Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Negative Peer Pressure - I Nephi 8:28

“And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them: and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.”

Have you ever felt the “scoffing” of friends?  Well, I believe “scoffing” to Nephi is the same as “peer pressure” is to you, today.  I’m sure you’ve all felt peer pressure many times in your life.  The peer pressure you face today is relentless and it comes from every angle.  Who can turn on the TV, go to a movie, listen to music, read a magazine, surf the web or peruse YouTube without being influenced by “Peer Pressure?”  It screams:  “Look like this,” “Drink this and be cool,” “Eat this and look fabulous,” “Buy some of this and be funny.”  Sometimes resisting peer pressure is easy because the pressure isn’t that close to you … in other words, it may not be hard to resist drugs and alcohol if the only place you see it is in the media.  But it’s a lot harder to resist when those peer pressures come directly from friends and close acquaintances.  One of the greatest moments of “peer pressure” I ever experienced when I was younger happened just before I left on my mission. 

For the two years prior to my mission I worked at KSL-TV as a cameraman.  My responsibility there was to run camera for the TV shows produced at KSL such as the Newscasts each night and other programs like the BYU and Utah football/basketball Coaches shows, Days of ’47 Parade, Sporting Events such as BYU/Utah/Utah State Basketball games, Music and the Spoken Word, and (don’t laugh) Romper Room.  It was a great job for someone as young as I was and it gave me a great start to my career.  While I was at KSL I became best friends with a guy I met there.  We worked closely almost every day and both had a passion for our work.  We really tried to be the best cameramen in the business.  We both had dreams of having long careers in the media industry.  We were both single and going to school.  Because we shared so much in common and spent so much time together we became best friends.  We were like brothers.  One of the only differences between us was that my dear friend was not a member of our Church … and he had no desire to change that.  It was during our friendship that I decided I needed to serve a mission.  I didn’t try to force anything on him, but I knew he thought it was a mistake for me to take two years away from my career to serve a mission.  After my final day at KSL before I was to leave on my mission I stood outside the studios on the sidewalk in Salt Lake City.  I’ll always remember it being a very warm afternoon.   My friend and I walked out together and paused for a moment.  Then he looked me directly in the eye and said, “You’re making the biggest mistake of your life.”  He went on for several minutes to say that he couldn’t understand how I could throw away everything I had worked for to go on a mission.  He couldn’t believe I would leave my beautiful girlfriend (who is now my beautiful wife), my schooling and especially my job just to be a missionary for my Church. 

I felt terrible as he was saying all these things.  After all, how do you answer questions like that?  When he was finished telling me how foolish I was I could only respond by saying, “I know it’s the right thing to do regardless of all these things you’ve said and it’s something I believe I need to do.”  If I hadn’t have known in my heart through the spirit that I was to go on a mission, I don’t know if I could have responded that way.  He put forth some persuading reasons for not going, but I had a spiritual witness that I needed to serve. 

My friend wrote to me every week of my mission.  When I had been out about 3 months I received one of his weekly letters.  As I read it, I couldn’t believe what he was telling me.  He said that shortly after I left on my mission he started taking the missionary lessons.  The purpose of this letter was to tell me he had made the decision to be baptized and join the Church.  He went on to say that my example helped him want to learn more about the Church. 

What if I had given into the peer pressure I felt that day on the street outside of KSL?  I wouldn’t have gone on a mission, perhaps my friend wouldn’t have joined the church and I promise I would have missed out on some of the greatest blessings of my life.  I thought back on how I found the strength to respond to my friend the way I did those few months ago.  I believe it was because the Spirit had testified to me that I was doing was what the Lord wanted me to do and I couldn’t go against something I knew was right.  I believe it’s the same with any temptation you may face through peer pressure; whether it be drugs, alcohol, pornography, immorality or any other form of sin – you need to lean on your testimony to help you through it.  Is it any surprise then why you are encouraged to find your own testimonies as early in life as possible?

Peer pressure can be so subtle and persuasive.  I believe the greatest desire of every person on the earth is to feel successful, loved, and valued.  Peer Pressure is Satan’s great lie to make you think participating in sinful behavior will make you successful and help you feel the love and value of the world.  What a great lie!  But there’s a reason Satan is referred to as “The Father of Lies.”  It’s because he is brilliant at creating cunning, cruel, and convincing counterfeits.

I think it’s much like this example:  A few years ago a study was conducted on a brand of artificial sweeteners.  Like all artificial sweeteners, this product was designed to give food and drinks the sweet taste of sugar with zero calories.  (In other words, it was a counterfeit of sugar.)  This results of this study revealed some very interesting findings.  First of all it suggested that this artificial sweetener didn’t satisfy the bodies craving for sweets … in fact it did just the opposite … it increased the appetite for sweet and secondly, it never left the consumer with a feeling of satisfaction. 

I’ve often thought that this is just like the many counterfeits Satan thrusts upon us through peer pressure.  These temptations always increase the appetite for more of the soul killing activity but never, ever leave a person satisfied.  The victim is always left “wanting more and never being satisfied.”  Is there a worse feeling than that? 

If Satan’s scheme is to tempt you away from success, love and value then the Savior’s Plan of Happiness is to lead you to these things.  I believe the only way to find this type of happiness and fulfillment is through the Savior.

I want to share with you one man’s philosophy of finding value and success,  … but I believe at its roots are the Saviors teachings of love.

John Wooden coaches UCLA Basketball

John Wooden was perhaps the most successful college basketball coach of all time.  He was known as the “Wizard of Westwood” because he coached the U.C.L.A. Bruins located in the Westwood area of Los Angeles.  In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when basketball was at the center of my own universe UCLA ruled the world of college basketball.  Coach Wooden’s UCLA teams won 10 NCAA championships over the his last 12 years of coaching including seven in a row from 1967-1973.  Also during that run UCLA won 88 straight games. (A record that may never be broken.)  Not only was John Wooden perhaps the greatest coach of all-time in any sport, but he was also a great teacher and gentleman.  As he was teaching his basketball players about success he felt the definition of success found in the dictionary wasn’t as descriptive as he thought it should be so he laid out his own definition for young people.

“Success is peace of mind which is
a direct result of self-satisfaction
in knowing you made the effort to
become the best that you are
capable of becoming.”

Take this definition of success and then think about any peer pressure you may feel.  Does the peer pressure bring you closer to becoming what you are capable of becoming or does it lead you away from it?  I believe that’s a pretty good measuring stick for finding success, love and value in the world.  I also believe that through the restored gospel we are blessed to have a perfect understanding of what we are “capable of becoming.”  We are capable of returning to live with our Heavenly Father as families because of the life, mission and atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

It’s my prayer that each of us will be able to avoid the pain and sorrow that come from yielding to negative peer pressure.  I know that as we lean on the Savior and our testimonies of his atonement we will be protected and guided to do what is right.  I promise as you continue to invite the spirit into your life you will be given strength to resist participating in activities that will bring regret and sadness.  I also promise as you let this spiritual strength guide your actions you’ll feel the inner peace and on-going satisfaction that comes from knowing you are loved, valued and successful in the eyes of the Lord.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Adversity Makes Us Stronger"

Here’s a verse from Isaiah that Nephi includes in his record.  (And it’s one that is easy to understand … you see, not all of Isaiah’s writings are confusing.)

“I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”  (I Nephi 20:10)

When we came to this life from the pre-existence we knew it was going to be a test.  We knew there were going to be challenges and struggles.  We knew it was going to be hard and it was going to be difficult.  But we also knew it would be worth it.  Because at the end of the test is the opportunity to not only live with God, the Eternal Father, but to live like Him.  That is the greatest gift possible. 

So, what I believe Nephi wants us to learn from this verse is that as we go through the hard times in our lives we need to be aware that God hasn’t forgotten us.  In fact, he allows us to face these difficulties in order to “refine” us.  The word “refine” means to purify.  Isn’t that interesting that this life is meant to purify us.  That’s not always easy to remember when we’re being tossed around by the storms of life. 

I love the story President Hinckley shared about challenges.  He said this:

“I know something of the frustrations of life in general. I have had my head bumped and my shins barked. On some of these occasions when I have needed a laugh I have turned to a letter which . . . was first published in the Manchester, England, Guardian and later reprinted in the Deseret News.
A hurricane had hit the West Indies, and a bricklayer was sent to repair the damage. He wrote to the home office as follows, and I hope you can get this delightful picture:
"Respected Sirs:
"When I got to the building I found that the hurricane had knocked some bricks off the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels full of bricks.
When I had fixed the building, there was a lot of bricks left over. I hoisted the barrel back up again and secured the line at the bottom, and then went up and filled the barrel with the extra bricks.
Then I went to the bottom and cast off the line. Unfortunately the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was, and before I knew what was happening the barrel started down, jerking me off the ground. I decided to hang on, and halfway up I met the barrel coming down and received a severe blow on the shoulder.
I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my finger jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground it bursted its bottom, allowing all the bricks to spill out.
I was now heavier than the barrel and so started down again at high speed. Halfway down, I met the barrel coming up and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the bricks, getting several painful cuts from the sharp edges.
At this point I must have lost my presence of mind because I let go of the line. The barrel then came down, giving me another heavy blow on the head and putting me in hospital.
I respectfully request sick leave."

I don’t know whether that experience would “purify” a person, but it would surely teach the lesson of patience.
Isaiah isn’t the only prophet in the Old Testament to use the example of being “refined in the furnace.”  Malachi also uses this analogy when he says this:
"And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."  (Malachi 3:3)
I read a story a few years ago of a woman who wanted to know more about the refining of silver.  So she went to visit a silversmith to learn more about the process of refining silver.  The Silversmith explained the process to her as he sat in front of his fire.  The woman had many questions.
"Sir" the woman said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"

"Oh, yes," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The woman began to understand the meaning of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." 

Christ sees it needful to put us into a furnace (this life is the furnace); But His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us.  Our trials do not come at random; for as the Savior taught "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matt. 10:30) 

As the woman was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had forgotten to mention that he only when he sees his own image in the silver does he know the purifying is complete.

What a great truth this teaches us about the furnace and the refining process.  This means for us that the work of purifying will only be accomplished when Christ sees his image reflected in each of us.  And for that to happen we must go through the refiner’s fire.

I don’t know of many who have gone through that refiner’s fire more than the Martin Willie Handcart Company.  I would like to share with you a remarkable story about how this terrible experience refined the lives of those involved until they had the Savior reflected in their images.  This was shared by (then) Elder James E. Faust in the April General Conference in 1979.

Some years ago President David O. McKay told from this pulpit of the experience of some of those in the Martin handcart company. Many of these early converts had emigrated from Europe and were too poor to buy oxen or horses and a wagon. They were forced by their poverty to pull handcarts containing all of their belongings across the plains by their own brute strength. President McKay relates an occurrence which took place some years after the heroic exodus: “A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.
“[According to a class member,] some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.
“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.
“ ‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’ ” He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’ ” (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, p. 8.)
Here then is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd.  (The Refiners Fire; President James E. Faust - General Conference - April 1979)
I hope that every time you read about the refiner’s fire, or if there is a time you feel the intense heat of adversity in your life, that you will consider the blessing that comes to those who are refined through this process if they but put their hand in the Lord’s and allow his image to shine in their faces. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"We Lived After the Manner of Happiness"

II Nephi 5:27
And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.
I’ve thought a lot about what Nephi meant by living “after the manner of happiness.”  I’m certain it went beyond having money, food, and clothing.  I’m sure it surpassed momentary pleasure.  I’m convinced it was more than good weather.  I think what Nephi was teaching us here is that as a people they lived like we want to live … as a “Zion’s People.”  
In our day, that means keeping the covenants we’ve made.  One of the covenants we’ve all made at baptism is taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ in all that we do.  We get the opportunity to renew that covenant each Sunday during the sacrament.  It reminds us of who we need to pattern our lives after … the Savior.  
I love that the Savior created this world.  I love that he’s referred to as the “Creator.”   Creativity is very important to me and it’s an important part of what I do for a living.  Creativity is exciting.  Several years ago I traveled to Chicago for a conference on Creativity.  One of the sessions I attended at the conference was called “One Hundred Ways to be More Creative.”
I thought you might like to hear a few of the hundred methods our instructor suggested to become more creative:
Wear your watch on the other hand – change the part in your hair … do something.  Act differently. Think differently.
Re-arrange the room.  Re-arrange something in the room.  Put a catsup bottle on your desk or a croquet ball.  Add something from childhood to the room:  a doll, a large plastic truck.
Turn literally everything into a game.  If you think a task is a “chore” it drains energy.  If you think it’s a “game” it generates energy.
Walk barefoot in the mud.
Float the rumor you have an IQ of 175.
Make a furniture fort at home.  Spend half an hour in it with your whole family.
Go to the zoo in the middle of the day.  Drop everything and watch an elephant for 30 minutes.
There were many incredible and fun ways presented to be more creative.  But when he got to number 26 something grabbed my attention.  #26 was this:
For one day, change your name.  Be “Terry, or Ed, or Chuck or Gretchen or Lancelot.”  Your entire day will be different.  Notice how you see yourself everyday “through your name.”  For example if your name is “Ed” you sit, eat, and make phone calls like an “Ed” would.  Subconsciously, you think a “Bruce” would do it all slightly differently.  Be a “Bruce” for a day.  Try it.  You don’t even have to tell anyone.  They can call you by your regular name.  You’ll notice more about yourself all day long.  You’ll develop a heightened consciousness.
I got thinking about how some of the greatest actors have done that with the characters they’ve portrayed.  They’ve studied them extensively trying to gain insight to every nuance of that character.  You may have heard that Tom Hanks put on 50 pounds to play his character in the beginning of “Cast Away” so he could lose it later.  Doing so allowed him to better understand and portray his character.  I’ve heard of actors who have spent time in Army boot camps, spent time with homeless people, spent time in the gyms just so they could better understand the character they were going to portray.
Now, I’m not an actor, but I thought about #26 for quite a while and considered this; what if we all took upon us a different character for a period of time.  Not just casually, but really getting into it.  For example how differently would you act if you acted like your bishop?  What would your life be like if you tried living it like President Monson?  What kind of difference would it make in your life if you tried – not for a day or two – but always to be like the Savior?  What if for the next week you took upon you His name?  Well, we not only have that opportunity – we have that responsibility and it a responsibility we’re reminded of every Sunday.
… That they may eat in remembrance of the body of they Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which has has given them; that they may always have his spirit to be with them.  Amen.  (D&C 29:77)
How can our lives be different if we truly take upon ourselves the name of our creator, Jesus Christ.  How would we act?  How would we treat others?  How would we better serve Him?
"Most people in trouble end up crying, 'What was I thinking?' Well, whatever they were thinking, they weren't thinking of Christ. Yet, as members of His Church, we pledge every Sunday of our lives to take upon ourselves His name and promise to 'always remember him' (D&C 20:77). So let us work a little harder at remembering Him."  (Jeffrey R. Holland, "Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul," Ensign, May 2010, 46)
One of my most favorite sermons in the Book of Mormon is King Benjamin’s speech in Mosiah 2-5.  In chapter 5 verses 8 and 9 he gives some thoughts on being called by the name of Christ.
8  “… Therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.
9  And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God … for he shall be called by the name of Christ.”
Being the perfect teacher the Savior gives us some wonderful insights to how to act when we take upon us His name.  
The person who takes upon themselves His name are promising to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.”  (Mosiah 18: 8-9)  
The Aaronic Priesthood holder who takes upon himself the name of Christ will live the principles of “long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”  He will have charity towards all men and let virtue garnish his thoughts unceasingly.”  (D&C 121: 41-45)
The Youth who take upon them the name of Christ will not be afraid to “put on the whole armor of God.”  They will gladly go through boot camp to put on the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation and the sword of faith to prepare them for the most important and rewarding role of all: To be like the Savior.
If we are successful in taking on the Savior’s name at all times will there be any person in our stake who wouldn’t have enough love and understanding to overcome any problem, any challenge, any heartache?
Think about it.  If we all to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and live like him will there be any youth in our stake who won’t use clean language, have clean thoughts and actions and keep themselves spiritually pure?
Will there be anyone who doesn’t read the scriptures daily or who doesn’t feel the peace that comes from the companionship of the Holy Ghost?
The Prophet Alma asks us each of us this question:  “And now behold, I ask of you my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?  Have ye received his image in your countenances?  Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?  (Alma 5: 14)
Those who have received his image in their countenances and experienced this mighty change in their hearts will find it easier to follow President Howard W. Hunter’s counsel that he shared in his last public address to the Church:
“Mend a quarrel.  Seek out a forgotten friend.  Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.  Write a letter.  Give a soft answer.  Encourage youth.  Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.  Keep a promise.  Forgo a grudge.  Forgive an enemy.  Apologize.  Try to understand.  Examine your demands on others.  Think first of someone else.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Laugh a little more.  Express your gratitude.  Welcome a stranger.  Gladden the heart of a child.  Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.  Speak your love and then speak it again.”  (President Howard W. Hunter; The Gifts of Christmas; The First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December, 2002)
If we will take upon us the name of the Savior we will win the prize.  No, it won’t be a Tony, an Emmy or an Oscar.  It will be “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”  (D&C 59:23)  That prize is “the greatest of all the gifts of God.”  (D&C 14:7)
I pray that we will all be more effective in our spiritual lives by taking upon us the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I testify as we do, our lives will be filled with greater joy, greater meaning, and greater happiness; and through all our trials, struggles and mistakes it will bring greater hope.  This is what I believe is living “after the manner of happiness.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Nephi 7:21 - "I did frankly forgive them."

Next to “love” I think the most powerful word in the in the human language is “forgive.”  For most people forgiveness is something they quickly desire from others, but are not often willing to give to someone else.

Think about Nephi for a minute.  His brothers, Laman and Lemuel had already beaten him with a rod (which I think would be only slightly less bulky than a baseball bat!), they had just tied him up and left him in the wilderness to be “devoured by wild beasts.”  Think about how easy it would have been for Nephi to hold a grudge, harbor hatred and look for ways to “get even with his brothers.”  After all, it wasn’t as if he wasn’t justified.  He endured some very malicious and severe behavior from his older brothers.

But what is the example Nephi sets for all of us?  The scripture makes it pretty clear, “I did frankly forgive them.”  (I Nephi 7:21)  I love the use of the word “frankly” … he didn’t just forgive them, but he forgave them “frankly.”  The definition of the word “frankly” is this: straightforward; sincere; direct; unmistakable; freely.  So you can understand that Nephi didn’t “almost” forgive them, or say he forgave them but then didn’t, or say “I might forgive, but I’ll never forget.”  He said he “did frankly forgive them” which means he forgave them sincerely, unmistakably and freely.  I believe these five words in the Book of Mormon teach a powerful lesson on how we should approach forgiveness.

You may ask yourself this question; “Would I be willing to forgive my brothers of these wrongs?”  I think the way to discover this answer is to ask how willing you are to forgive others of the things they do to you.  For example; what if someone tells your friends a hurtful lie about you?  What if someone calls you a name behind your back and it gets back to you?  What if someone borrows something valuable to you and then breaks it?  What if someone treats you rudely and tells others not to be your friend?  What if someone “steals” your best friend and turns them against you?  What if your self-worth is crushed by vulgar expressions of hurtful words?  These are the moments in our lives when we have to have the courage of Nephi and forgive others … as hard as that may seem. 

I’ve seen from experience that people who can’t let go of “grudges” or can’t forgive someone else’s actions are most often the ones who lose the most.  I remember many years ago when I was serving as a counselor, our Stake Presidency visited a home in our stake where a man had been wronged.  He had every right to be upset because what happened to him “wasn’t right.”  Despite all the evidence he shared about being justified in his feelings, President Casaday, our Stake President, gave some very wise counsel to him that day.  He said, “You need to let it go and not let it consume you.”  Those were very wise words that were not the counsel the man was hearing from others.  Others were telling him to “get even” and to “get back” at the offenders.  I wish I could say that he was able to follow President Casaday’s advice, but sadly he didn’t find it possible to let it go and it continued to consume him.  I watched closely over the following weeks, months, and years.  What I noticed was how this man wasted so much time and futile energy just trying to justify himself.  Had he used that time and energy to build important relationships, to be productive, and to help others, think of how much happier and fulfilled he would have been.  But, what I witnessed was a continual and underlying anger that was very consuming and destructive. 

Are you holding any grudges or hard feelings that are holding you back from being all you can be?  If you are, I would beg you to forgive and move on. 

One of the greatest talks I ever heard on forgiveness was given in General Conference in April 2007 by President James E. Faust, who was serving as 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency.  In it he shared the tragic story of the murder of several innocent Amish school children and the remarkable story that followed.  I’d like to share some of his talk with you:

In the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania, a devout group of Christian people live a simple life without automobiles, electricity, or modern machinery. They work hard and live quiet, peaceful lives separate from the world. Most of their food comes from their own farms. The women sew and knit and weave their clothing, which is modest and plain. They are known as the Amish people.
A 32-year-old milk truck driver lived with his family in their Nickel Mines community. He was not Amish, but his pickup route took him to many Amish dairy farms, where he became known as the quiet milkman. Last October he suddenly lost all reason and control. In his tormented mind he blamed God for the death of his first child and some unsubstantiated memories. He stormed into the Amish school without any provocation, released the boys and adults, and tied up the 10 girls. He shot the girls, killing five and wounding five. Then he took his own life.
This shocking violence caused great anguish among the Amish but no anger. There was hurt but no hate. Their forgiveness was immediate. Collectively they began to reach out to the milkman’s suffering family. As the milkman’s family gathered in his home the day after the shootings, an Amish neighbor came over, wrapped his arms around the father of the dead gunman, and said, “We will forgive you.”  Amish leaders visited the milkman’s wife and children to extend their sympathy, their forgiveness, their help, and their love. About half of the mourners at the milkman’s funeral were Amish. In turn, the Amish invited the milkman’s family to attend the funeral services of the girls who had been killed. A remarkable peace settled on the Amish as their faith sustained them during this crisis.
One local resident very eloquently summed up the aftermath of this tragedy when he said, “We were all speaking the same language, and not just English, but a language of caring, a language of community, [and] a language of service. And, yes, a language of forgiveness.”  It was an amazing outpouring of their complete faith in the Lord’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
The family of the milkman who killed the five girls released the following statement to the public:
“To our Amish friends, neighbors, and local community:
“Our family wants each of you to know that we are overwhelmed by the forgiveness, grace, and mercy that you’ve extended to us. Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. The prayers, flowers, cards, and gifts you’ve given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.
“Please know that our hearts have been broken by all that has happened. We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love. We know that there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in the God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives.” 
How could the whole Amish group manifest such an expression of forgiveness? It was because of their faith in God and trust in His word, which is part of their inner beings. They see themselves as disciples of Christ and want to follow His example.
Hearing of this tragedy, many people sent money to the Amish to pay for the health care of the five surviving girls and for the burial expenses of the five who were killed. As a further demonstration of their discipleship, the Amish decided to share some of the money with the widow of the milkman and her three children because they too were victims of this terrible tragedy.
Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.
(James E. Faust; The Healing Power of Forgiveness; April 2007; General Conference)
I believe the thing that allowed both Nephi and the Amish to forgive others of such heinous and revolting actions against them was their faith in the teachings of the “Prince of Peace,” Jesus Christ. 

Perhaps the greatest measure of forgiveness took place nearly 2000 years ago on a lonely hill called “Calvary.”  There the only perfect man to walk the earth was as wrongly accused of any man who ever lived.  He gave sight to the blind, he healed the lame, he raised the dead … but all the Pharisee’s and Sadducee’s could see was hate and rage.  Their hate wouldn’t end until the very God of this world was put to death in the most humiliating and painful method known to man – crucifixion.  But even there, hanging on the cross in agony as they fought over his clothes and mocked him, He looked on the people and simply said,

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)  

If the Savior, Himself, could forgive while enduring the pains of death, can’t we be more like Him and forgive those who may have offended us in situations much less monumental?  It’s my prayer that we can all look to the example of the Amish, of Nephi and of our perfect example; the Lord, Jesus Christ, and look for ways to “frankly forgive.”