Sabbath Revival: “The Miracle of Forgiveness”

Worth another look if you have already seen it, and a treat for those who haven’t, is today’s September 2007 guest post by Jill.


This is a guest post by Jill, who by posting here is fulfilling one of her mother’s dreams for her– that of being a writer. Although insistent that she didn’t listen to her mom about writing, she is the writer who blogs at Sweet Happy Life and the stay-at-home mom (“to my three lovies”) that is never home because she’s always in the car, running around. When not blogging or carpooling, she loves to read, cook and laugh.

Not long after my youngest son was born, I developed a plantars wart on the ball of my foot. My dermatologist quickly referred me to a podiatrist for treatment sensing that the wart was expansive and deep. Indeed it was.

I knew I was in trouble when the podiatrist, a very soft spoken, gentle man, looked up at me over his glasses and kindly explained that the wart was buried beneath the skin, thriving on the blood vessels and actively destroying healthy tissue. “It may not look bad at first glance,” he calmly stated, “but just below the surface are many branches of the virus quickly spreading.”

We treated the wart quickly and aggressively by burning out the offending tissue with a laser. I simply cannot describe the pain. Having just recovered from a C-section, I truly didn’t understand how such a silly little wart could cause so much discomfort compared to my recent surgery. The laser left a hole in the bottom of my foot which was a half inch wide and a half inch deep. Unfortunately it was located right on the weight bearing ball of my foot, therefore any time I put any pressure on the wound, the pain would intensify. Never before had I realized the sheer amount of nerve endings located on the bottom of the foot.

To make matters worse, in order for the treatment to be most effective, the wound needed to heal from the inside out. Weekly I would make the trip to the doctor where he would clean the wound and open it up, ensuring that the virus did not again enter the blood supply.

My recovery was slow and very painful. Such a small thing, but oh how it tested my patience. It tested my resolve, my strength and my humility.

I have often thought about this wart as I have struggled with another wound. This wound is of the heart. When someone that you love betrays you, the pain is tangible; deep and excruciating. This hurt has left a hole in my heart rather than my foot, but like the wart, it has many branches which feed aggressively from the blood supply I give it.

And while I did not choose this sorrow, just as I did not choose the wart causing virus, it is up to me to seek treatment to heal my weary soul.

Oft times I wish there were a laser beam to cut away the grief in one fell swoop, but matters of the heart are usually more complex, therefore treatment is more delicate, more time-consuming, more complicated.

Yet I have found a salve which seems to lessen the pain if I use it regularly. It is called forgiveness. I have found that I cannot use this balm just once and expect my wounds to heal. Rather, I have to choose to use forgiveness over and over again.

In Doctrine and Covenants 64:10 the Lord says ‘I the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.’ Admittedly, it isn’t easy to forgive those who have hurt us and I struggle with my pride in not wanting to just let it go. I have found that my unwillingness to forgive at times has caused my hurt to increase, the virus to spread, so to speak, to other areas of my heart and mind.

In his book, The Peacegiver, James L. Ferrell teaches us that being forgiving is simply enjoying the full blessing of the atonement. Ferrell states “The Lord, by taking the sins of others upon his head, extends us the same mercy. ‘Upon me let this inequity be’ he pleads. ‘Let me deal with it if there is any dealing to be done. But you, my dear son or daughter, let it go. Let me take it, as I already have done. Forgive.’”

Ferrell goes on to explain that while the Savior is perfect and needs no forgiveness, He has also taught us that ‘inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me’.

“When we withhold forgiveness from others, we are in effect saying that the atonement alone was insufficient to pay for this sin. We are holding out for more. We are finding fault with the Lord’s offering. We are in essence demanding that the Lord repent of an insufficient atonement. So when we fail to forgive another, it is as if we are failing to forgive the Lord.”

I try to remember this in my moments of anguish, realizing that just as the Lord has atoned for my sins, he has also atoned for and claimed the sins of those who have hurt me. He has provided me with the perfect prescription to hasten my healing. For I also realize that the blessings of the atonement are sure and beautiful and as Ferrell concludes “if we grant forgiveness in full, He atones in full for the pain and burdens that have come at others’ hands. He blesses us with His own love, His own appreciation, His own companionship, His own strength to endure.”

When my own burden seems too heavy to bear, I call on the healing powers of the Savior and at once I feel the wounds begin to close, the cells begin to regenerate, the miracle that is forgiveness.

Favorites: The Morning

from, Garret Pruis

It was the middle of “Second Summer” in Arizona, the time of year when the kids had been back in school for well over a month, when what the rest of the world (or so it seemed) was basking in autumn leaves and pumpkin goodies, but when Arizona had simply moved from unbearable heat to barely tolerable heat. Second Summers stifled me. They sucked my energy, my disposition to do good, and any positivity I could muster up.

This particular day/night, the 4-month-old had woken up for her early morning feeding and an a-typical messy diaper. After tucking her round little body back into the crib, I opened the front door to take the smelly diaper out to the trash, and I stopped still, just beyond the front door. It was cool. Low 70s cool. I had forgotten what 70 felt like. I dropped the bag with the diaper in it and sat on the step and breathed, in and out, in and out, replacing my weariness with wonder and gratitude.

At 5:30 this morning, my 2-year-old cried out—a bad dream. She went quickly back to sleep, but I didn’t. So I slipped into my running clothes and set out. Running in the early morning hours makes me feel invisible. Enveloped by darkness, I move through the neighborhood as the houses take turns waking up, one light at a time. And always there is the sky and its subtly shifting hues of gray. It’s almost as though light is reinvented every morning.

Anything seems possible in the early morning. The temperatures could drop. The light could arrive with a pink hue instead of dusky blue. I could be the person I imagine myself to be—before yelling at my kids, before forgetting an appointment, before the craziness of the day and the focus on the task at hand dips my chin down rather than up, toward the sky.

Mary Oliver said it better than I:

Morning Poem by Mary Oliver
from Dream Work (1986)

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

As Oliver says in this poem, in the clarity and hope of the morning, I feel my prayers are heard and answered, most particularly when the thorns in my spirit lead me to end the day before barely trudging. In the Old Testament, David also seemed to find holiness in the morning: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalms 5:3).

Do you have a time of day that is your favorite? A time when you feel more inclined to “look up”?

The Curious Case of the End of the World

Despite being something of a prepper I was not aware that the world was supposed to end in September. Maybe I’m not a member of the right internet forums but I first heard about all the blood moons and accompanying mayhem on Facebook. (“Mormons claim the world will end this weekend!” Hmmm, interesting.)

I’ve always been into preparedness. Even as newlywed I had a closet in our tiny apartment full of food. To me it’s just the same as paying for car or home insurance. I may need it; I may not. Better safe than sorry.

So when people start freaking about the world ending every so often (Y2K, the end of the Mayan calendar, et al), I shrug my shoulders and keep doing what I’m doing. This last bunch of hoopla has been particularly interesting. It used to be that nobody knew what tent cities were. Now all sorts of people are jumping into the conversation. I especially enjoyed the statement issued by the Church that said, in essence, “Cool it, everybody!”.

Lots of people in the Church are laughing and scoffing, “hey, look at those dumb members who are into preparedness! What idiots!” But we all know these are the last days. We have statements like this by Joseph Fielding Smith, “Thus the work of the Lord is advancing, and all these things are signs of the near approach of our Lord. …

The words of the prophets are rapidly being fulfilled, but it is done on such natural principles that most of us fail to see it.

Joel promised that the Lord would pour out his spirit upon all flesh: the sons and daughters should prophesy, old men should dream dreams, and young men should see visions.”

And another quote by Joseph Fielding Smith who is also quoting Matthew chapter 24: Shall we slumber on in utter oblivion or indifference to all that the Lord has given us as warning? I say unto you, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

“But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.”

So the world is going to end and it won’t be that far in the future (next month? Next year? In a decade? In a hundred years?). We all agree on that, right? But what does that mean? That we don’t really need to get super prepared until the General Authorities say we do? Because we will for sure be warned if things are about to fall apart—or will we?

Do we just rely on the Church to save us all? (Because the Church could easily care for 15 million people. Not.) Would the Church even tell its members that the world is about to end, if it were? Or do we have to pray about it and get our own answers? And then we start telling others and pretty soon there’s a ton of people who are quoting us in Sunday School classes around the country.

I guess I’m asking if the Church would tell us if something big is about to happen. Although I can’t imagine the Prophet standing up and saying, “next month there will be a pandemic so you should all buy surgical masks.”  Or maybe something big might not ever go down and it will all be little things that happen bit by bit until one day the Chinese army is marching into our country. Or would the leaders essentially shrug and say, “we told you for a hundred years to be prepared and apparently you never bothered to listen.” And wave goodbye on their way to hide in that big mountain where all the microfilm is kept.

Honestly, I have no idea what the answer is. I guess I’m just waiting with my lamp oil for the bridegroom to return. And by lamp oil I mean lots of rice, sugar and toilet paper.

A chicken named Herman and other favorites…

Today something special happened to me. I made time for my friend. It is not something that I tend to do, but I am learning. We went to lunch and as I watched her tender face light up while she explained a short story she was working on, I wanted to hold the moment- just freeze it there in blissful ice. For two hours we sat under the umbrella of friendship, chewing on our life’s stories with the beef and vegetable soup.

Between the two of us, Veloy has lived longer. She recently turned ninety. Her age is more than her weight of eight-four pounds. She has been a widow for almost two decades. We call each other soul sisters. She loves drama and writing and has won poetry contests. She loves motorcycles and recently took a Harley ride through the mountains to see the autumn leaves. Veloy was a magician’s assistant to her husband for forty years, so she mastered disappearing, being dismembered, reassembled, and keeping a secret. She has traveled the world and caught joy everywhere she went. When her husband passed, she was able to keep her head afloat by selling their vast antique collection – including two horse-drawn hearses, a post office, an original firetruck, a square piano, two trains, and a cannon. She said, “I have had some hard times, but I’ve had a good life. I recently started writing down all the good moments I had in my life. When you focus on those, everything seems to be better and you forget about the hard times.” I asked her to tell me more.


She told me about the pet chicken she had as a child that followed her everywhere she went. It happened to be the same name as her future husband – Herman. She told me about being bitten on the finger by a monkey and having to go to her Dad and trying to explain. She talked about the last days in the hospital with Herman. As I listened to her, I reflected on the favorite moments in my life. Jodi Picoult said, “Do you know how there are moments when the world moves so slowly you can feel your bones shifting, your mind tumbling? When you think that no matter what happens to you for the rest of your life, you will remember every last detail of that one minute forever?” One minute is not long, but it is enough. It is enough time to pull you out of the day to day running and pushing and pulling that we do from the moment our feet hit the ground to when we pull them back under the covers.

It’s called transcendence. They are moments as thin as a razor’s edge.

The first time I tasted a Belgian chocolate in Brugge, my legs went weak and I had to lean against a wall to finish it off because I was so overwhelmed by the taste. It was like all the first kisses of the universe wrapped under gold foil. Once someone I loved ran his finger along my collarbone and it burned like fire. The night before I left Florence, Italy, I sat on an ancient wall with my legs wrapped around my boyfriend and we watched the stars reflect on the Arno river. They seemed like fireworks because my tears blended the light and water like a watercolor painting. I’ve awakened to find my toddler’s face close to mine and the morning lavender light highlighting his innocence and sleep so perfectly that I never wanted the moment to end. I remember one particular favorite moment when I had finished doing a show as a second-rate actor and as I was driving away from the venue, I had the distinct feeling that if I turned left my life would go one way (toward a relationship) and if I turned right, my life would go another direction (to the unknown), and I got to choose. I paused at the stop-sign and in the beauty of that gift from God and got to ask myself what I really wanted. I turned left and have been with that man every day since for the last twenty-three years.

I don’t seem to put much importance on the quotidian tasks of my life, but if I could string my favorite moments together over the last (almost) forty-seven years, I think I would see that my inner life was more magical than anything I could have dreamed of when I was young. My inner and outer lives run on parallel tracks, both with different destinations. When they do happen to cross, the moment hangs in the air like a round ripe apple on a tree. I get to pick it and put it in my collection basket. (As Veloy entitled her winning poem), I become a “memory merchant” and like Veloy, I could say, “It’s been a beautiful life.”

Remember, they are called moments because they do not last very long, but the “small silent moments are the true story-making events of our lives.” (Douglas Coupland)

Describe to me one of your favorite moments (and make it last):