This is an excerpt from Extending Forgiveness by, Virginia H. Pearce.
The first story is about a woman who found herself sitting in the reception room of a lawyer’s office several years ago. She was consumed with hate. She’d been wronged by a man, and she was here to make him pay. She wanted to do to him what he had done to her. She wanted to take from him his money, his energy, his time, and, most of all, his façade. She wanted him to suffer as he had made her suffer. And she knew, as she was sitting there, that the law was on her side.
She later reported that as she was waiting in the lawyer’s office, she was preparing a Church assignment. She had a lesson to give the following Sunday, and she was reading from the New Testament, making notes and outlining her thoughts, when she came upon this passage from Ephesians: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
She later described her reaction to the words: “I can never verbalize the spiritual power of that message to my heart. It was as if all the teachings of the gospel came together into one great whole, and in that instant I could see through a glass clearly rather than ‘through a glass, darkly’” (1 Corinthians 13:12). She continued to report: “My feelings for this man did not change. What he had done to me did not change, but I changed. In that moment of instant awareness, I felt for the first time in my life that the Savior could save me.”
The story didn’t end there, however. Things continued to get worse. The man in question became intent on making her life as miserable as possible. It got to the point where even her health was practically ruined. She had pneumonia, she couldn’t function, and it seemed like everything was failing.
One day, in the course of a conversation, her mother said, “We will forgive him.” It was another reminder of a truth that would become more than just a statement. It would be a long journey, but my friend kept forgiveness as the goal. It was in her prayers as well as her scripture reading. She looked up every scripture in the Topical Guide under the heading of Forgiveness. She read them each many, many times until they slowly began to make sense in her world, helping her to know what her responsibility was and what the Savior’s responsibility is. She enlisted the support of her amazing parents, who would listen to her for hours on end and always help her focus on her goal to forgive.
One day, three years later, she was walking down the street when suddenly a feeling of lightness came over her. And the words that came to her mind were the words that she had wanted to say for three years but hadn’t been able to. At that moment, she said them out loud. She said, “I forgive him.” Remember, it took three years for her to get to that point, but at last she was able to say, “I forgive him.”
What’s more, that feeling has lasted. It has been many years, but she reports, “Even now, sometimes when I go to the temple, I put his name on the prayer roll, asking the Lord to bless him that good things will happen in his life.”
(Virginia H. Pearce, Extending Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013], 4–8).