A little while ago I ran across a self-help book written by a Mormon. I read through it quickly and found nothing particularly interesting or novel in it, just standard, good self-help advice. Then I came across this prayer:
“Lord, help me to forgive those who sin differently than I do.”
That line has stayed with me. I can’t say that I have actually prayed it much, but I have thought a great deal about it. It’s a prayer that gets around: I’ve even seen the prayer on Orthodox websites.
Somehow it is very difficult to forgive those who sin in ways I don’t understand, who suffer temptations I do not suffer, whose weaknesses seem to me to be mere excuses for laziness or excess. There are certain sins, even great sins, that I can understand. I can forgive people certain sins (eventually) even if they have hurt me. Other sins are harder to forgive.
The older I get, the easier it is for me to forgive. I guess I see more sins in myself, so it is easier to forgive others. As it turns out, I seem to sin just about the same way everyone else does.
But still some weaknesses in others are hard for me to forgive. Perhaps as I get to know myself better, it will become easier.
Lord, help me to forgive those who sin differently than I do.
Powerful prayer! Out of curiosity, why did you read a Mormon self-help book? No judgment here; my wife is a recently-returned Mormon, and I am a catechumen in the Church who grew up Evangelical). Long story short, it’s been challenging navigating our family of four between our two burgeoning faiths. Obviously I am just as concerned for my wife as I am for my kids. Any advice, Father?
I was preparing for pre-marriage counselling and reading as many books as possible. It was one of the books I read. In my experience with Mormons, they are generally good people with bad theology. Like any religious group, there are some who fear-monger, manipulate and try to control others. But there are others who are sincerely trying to become virtuous people within their religious worldview. It’s this later group (of Later Day Saints) that I think you need to assume you are working with (unless there is obvious evidence of spiritual abuse) so that you do not fall into the sin of self-righteous judgement, but can rather be open, loving and honest. If you allow the Grace of God in the (Orthodox) Church to transform you into a generous, kind, gentle and loving father and husband, they will see the difference and ask to know more about Orthodox faith. Until then, I think it is best to focus on your own salvation through repentance and love of neighbour (especially the neighbours who live in your house). But that is just my opinion. I’m sure your priest will give you better and more specific guidance.
Thank you, Father. Your gentle and wise words are comforting to my restless-prone heart. I will do my best to honor them
John, I’m going through a very similar navigation. My wife and I were raised Mormon, married in the Mormon temple, and I am strongly considering leaving the faith (for Orthodoxy, or something else). My wife remains a committed Mormon, and we have three young children.
Let me know if you want to connect, you can message me as u/infinityball on reddit, and we can exchange emails there.
Father Michael, I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to read the blog posts on this site made by you and the other fathers and contributors that actually take a friendly tone toward members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m a happy member of that faith. And I love learning from folks in other faiths. Thanks for being welcoming 🙂 I will certainly be sticking around and reading more on the site.