This writer doesn’t presume to know what horrific acts others may have experienced at some time in their lives, but he does know that if there is someone reading this article who is still grieving from a dreadful hurt that was received at the hands of another long ago or even recently, there is still hope.
As previously noted in Part 1 of this article, the key to recovery is finding the strength to pray for the person or persons, whether living or dead, who caused harm to us or our loved ones and releasing that person or persons into God’s ultimate justice and ourselves into God’s tender mercy.
Elder James E. Faust, a now deceased General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once said “Sometimes we carry unhappy feelings about past hurts too long. We
spend too much energy dwelling on things that have passed and cannot be changed. We struggle to close the door and let go of the hurt. If, after time, we can forgive whatever may have caused the hurt, we will tap ‘into a life-giving source of comfort’ through the Atonement, and the ‘sweet peace’ of forgiveness will be ours.”
At another time Elder Faust stated that “Some injuries are so hurtful and deep that healing comes only with help from a higher power and hope for perfect justice and restitution in the next life…. You can tap into that higher power and receive precious comfort and sweet peace.”
Elder Faust’s counsel reminds me of a family experience back in November of 1993 when Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, a now deceased General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presided over and spoke in our local church conference. In the Sunday morning session of that conference, Elder Kikuchi shared with a very large congregation how much of a challenge it had been for him as a young man to come to love Americans because his father had served in WWII and had died when his military aircraft was shot down from the sky while battling against American troops. That challenge was only accomplished through sincere prayer like unto that recommended above by Elder Faust.
One of the persons listening to Elder Kikuchi and squirming all the while was my dad, a WWII Marine who fought against the Japanese military in some horrible battles of historic proportion in the South Pacific. During those dreadful days of combat Dad saw many of his fellow Marines killed by the Japanese enemy, and he likewise dispatched many of those enemies to their own graves, including the exercise of one of his specialties: shooting down Japanese attack aircraft as an ack ack gunner.
After the Sunday morning session of conference, Dad went to Elder Kikuchi and openly confessed how he had struggled with his feelings towards the Japanese people ever since serving as a Marine during World War II. Dad also told Elder Kikuchi that he knew that part of the reason the Elder had been sent here was for Dad’s own healing. Elder Kikuchi smiled and they hugged one another in a true bond of love and forgiveness. Dad was visibly relieved that he could now accept a Japanese man as a brother in Christ.
Perhaps we can see a clue in my father’s experience to help us forgive the “enemy” who harmed us or our loved ones long ago or yesterday. Perhaps we can consider what troubling circumstances that individual or group might have experienced that led them to perform harmful acts to us and others.
I only hope that our Heavenly Father has forgiven me of my own unkind words and actions to so many others. “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us…” May we all learn to truly forgive one another is my solemn hope and prayer in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Bill Sullivan is a resident and guest columnist.