Sometimes in life others will hurt or disappoint us. Whether their actions were accidental or on purpose, we are the only ones that can choose how we will act or how we will feel. We can choose to let things bother us and get upset or we can choose to let things go and forgive others. If we choose to focus on a problem, it can seem worse or bigger than it really is. We start to see only the negative.
President Boyd K. Packer talked about forgiveness this past General Conference. (Briefly tell the story from his talk about the man who lost his wife and had to learn to forgive and "leave it alone".)
President Packer taught that when we refuse to forgive or "leave it alone", "that attitude is somewhat like a man being hit by a club. Offended, he takes up a club and beats himself over the head with it all the days of his life. How foolish! How sad! That kind of revenge is self-inflicting. If you have been offended, forgive, forget it, and leave it alone."
When we are hurt by someone, we may have feelings of anger and hurt. We might feel like seeking for revenge or hurting them back. (As you talk about this, fill a backpack with five heavy objects--books, rocks, etc.--labeled: hurt, anger, resentment, revenge, and hate.)
Have each family member take turns carrying this heavy load. Explain that carrying these feelings is an even greater burden than carrying the heavy bag. When we forgive, we can forget all these feelings and are free from the burden of carrying them.
-Who is hurt the most when we choose not to forgive? (ourselves)
-What difference does it make when we forgive? (We can let go of angry and hurt feelings and be happy instead. We can also be forgiven of our own sins.)
Read D&C 64:10
-Why do you think the Lord commanded us to forgive everyone? (Forgiveness allows us to feel peace and happiness. We may not understand why others do things that are unkind, but we are responsible for our own actions and decisions. When we are holding grudges or feeling upset with others, we can't invite the Spirit to be with us. By forgiving others and letting go of hard feelings, we are able to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost and focus on things that are truly important.)
Make a simple obstacle course. Have each person go through it while looking backwards, then let everyone go through it looking forward. Discuss how doing the obstacle course while looking forward is like forgiveness. When we forgive, we can forget about the hurt feelings and problems of the past and focus on the future, which makes getting through life much easier.
-We will all have times in our lives when we are hurt by things that others do or say, but we can decide for ourselves how we will act. When we choose to forgive and let things go, we can find peace and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help us in our lives. Our lives will be much happier when we choose to forgive.
-Read this story from the June 2009 Friend