Yesterday in sacrament meeting at church, the topic our assigned speakers spoke on was love. More specifically they spoke on loving God and loving our neighbors, which are the greatest of all the commandments!
The last single adult to speak began his talk with the powerful New Testament scripture,
“Then said Jesus, Father, Forgive them; for they know not what they do…” Luke 23:34
As I heard these words, my mind immediately conjured up the scene where those words were spoken. I saw the Savior of the world hanging in agony upon a Roman cross. He had recently suffered incomprehensible pain and anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane as He took upon Himself the sins of the world. He had then been betrayed by one of His closest friends for a mere 30 pieces of silver. He was delivered into the hands of those who considered Him their enemy. Here He was mocked, threatened, beaten, and spit upon. Then He was delivered to another to be scourged, mocked some more, and sentenced to death. And having gone through all this, and more, He was still able to utter those pleading words to His father.
I then thought of the many times in my life and in the lives of my close friends and family when someone has hurt one of us deeply. I thought of my dear friend, who is like a sister to me, sobbing in pain over the seeming betrayal of the man she had begun to love and a girl she had considered a close friend. I thought of my older brother silently suffering because of the petty meanness of a girl he had almost married. I thought of the countless times I have been hurt inside by the thoughtless things people say to me about my single status.
The pain caused by the actions of others toward us is real, just as the pain Christ experienced those last many hours of His earthly life were real. Yet what good comes from holding onto that pain? None. All that comes from hoarding that pain and withholding forgiveness is pain that festers inside of us and blackens our lives. However, even knowing this, it still seems next to impossible at times to grant forgiveness to those who have harmed us.
I was taught once by a fellow missionary that the Atonement grants us the power to forgive. As I think of what Christ endured and what He was did in uttering those words of forgiveness at the end of His mortal life, I know that what the young missionary taught me is indeed true. I can forgive. Christ showed me how.
“…Father, Forgive them; for they know not what they do…” Luke 23:34
Those words spoke of understanding, forgiveness, closure, peace, and love — all of which can be ours if we are willing to follow the example of our Savior and make what He has done the standard in our dealings with others.