WHY ARE REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS SO IMPORTANT?
By now, after reading through my posts in this series, I hope you have recognized how connected the family is with religion and God. I also hope that I have been able to show that social scientists are recognizing the importance of the "ideal family setting" and doctrines that are explained in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". One of the things the Family Proclamation states is that "successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities" (The Family para 7).
"Repentance and forgiveness have historically been regarded by social scientists as religious issues only. However, since the 1990s, repentance and forgiveness have become increasingly prominent in professional literature. Mental health experts acknowledge that it is impossible to address emotional and physical well-being without considering the relevance of repentance and forgiveness" (Hawkins et al 202).
Repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand and they are important in our families because they are gospel principles set forth by the Lord Himself. "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ" (The Family para 7). The Lord's Atonement can not only heal us from wounds inflicted upon us by our sins or illnesses, but it can also heal our wounds that are caused from broken family relationships through the principles of repentance and forgiveness.
Repentance is a process of change and change is necessary for us to unlock our full potential as sons and daughters of God. "Elder Maxwell taught that repentance is 'a Greek word which means a change of mind, such as changing one's view of himself, God, the universe, life, others, and so on'. In attempting to repent, said Elder Maxwell, 'we are actually progressing toward what Paul called the mind of Christ'" (Hawkins et al 204).
I want to compare a social science view of an "apology" or repentance with the process of repentance as it is outlined in gospel context.
As you can see, social science and religion are on the same page on how to apologize and change (in other words, repent) when mistakes have been made, especially when those mistakes involve someone else's feelings.
But it's not all about repentance. Repentance and forgiveness go hand in hand, so let's move on to forgiveness...what it means and why it's important in family life.
Forgiveness can be a hard pill to swallow, especially when it involves forgiving someone who has hurt you physically, emotionally, mentally, or sexually. It's hard work and it takes time. It's also something that we need to use our agency to do. No one can force us to forgive someone, but it we do the hard work and have patience in the process, forgiveness can be a freeing experience. Forgiveness is "a voluntary act that gives meaning to the wound and frees the injured person from the ills of bitterness and resentment" (Hawkins et al 205).
How does the process of forgiveness work and how do you know if you have truly forgiven someone for hurt they have caused you? Social science has examined different models of the process of forgiveness, but a 5-step process of forgiveness highlighted by E. Worthington in the book Five Steps to Forgiveness: The Art and Science of Forgiving is the model of forgiveness that my textbook chose, so that is what I will be highlighting in this post today.
"All victims need to be relieved of the burden of resentment...One way to conceptualize the one-way, or unilateral, forgiveness process is to repent on behalf of the offender. [This does not imply] that the victim is taking the burden of repentance away from the offender. That is not possible--the responsibility will forever remain with the offender.
Before I close this post, I want to touch on the power of prayer and how it can be used to sanctify family relationships and complete the repentance forgiveness processes.
"When people perceive something as sacred, it changes the way they treat it" (Hawkins et al 196). Through prayer, repentance, and forgiveness we can view our family relationships as sacred which, in turn, changes the way we treat those relationships. As we include God as an active member in our family relationships, we increase our desire to make those relationships work, and also increase our protection against Satan who does not want our family relationships to work.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "When you don't feel like praying, that's when you need to pray the most?" It may seem cliche, but it's true. Prayer is a powerful tool that can soften heart and de-escalate tense situations. It's hard to yell at someone when you are kneeling in prayer with them. I love this quote from President Ezra T. Benson about how prayer can strengthen our families:
Are you sensing a pattern here? In all of these posts I have written, what is the one thing that connects each of them together?
Guys...it's all about the Savior. He provided the way for us to repent, to forgive, to heal. It is through Him that we are able to be with our families forever and it is also through Him that our earthly familial experiences can be strengthened and sanctified. I am so grateful for my testimony of the Savior and for the choices I have made to make Him the center of my life. It has made all the difference in my relationships as it has helped me know when to apologize, repent, and forgive.
Hawkins, A. J., Dollahite, D. C., & Draper, T. (2012). Successful marriages and families: Proclamation principles and research perspectives. Provo, UT: BYU Studies and School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.
WHY ETERNAL FAMILIES?
This page is dedicated to sharing information regarding God's plan for families, how we can strengthen our family relationships, and how the Savior can heal even the most broken of hearts.