Forgiveness is a strange concept to many of us. It’s straightforward, yet can be very difficult at times. Forgiving others is hard enough, but often we find it impossible to forgive ourselves. Whether it’s out of insecurity or a need to receive the pity of others, we hold things over our own heads, sometimes for years and years. Forgiving ourselves, however, is a commandment.
In the Doctrine and Covenenants, the Lord commanded,
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10)
“All men” means exactly that, all men. This includes ourselves. The Lord has also said that if we are not willing to forgive, He will not forgive us. The same applies to forgiving ourselves. We are commanded to do it, and we must do it if we expect forgiveness from the Lord.
If you truly feel like you have not been forgiven, go to your Heavenly Father in prayer. Ask for forgiveness and for a confirmation of it from the Spirit. When we are forgiven, Satan does not want us to recognize it. He would rather have us feel miserable and incapable of doing good. A lot of the time, when we have done something wrong we convince ourselves that that means we cannot do any more good, that we cannot help someone. This is not true, but when Satan gets us to think that way, he hinders us from doing the good that we are capable of doing.
This is partially why refusing to forgive oneself is such a grievous thing to the Lord. We use it to excuse ourselves from the Lord’s work. We use it as an excuse to be idle, lazy, or apathetic. This is not the Lord’s way. The Lord’s way is to forgive ourselves, or others, and move on, doing good to others.
In the most recent General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles advised,
It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late.
Refusing to forgive ourselves is denying the healing power of Jesus Christ’s atonement. I echo Elder Holland’s counsel, to you and myself, to not procastinate the fellowship of the Lord’s labor. He has work for us to do, and if we are carrying unncecessary weight upon our shoulders, we need to remove it and give it to Him. Let Him take your burdens so you can work to your fullest.