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.