Sometimes we don’t make a difference in the lives of the people we wish we could. But it’s okay, because sometimes we make a difference to others without even knowing it. The ones I wish would read this and get something from it probably never will. But maybe it will still mean something to someone else.

Daylight. A song by Shinedown on their new album Planet Zero. When I first heard it last year I thought, “Well, Shinedown has made yet another song I feel completely.” How do they do that? So many of their songs feel like something I could have written because it’s something I’ve been through or something I’ve dealt with or something I’ve felt so strongly, too. Right now, Daylight means even more to me than ever. I’m coming to understand the importance of these lines:

It's amazing what the hard times can reveal,
Like who shows up, who walks away and who's for real.

How often do we let anger, selfishness or pettiness cause us to walk away from someone? Even when someone ends up suffering because of their own mistakes or sins, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to turn our back on them. I’m sure as hell not perfect, but I try to live my life the way Christ did—the way he would want me to live. Christ spent His life among the sinners. He didn’t spend it with the “righteous” people because those so-called righteous people were just a bunch of hypocrites. So, He walked among the “unclean”, teaching them and making a difference in their lives. I have seen the way His light and Spirit work among “sinners” today, teaching them and making a difference in their lives, just like Christ did when He was on the earth.

So why should I turn my back on them? I’m not talking about people who are toxic or continually abusive. It’s okay to have boundaries or walk away from people who refuse to acknowledge their own toxic and abusive behavior—who refuse to do anything about it. I’m talking about not giving into anger. I’m talking about not giving into selfishness. I’m talking about forgiveness. I’m talking about being there for people who have made mistakes—even huge ones—when they acknowledge it and are doing their best to change and overcome. I’m sure that’s what Christ would have done. I’m sure because that is what He did time after time after time.

Everyone deserves love and compassion. Everyone deserves another chance. Everyone deserves someone who will be there for them and have their back through difficult times. Like Daylight says, those difficult times reveal who truly loves and cares about you, who’s there for you, and it reveals who never really cared about you, who’s not for you and who’s just fake. As hard as it is, sometimes we all need that truth.

I’m grateful for the people who have truly been there for me. And I’m grateful I get the opportunity to show the ones I love that I’m there for them. I’m grateful I can be the daylight in their darkness. Because they are worth it.


What Forgiveness Has Done For Me

Forgiveness. I won’t preach it to you. I, for one, have struggled with it at times in my own life. What I can do is share my experiences with it. I already wrote about one. You can read it here.

I think there are misconceptions about forgiveness. One is the notion of forgive and forget. I read an article once by a member of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In it Steve F. Gilliland says that in most cases, short of brain surgery, it’s not possible to forget what someone did to you. That’s not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is being able to remember something, but not have the same feelings associated with it. Just because you haven’t forgotten what someone did to you doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven.

Another misconception is that forgiveness means continuing to have a relationship with someone who is abusive or toxic. Elder Jeffery R. Holland put this myth to rest when he said, “It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what [Christ] did not say. He did not say, ‘You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.’ Nor did He say, ‘In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.’” There are abusive and toxic people that I know longer have in my life. That is to protect the mental and physical health of myself and my children. When I think of the things they things they did to me or the toxic behavior they continuously exhibited I no longer feel anger, hurt, sadness or fear. It’s possible to forgive and also have boundaries or cut ties altogether.

I’ve heard some people say that forgiveness doesn’t help you, it only helps the person who hurt you—as if forgiving means you are okay with what someone did or don’t think there need to be any consequences. I don’t think this is true. Forgiveness lifts the burden of pain off your shoulders—at least it has for me. Life has been a struggle. I recently wrote about a curve ball boulder that hit me. Since then, it feels as if boulder after boulder after boulder has been dropped on me. Some might say that I should be angry, but anger doesn’t help me or anyone around me. Forgiveness and giving that anger over to God has helped me understand more than I ever have before what it means to give my burden to God. Is there still some pain, sadness and uncertainty? Yes. But I feel lighter and more capable. I still believe in consequences. I can believe in them and still forgive, still have that burden removed.

For me, forgiveness turned an enemy into a friend (my previous story), and it has also allowed me to continue going despite incredibly difficulty. It has brought me incredible peace and strength. If forgiveness has made a difference in your life, I’d love to hear about it.

Learning How to Stop Holding Grudges

Sometimes we learn from our own mistakes and experiences. Sometimes we learn from other’s mistakes and experiences. One thing I learned from someone else was how holding onto grudges and pain from the past destroys joy. I learned I don’t want to hold onto grudges.

There’s this woman I knew who could hold a grudge like nobody’s business. She was the queen of grudges! There were times she would talk to me about things people said to her in high school that really hurt her. She would talk about it as if it were yesterday and still held onto all that hurt, pain, resentment and anger 40 years later! I consistently saw her using up so much energy holding grudges and holding onto things that had happened long ago. I saw how it turned her into this bitter, unhappy person. I realized life is too short and precious to waste any of my time or energy on that. That doesn’t mean I never get hurt or upset, but I let things go and move on. This has helped me maintain a better state of mind and more happiness and peace in my life.

This goes hand in hand with forgiveness and what forgiveness is and is not. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. I once heard someone say that short of brain surgery there’s no way you can just forget a hurtful or horrible thing someone has done to you. What it does mean is that the original feeling associated with that person dissipates until we no longer feel it.

Forgiveness does NOT mean going back to or staying in an abusive or toxic relationship. The relationship I had with this woman was very toxic and unhealthy. Since getting out of that relationship I am a much happier, more independent and confident person. I think remembering what this person did to me is important in keeping me from going back and getting abused and misused again. However, when I think of this person I have no negative feelings. I never wish anything bad on her. I don’t feel sad, angry or hurt when I think of her, and I even pray for her and those around her. I have forgiven, moved on and also kept my mental and emotional well-being in tact.

Holding on to things can eat away at us and feeds into anxiety, depression and OCD. Talking things out or being able to step away from our own self-interests to look at things from someone else’s perspective are great ways to move on and rid ourselves of grudges. This also helps with forgiveness, which really can do wonders for our mental health.

The Power of Forgiveness

Mental illness is a heavy topic. Sometimes it can get overwhelming and depressing. So I thought I’d take a break today and write about another topic that is important to me.

Many years ago I was asked to give a talk in church about forgiveness. Several years after that I had to give a lesson on it in Relief Society, a class where some of the women at my church meet to learn about and discuss the gospel. Think God was trying to tell me something? I know He was. Forgiveness is something I struggle with—being able to get over the pain or hurt others have caused me. I know I struggle with it, and it is something I’m constantly working on and praying for help with. When I was asked to give a talk on it all those years ago, a story from my past popped into my head—one I thought about often, but it was the first time I realized that it truly was a story about the power of forgiveness. A story about me and a girl named Sarah.


Sarah was pink. For those of you who knew her, you know what I’m talking about! She was pink, frilly, girly, outgoing, flirtatious—nothing like me. We were as different as two people possibly could be. The only thing we had in common was that we were both girls, and we both played the flute. So it wasn’t surprising that we quickly became rivals in our junior high band class. One year I sat first chair, Sarah sat second. The next year, she got to play the piccolo, and I didn’t. Our dislike of each other only grew, and before long we weren’t just rivals. We were enemies.

I remember how happy—like giddy happy—I was when my sophomore year of high school came because it meant one year in band without Sarah; she was a year younger than me. Unfortunately, she wasn’t as far away as I thought. Sometime that year, I discovered some flute players I had met and made friends with, who had gone to a different junior high, took from the same private teacher as Sarah. Apparently, she had told their flute teacher bad things about me who had, in turn, told them.

“We thought you were going to be a horrible flute player, and that we wouldn’t like you,” they said. “But now we know Sarah didn’t know what she was talking about. You’re a good flute player, and we do like you!”

I was glad they hadn’t let their flute teacher’s assessment of someone she had never met before influence them, that they had decided to be friends with me anyway, but it was not cool that that’s how they had found out about me. Rather than being mature and just brushing it off, I hypocritically went and trashed-talked Sarah to some of my other friends.

My junior year of high school came, and Sarah came with it. We were in band together again, and the truth was that she was a better flute player than me. She sat first chair, I sat second. It was a blow to my ego and just another difficulty for me to deal with in the midst of my horrible depression. One day that year I got to school to find a note tucked into my band locker. The writer of the note said they had seen me crying the day before, and it made them sad because they hated seeing other people sad. It said they hoped I felt better, and if I ever needed to vent or just needed a hug they would be there for me. It was signed from Sarah. And just like that, years of distrust, dislike, and rivalry completely washed away. Sarah was still pink, and we were still as different as two people could be, but we became good friends.

girlfriends-2213259_1920We never hung out outside of school because we had very different kinds of friends, but at school, we were always there for each other. If I ever needed a kind word or a little boost to help me out on a rough day, I would go to Sarah. Likewise, if she ever felt down or was having a problem, she came to me. Sarah became someone I grew to love and always felt grateful for. She was a light in my life.

Three years after graduating high school, when I was away at college, my mom called me. It was finals week, and I had just completed my last test. My mom told me that Sarah had been killed in a car accident. I’ll never forget the way my heart plummeted, the way my blood turned to ice. After I got off the phone I just started balling. I couldn’t believe Sarah was gone. She had meant so much to me. She still means so much to me.

I’ve often thought about Sarah, about our story, since high school. And it was when I had to give that talk in church that I truly understood that ours was a story of forgiveness. I had never looked at it that way before, but I realized if she hadn’t been able to forgive me, she would never have given me that note in the first place. And had I not been able to forgive her, I never would have trusted her and probably would have just thrown her note away without a second thought. We’d both behaved in a non-Christ-like attitude towards each other, but luckily, we had both been able to forgive each other, and look what came of it! Two people who were so different, who disliked each other so much and had became bitter enemies, became very good friends who loved and cared about each other.

While I still struggle at times with forgiveness I’m so grateful for the lesson in my own life about what powerful things can happen when we do follow Christ’s example and commandment to forgive.