"I've Changed, He's Changed"

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This is an excerpt from Extending Forgiveness by, Virginia H. Pearce.

Many of us carry scars from adolescence. It’s a time of insecurity when the actions and words of our peers can burn holes in our hearts. As the years go by, we generally forget about these feelings, but once in a while, when a name comes up, we find ourselves struggling again.

That’s exactly what happened to my husband, Jim. He felt he had been misused by an acquaintance during those tender years and, as time went by, an unforgiving spot in his heart just kind of solidified. It didn’t mean much; he hardly ever thought of it, in fact.

Fast-forward decades. The offending person became a prominent figure in the community. His name appeared sometimes in the newspapers, and when Jim saw this, I glimpsed the struggle in his heart. He said: “I have to get rid of this. I know in my head that this isn’t the same person. That was fifty years ago. I’ve changed; he’s changed.” I noticed him working to listen to the good things others said about this man. I sensed his struggle to extend forgiveness and am quite certain that he was asking for help from the Lord.

Then Jim was diagnosed with a terminal illness. And one day this man, with whom we had had very little contact over the years, called on the telephone and asked if he could come for a visit. He’d heard that Jim was sick and wanted to see him. Jim didn’t say anything to me about it other than: “So-and-so called and wants to come over this afternoon.”

A short time later, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and invited him in. Then I sat in the living room and listened to the two men talk. It was the sweetest experience. Neither one of them talked about their early years; they didn’t even mention the incidents that they probably both remembered. But they didn’t need to. There was no elephant in the room that day. It was absolutely sweet. The friend had brought a gift. He’d remembered some things about Jim that had guided him in choosing that gift. They chatted pleasantly for a while, and then, just before the man left, Jim said to him, “Would you be willing to give me a blessing?”

This man laid his hands on Jim’s head and gave him the most loving and powerful blessing imaginable. And then they shook hands and embraced one another, and he left. As I shut the door behind him, I realized it was gone. Those hard feelings, all those emotional burdens, had been lifted.

(Virginia H. Pearce, Extending Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013], 29–33).

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