a lot thinner.
What if then, if you and I forgave our sisters, brothers, friends, parents, children, co-workers, idiots on the road or in Congress, would we even have the inclination to make enemies?
Above all, what if we forgave ourselves?