By Jennifer H
“Why is it so hard to let go?” I found myself wondering as I turned thoughts and memories over and over again for the umpteenth time, attempting to make sense of them. For almost three months, I had been trying to accept something incredibly painful that had happened in my life and move on from it. Without going into too much detail on the whole thing, I’ll just say that my best friend had done something that really upset me. And, to be quite honest, it scared me how affected I was by his mistake.
I come from a strong Christian background and the few people I confided in told me it was going to be okay. They told me to trust in Christ and it would all work out. Since this is what I had been taught all my life, it made sense in my mind. But somehow I couldn’t resolve it in my heart. I thought “even if I ‘forgive’ him things will never be the same. Christ can do a lot—but even He can’t fix the past.” Nothing that anyone said to make me feel better helped for very long.
However, as I turned to God for a way to reconcile the past and the present, a different picture emerged. It didn’t come all at once — it took hours, days, and months of sincere study, prayer, and contemplation. Eventually, I learned that while, yes, the atonement allows us forgiveness of our sins, it also heals us of our pains and enables us to be better versions of ourselves. In my case that meant that it could empower me to forgive; this enabling power is Christ’s promise. But I still struggled. God has said that when we repent of our mistakes He will “remember them no more.” But, somehow it still wasn’t good enough for me. I would continue to remember my friend’s mistake.
One day, however, I came across a scripture that struck me to my core. It’s the personal account of a prophet who kneels down, asks God for forgiveness and is told by the voice of the Lord that his sins are forgiven. The prophet recounts, “I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.” He proceeds to ask God how it is possible that his conscience could be washed so clean. The Lord answers, “Because of thy faith in Jesus Christ whom thou hast never before heard nor seen; wherefore go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.”
Something clicked for me when I read that scripture. I realized that God does not lie—which seems obvious. But implicit in my doubt that the mistakes of the past could be erased was a lack of faith that Christ’s atonement was real. How many times had he promised forgiveness to the penitent? I knew Christ’s words, but I hadn’t truly believed them. When I read this scripture it felt like God was speaking directly to me. I resolved to try harder to build my faith and really accept the gift of Christ’s atonement in my own life so that I could forgive.
It took several more months of deep anguish, prayer, study, and work. Sometimes it felt like I had forgiven my friend, but then I would relapse into doubt. Day after day I prayed to know that I was ready to let it go.
Finally, one Monday morning, I felt that the time had come. Nearly six months after the fact, my faith was strong enough that I was ready to tell him. As I sat down to write my friend a letter, tears welled up in my eyes. Without the Savior, without the scriptures, without the ability to pray and receive answers to prayer, I never would have made it to this point. Overwhelmed by gratitude and love, I set my pen to paper and carefully wrote the most fulfilling words I have ever written: I forgive you.