Sunday, February 23, 2014

Forgiving your abuser

"If there be any who nurture in their hearts the poisonous brew of enmity toward another, I plead with you to ask the Lord for strength to forgive. This expression of desire will be of the very substance of your repentance. It may not be easy, and it may not come quickly. But if you will seek it with sincerity and cultivate it, it will come. And even though he whom you have forgiven continues to pursue and threaten you, you will know you have done what you could to effect a reconciliation. There will come into your heart a peace otherwise unattainable." (Matthew 6:14–15).

Some of the feelings I struggled with forgiving Grandpa was I felt like forgiving him would condone the behavior. I also felt like forgiving him would forfeit justice. These are not so. 

"I would like to make it clear that forgiveness of sins should not be confused with tolerating evil. In fact, in the Joseph Smith Translation, the Lord said, “Judge righteous judgment.” The Savior asks us to forsake and combat evil in all its forms, and although we must forgive a neighbor who injures us, we should still work constructively to prevent that injury from being repeated. A woman who is abused should not seek revenge, but neither should she feel that she cannot take steps to prevent further abuse. A businessperson treated unfairly in a transaction should not hate the person who was dishonest but could take appropriate steps to remedy the wrong. Forgiveness does not require us to accept or tolerate evil. It does not require us to ignore the wrong that we see in the world around us or in our own lives. But as we fight against sin, we must not allow hatred or anger to control our thoughts or actions." (Forgiveness Will Change Bitterness to Love)

It was especially hard after hearing and thinking along these lines, "To earn forgiveness, one must make restitution. That means you give back what you have taken or ease the pain of those you have injured."
(The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness)

There were many times Brad and I would talk about how I would feel if the day came that my Grandpa joined the church and was baptized. I always said that I wouldn't be able to support it unless he came to me, acknowledging the abuse he had put me through, seeking my forgiveness. I often felt as though I needed restitution. By the time he announced his baptism I realized that restitution would never come. I needed to let go of that expectation.

As I accepted that fact that my Grandpa was never going to seek my forgiveness, let alone acknowledge that he has abused me, that peace came. For most who have been abused, restitution most likely won't happen in this life. Not that I wish my Grandpa ill-will, but it was easier for me to let go of those feelings longing for restitution, I reminded myself that God will be the ultimate judge. If Grandpa never truly repents for what he has done to his family then I know when judgment comes he will truly morn for what he had done.

“Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37).

(Gospel Principles, The Final Judgment)

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