Come, Follow Me with John Hilton III (Doctrine and Covenants 64-66, June 14-20) – powered by Happy Scribe
Imagine you want to reduce your risk for a heart attack. What should you do? Should you try running, eat healthy, forgive others? Actually, it’s all of the above. While forgiving others might seem like a surprising choice, according to one medical researcher, forgiving others can serve as a protective factor against future cardiovascular disease. And other researchers reported that the act of forgiveness may be related to overall reductions in blood pressure levels and may aid in cardiovascular recovery from stress.
Whatever the medical effects, it is certain that forgiving others can help us find peace. Many years ago, I heard a story in general conference that’s always stuck with me. President Gordon Hinckley told the story of a teenager who, just for fun, stole the credit card and bought a bunch of stuff, including a 20 pound frozen turkey. Well, this teenager apparently not wanting to cook the turkey, threw it out of his speeding car right into the windshield of a car coming toward him.
As a result, the driver of the car had to receive extensive surgery and literally years of physical therapy. Quoting from the newspaper article about the trial when this boy was caught, President Hinckley recounted the following.
The victim, Victorio Reveillon, a 44 year old former manager of a collections agency, was more interested in salvaging the life of her 19 year old assailant, Ryan Koshin, and exacting any sort of revenge. She pestered prosecutors for information about him, his life, how he was raised and so forth. Then she insisted on offering him a plea deal because she could serve six months in the county jail and be on probation for five years. If he pleaded guilty to second degree assault, had he been convicted of first degree assault.
The charge most fitting for the crime, he could have served 25 years in prison, finally thrown back into society as a middle aged man with no skills or prospects. But this is only half the story. The rest of it. What happened that day, this all played out in court is the truth. The truly remarkable part. According to an account in The New York Post, Cushing carefully and tentatively made his way to Wataru or sat in the courtroom and tearfully whispered an apology.
I’m so sorry for what I did to you. Roll over and stood. And the victim and her assailant embraced weeping. She stroked his head and patted is back. She sobbed and witnesses, including at Times reporter, heard her say. It’s OK. I just want you to make your life the best it can be.
Isn’t that an amazing story, even though it’s been 15 years since I’ve heard it always stays with me as president Gordon B. Hinckley finished telling this story. He said, who can feel anything but admiration for this woman who forgave the young man who might have taken her life? I know this is a delicate and sensitive thing of which I’m speaking that are hardened criminals who may have to be locked up. There are unspeakable crimes such as deliberate murder and rape that justify harsh penalties.
But there are some who could be saved from the long, stultifying years in prison because of an unthoughtful, foolish act. Somehow, forgiveness with love and tolerance accomplishes miracles can happen in no other way. The Great Atonement was the supreme act of forgiveness. The magnitude of that atonement is beyond our ability to completely understand. I know only that it happened and that it was for me and for you.
Thinking about what Jesus Christ did for us makes these words directly from the savior even more impactful, Jesus said you ought to forgive one another for that. Forgive it, not his brother, his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord I, the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive. But if you it is required to forgive all people. And you are to say in your hearts, let God judge between me and the and reward the according to the yds. For some people, this can be a very hard teaching to accept.
I remember talking with one person who had been deeply abused. She felt like if God wanted her to forgive, then she couldn’t accept God. I love what elder Holland recently taught regarding the Lord’s commandment regarding forgiving others.
It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to know what he did not say, he did not say you’re not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you’ve had at the hand of another. Nor did he say in order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance. But notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet on to the path of true healing.
That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, come follow me.
Well, hopefully nobody will throw a turkey at you or me in the coming days, but perhaps practicing forgiving minor grievances can prepare us to forgive egregious offenses, even if it takes a long time, because we’ve developed a forgiving heart, although it’s not always instantaneous and it’s not always easy. Great blessings will come into our lives as we willingly forgive others.