Freedom of Forgiveness
by Sarah Haliday
"Everybody makes mistakes.
Everybody has those days.
Everybody knows what what I'm talkin' 'bout.
Everybody gets that way."
We can all relate to the inspiring words of Hannah Montana. Nobody's perfect. Not a single one of us. We all make mistakes. Even though we all know this, it's hard for us to move on and forgive ourselves. We are our own biggest critics, but we need to let go of our burdens and forgive ourselves.
Yesterday, at the girls home I work at, one of the girls gave a really moving presentation about forgiving ourselves. She gave us each a dirty penny and one by one we washed it in vinegar until it was clean. As we did this, we talked about what we struggle forgiving ourselves for. As I thought about what I could share, a thousand things popped into my head. Like many others, I was my own worst critic and didn't know which of the many things I should share. As I contemplated it more, I decided to talk about how I blame myself for the poor relationship I had with one of my sisters all the way throughout high school. I was really mean to her. Not just the typical sisterly arguing stuff, but full on words of hate and cruelty. I've really enjoyed strengthening our relationship now and I absolutely lover her to death, but I still hold this regret in my heart that our relationship could have been better.
Forgiving others is hard, but forgiving ourselves is even harder. We hold on to our imperfections and don't want to let go. This is not of God. God wants us to feel the liberating freedom of being regret and guilt free. Whatever you're struggling with forgiving yourself for, I beg with you to let it go. The prophets and apostles have continuously instructed us that forgiveness brings us peace and joy. "It may take time to heal from the experience and the pain of past sins, but because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement, that healing can come. Sometimes it takes time and effort to forgive yourself, but as you do, the memory will help remind you not to sin again" (New Era, March 2016). The Atonement is most beautiful gift that we could have received and if we don't take advantage of it, what does that make us? Healing is a process, but as we reach out for help from our loving Heavenly Father and older brother Jesus Christ, it's not only possible, but liberating.
I know that as I have tried to apply the Atonement more in my life, I have found that the relationship that I have with my sister has become more meaningful and we're closer now than we ever were before. As I've tried forgiving myself, I've found relief which allows me to have more joy in my life and put my best foot forward when strengthen not only the relationship I have with her, but those around me as well. I still struggle sometimes with guilt, but as long as I keep pushing forward and trying my hardest, I know that it will all work out.