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In new video, President Russell M. Nelson encourages forgiveness on Palm Sunday

Sharing his own story of seeking forgiveness and being forgiven, President Nelson counsels to remove unforgiving poison from the soul

Following the concluding session of the April 2023 general conference on Sunday, President Russell M. Nelson released a special video to mark the beginning of Holy Week. In the video, he speaks of the forgiveness the Savior offered while still on the cross.

“How is it possible in His time of excruciating agony for Jesus Christ to ask His Father to forgive His tormentors?” President Nelson asked. 

By asking for forgiveness of those who crucified Him, the Savior “taught us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and even to pray for those who despitefully use us,” the prophet said. 

President Nelson shared his own story of seeking forgiveness from a family whose two daughters died after President Nelson operated on them many years ago. He said it took nearly 60 years to have the opportunity to meet in person with that family — the Hatfields — and ask them for forgiveness in person. 

“The Spirit of the Lord prevailed. They forgave me. And it proved to be a turning point in their lives and in mine,” he said of the meeting. 

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But not forgiving others can be detrimental to the soul, he explained. 

“There is nothing easy about forgiving those who have disappointed us, hurt us, cheated us, or spread false rumors about us,” President Nelson said. “However, not forgiving others is poison for us. Grudges weigh us down. Angry disagreements separate us. Animosity and hatred can divide families.”

At the video’s conclusion, President Nelson asks that individuals think about someone in their life whom they have not forgiven. 

“I can think of no more fitting way to honor the Lord Jesus Christ this Easter. I promise that as you forgive, the Savior will relieve you of anger, resentment, and pain. The Prince of Peace will bring you peace.”

Read the full text of President Nelson’s video below.

Video transcript

As we approach Easter, my thoughts have lingered on one of the last moments of the Savior’s mortal ministry. As He was being crucified on Calvary’s cross, the Redeemer of all mankind uttered these timeless words:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

How is it possible in His time of excruciating agony for Jesus Christ to ask His Father to forgive His tormentors? 

And yet, on the cross, Jesus did exactly that. He practiced what He had preached. He taught us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and even to pray for those who despitefully use us. 

I know from firsthand experience that forgiveness blesses both the forgiver and the forgiven. 

Three children born to Ruth and Jimmy Hatfield suffered from congenital heart disease. They sought my help as a heart surgeon for their two daughters, Laural Ann and Gay Lynn. I was heartbroken when both girls died after I had operated on them. Understandably, Ruth and Jimmy were shattered. And they blamed me. 

For almost six decades, I was haunted by this situation. I grieved for the Hatfields and tried to establish contact with them several times, but without success. 

A few years ago, I reached out again to the Hatfield family. Much to my relief, this time, they were willing to meet with me. On bended knee, I poured out my heart to them. The Spirit of the Lord prevailed. They forgave me. And it proved to be a turning point in their lives and in mine. Now I treasure the friendship I share with the Hatfields. 

Just think about their courage and humility. They were willing to let go of old hurts. The Spirit of forgiveness released them from burdens they had carried for nearly 60 years. 

There is nothing easy about forgiving those who have disappointed us, hurt us, cheated us, or spread false rumors about us. However, not forgiving others is poison for us. Grudges weigh us down. Angry disagreements separate us. Animosity and hatred can divide families. 

And yet, the Savior’s counsel is clear: “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Forgiving others does not mean condoning sinful or criminal behavior. And it certainly does not mean staying in abusive situations. 

But, when we choose to forgive others, we allow the Lord to remove the poison from our souls. We permit Him to soothe and soften our hearts, so we can see others, especially those who have wronged us, as children of God, and as our brothers and sisters. 

Every Easter, we rejoice in the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the epitome of forgiveness. 

My dear friends, I invite you prayerfully to consider if there is someone whom you should forgive. Will you free yourself from a grudge you may be harboring? I can think of no more fitting way to honor the Lord Jesus Christ this Easter. I promise that as you forgive, the Savior will relieve you of anger, resentment, and pain. The Prince of Peace will bring you peace. 

Jesus Christ is risen. He loves you. And because of Him, you can experience the joy and miracle of forgiveness. 

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