Picture standing on top of a mountain looking at a sunrise. You notice the vibrant colors against the bright blue sky and the radiant sunshine breaking through.
Now picture gazing at this same sunrise with a bag of garbage next to you. Old food and dirty diapers wafting by as you watch. Will you notice the colors? Will you stand in awe of God’s creations? NO! You will smell that stink! Being a mom, I have smelled my fair share of dirty diapers and believe me, it is hard to notice anything else when one is nearby!
This example has a parallel with our relationships. If we want to enjoy life, we have to learn to forgive. Before Jesus died on the cross, he was treated horribly. Yet, after all he suffered, he didn’t ask Heavenly Father to get revenge on the people who mistreated him. No, he actually said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” If Jesus could forgive people who treated him so badly and eventually killed him, then we can too, even if it’s a small thing. A friend breaks a promise, a boy spreads an untrue rumor, someone makes fun of you in front of a crowd…all circumstances that cause pain. But, when we hold grudges, when we harbor unkind thoughts and feelings towards those who hurt us, we only cause ourselves more pain. This is something our Savior knows and why his example is so important.
When I was in high school, there was a girl who, for reasons unknown to me, started being extremely rude. She would whisper and laugh with her friends when I walked by and she would tell boys who were my friends things I said that I really did not say. This hurt. And my initial reaction was anger, resentment, embarrassment and revenge. This continued for a few weeks and really affected my ability to enjoy other things I had going in my life. As it got worse, my mother shared with me Matthew 5: 44: “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you…” The feelings I had been harboring over the previous weeks were consuming and depressing. So I tried out God’s suggestion.
I was amazed. It worked! As I prayed for this girl, my heart softened, and the things she was doing no longer bothered me. I forgave her. It felt so good. And the problem eventually just went away.
Just like trying to enjoy a sunrise with a bag of garbage next to us, it is impossible to harbor unkind feelings and withhold forgiveness from someone and not let it affect us. But when we forgive, we literally let our Savior take that stinky garbage away. We are then free to enjoy our life and not let what was said or done to us define us. It is what our Savior did, so it must be the best way.
Guest Post by Jesika Henderson Harmon
Jesika Henderson Harmon is a dancer, a soccer player, a wannabe chef, a teacher, a pianist, a runner, a lover of healthy and not-so-healthy food, an outdoors woman, a reader of good books, a wife to her amazing husband Robbie, and mother to her four favorite children, Bree, Gabe, McKay and Quinn. During her college years she served a mission in Hungary, did humanitarian work in Zambia, traveled around the U.S. as America’s Junior Miss 2000 (now called Distinguished Young Women) speaking to youth about being their best selves, performed as a featured soloist with BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre, and graduated with BA in English with honors. Most recently she spends her time homeschooling her children, reading, writing for @ScriptureLight and looking forward to date nights. Jesika is most grateful for her testimony of Jesus Christ and the strength she receives from him. She believes deeply that life is what you make it, and strives each day to make it wonderful.
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