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Elizabeth Smart Shares Powerful Message About Forgiving Her Captors: "Forgiveness Is Another Word for Self-Love"

"If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being," President James E. Faust testified when he spoke on the healing power of forgiveness. "Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become 'less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,' which leads to greater physical well-being. Another of these studies concludes 'that forgiveness . . . is a liberating gift [that] people can give to themselves.'"

While many might understand the importance of forgiveness doctrinally, Elizabeth Smart has seen firsthand the transformative effects of forgiveness in her personal life. After being kidnapped, raped, abused, and held captive for nine months at age 14, Smart has often testified how her faith helped her heal from trauma and become an advocate for others. 

In a recent Instagram post, Smart shared insights into what forgiveness means and its liberating power:

A question I’m always asked when I speak is, “have you forgiven your captors?” Yes. But when I say yes, I don’t mean I think their actions are acceptable. For example I will never be ok with rape, abuse, or kidnapping. But to me forgiveness is another word for self love, and perhaps the greatest form of self love. And I forgive my captors because I love myself enough to want happiness, joy, and freedom. And holding onto the negativity, pain, and suffering from my past doesn’t allow me to embrace and live my life fully now. It didn’t happen overnight, and my family and God we’re absolutely instrumental in coming to this place. But I believe everyone should have a chance at happiness and I refuse to let mine pass me by. #nevergiveup #miracleshappen #forgiveness #selflove #workingeveryday

A question I’m always asked when I speak is, “have you forgiven your captors?” Yes. But when I say yes, I don’t mean I think their actions are acceptable. For example I will never be ok with rape, abuse, or kidnapping. But to me forgiveness is another word for self love, and perhaps the greatest form of self love. And I forgive my captors because I love myself enough to want happiness, joy, and freedom. And holding onto the negativity, pain, and suffering from my past doesn’t allow me to embrace and live my life fully now. It didn’t happen overnight, and my family and God we’re absolutely instrumental in coming to this place. But I believe everyone should have a chance at happiness and I refuse to let mine pass me by. 😘 #nevergiveup #miracleshappen #forgiveness #selflove #workingeveryday

A post shared by Elizabeth Smart (@elizabeth_smart_official) on

For those struggling to forgive, President Gordon B. Hinckley reminds us that forgiveness comes only through our Savior, who can also help us feel forgiveness for others: "Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way. The great Atonement was the supreme act of forgiveness. The magnitude of that Atonement is beyond our ability to completely understand. I know only that it happened, and that it was for me and for you. . . . It is through Him that we gain forgiveness."

Lead image from Instagram
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