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Epiphanies Through Songwriting: Some Thoughts on Forgiving

Mar 26, 2014

Sometimes I wonder why words on certain topics spring to mind and demand to be written into lyrics. In some cases, I never find out, but today was different.

The insistent topic du jour was “forgiving others.” This wasn’t a topic I had intended to approach. In general, I’m not an unforgiving person. I don’t hold grudges. I wish I could say this is a virtue, but alas, it’s mostly due to a poor memory.

“In such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable.”

(Elizabeth Bennett, in “Pride and Prejudice”)

Today the Lord wanted me to learn something–to make me see the subject in a new light. As I pondered and studied and wordsmithed (is that a word?) and followed bunny trails of thought, it was the bunny trails that led me to the enlightenment He intended me to find. Let me try to put into words the insights that came mostly through feelings:

Suppose my neighbor offends me. There is hurt done on many levels: the one offended, presumably the innocent party, hurts; the one offending suffers damage to his soul, i.e., hurts; and the Savior of us all bears the hurt for us both.

The scriptures tell us that the Savior has “borne our griefs and carried our afflictions…” That He suffered “the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” So when offense is given, or when offense is taken, the Savior has suffered for that offense. He has felt that offense. He has paid for that offense.

What if I then demand restitution and apology from my neighbor, instead of forgiving freely and without condition? Could it be that I am demanding payment beyond what my Savior has already given? Am I, in effect, saying that the sacrifice He offered is not enough? That I require my mortal “pound of flesh” in addition to the flesh and blood of Christ?

And if I remain angry and bitter, refusing to forgive, thereby causing damage to my own soul and perhaps giving pain to my neighbor, I add the weight of all this additional hurt to the already incomprehensible load the Savior has borne. In the worst extreme, if I then cast stones, however figuratively, at my neighbor (because, of course, he deserves it!), doesn’t the Savior feel those stones and carry that pain as well?

It may be difficult–perhaps nearly impossible–to forgive my neighbor for his own sake; maybe I don’t love myself well enough to forgive for the peace of my own soul; but given the choice, I would not add one tear to the tears my Savior wept, or one ounce to the load He carried, or one drop to the blood He shed.

What I might not be capable of doing for my neighbor or for myself, I can and will do for Him.

I hope that made some sense. On re-reading it, I find that the feelings were much more potent than my words, but words are all I have.

And that’s doubly true… the lyrics are still just a text with no tune, and still in the editing stages, so no new song yet. I should probably have waited for it to be finished before trying to express these thoughts, but I wanted to put them in writing while they were still fresh to drive the lesson home in my heart. Maybe someone out there needs it as well, and can be the happier for learning my lesson with me.

Happy Wednesday!

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