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Lessons on Forgiveness from Mother Eve and Nephi’s Wife

Watching the news and reading my Facebook feed there seems to be a common thread lately—hurt. Some of the recent headlines have brought me to my knees asking what can be done and how can we better heal? Answers to my prayers often come in reading the scriptures. And the answers that have come, for both those hurt and those doing the hurting, was forgiveness.

The forgiveness message came to me from studying women in the scriptures—sisters that we have minimal details about. Yet, their daily realities, their hearts and souls, their lessons of forgiveness for others and for themselves seem to reach through time and teach me about today. Here are just two of those women who taught me powerful lessons of forgiveness.

Mother Eve

How must it felt to be called the mother of all living? I feel overwhelmed with just the needs of my two children. Eve was in tune, obedient, and covenant keeping. When given the hard choice, Eve literally put family first.

In Moses 5:11–12 it says, “And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we should never have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

“And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.”

These scriptures show that Eve kept her covenants and taught her children. Did she rub her calloused hands and ache for the abundance and ease of their previous life in the Garden? It’s possible. But we also know that to Eve, the joy and learning that could only be experienced out of the Garden was worth the toil, heartache, and labor.

Eve saw her newborn son Cain as a gift from God. I speculate that Eve’s feelings were similar to my own when the doctors handed me my baby boy and I vowed to be the perfect mom, to sacrifice anything and give anything for this child. I was responsible for him—and mistakenly thought I was somehow in control of how his life would turn out.

But Eve learned by experience that all of her teaching, covenant keeping, and loving could not prevent the mistakes of her children. I can only imagine that Eve’s heart must have broken when Abel was slain and Cain was banished, cursed, and lost.

Despite her grief, we know from the scriptures that Eve remained faithful. Covenants and God must have been the only answers to restore and renew hope. I can only guess that she cried out to her Father in Heaven, pleading and wondering what more she could have, or should have done to teach Cain. What would Eve say to the mothers of offenders as they witness the aftermath and pain their children have caused? What would Eve teach all mothers about letting go of an ideal of perfection and receiving forgiveness?

What can Eve teach us?

* The power of the adversary is real, but God is bigger. Eve had faced the serpent and knew of his darkness and lies. She must have understood the battle her children also faced in the world and the mistakes they would inevitably make. Eve could literally testify of the grace and mercy she had received following her own transgressions, meaning that she was one of the first people on earth to not only require forgiveness but to receive it. It is important for us all to remember that forgiveness is possible and necessary, but only through God.

* Choice is the great teacher. Eve honored agency above all else. In partaking of the fruit in the garden, she literally voted again for choice. She knew, as mothers of today know, that no one could choose for her children. Eve was left to then choose God’s grace to heal. She knew that the best way to learn was in choosing and that choice only could happen with opposition. As mothers, we too can choose the tool of agency and prayerfully watch our children fall down and choose to receive grace as we patiently help them, and ourselves, learn to stand again and move forward.

* There is always hope. Eve had to go on, no matter what she had lost. She was the mother of all living, and quitting was not an option. Parenting can push us to our personal and emotional limits. Eve showed us by her example that we can go forward after a loss, but only with God. Mothers can go on as we receive forgiveness for those times we fall short and fall down.

* There is power in keeping covenants. In 1918, President Joseph F. Smith had a vision of Christ’s visit to the spirit world and His ministry among the faithful and noble spirits. It is recorded, “Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all, and our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshiped the true and living God” (D&C 138:38-39). I love to imagine Mother Eve, along with her faithful daughters, greeting the Savior. It brings me hope that one day, despite my shortcomings and challenges, if I keep my covenants, I will also be greeted by Mother Eve and my Heavenly Parents.