New Experience

    Learning to Press the Reset Button

    Liz Stitt
    February 22, 2019
    Some months ago in a Relief Society class, we discussed developing compassion and changing our hearts about certain people. At first, I wondered if I had ever been soft enough in my heart to change it. I can be outspoken and sometimes hold an opinion for a very long time. Thankfully, I was reminded of a few circumstances where I had allowed my opinion of someone to be changed. I also felt impressed to look at some situations differently.
    I had recently made the transition as a single sister from a young single adult ward into a conventional “family” ward. I had heard from many people about this transition, and I had some preconceived ideas. One friend had not been welcomed much by the younger mothers in her ward—likely because their experiences were so different and varied. I assumed that would be my experience. To my surprise, the first two women who introduced themselves in my new ward were two of those so-called “young mothers.” And the first people who visited me in my home were young mothers. And a few months after I moved in, a young mother saw a very silent need of mine and reached out in a surprising and compassionate way to serve me.
    Surprise, right? In that Relief Society class, my soul filled with thoughts about this experience. And then it filled with many other examples.

    Choosing My Own Experience

    It is so easy for me to assume that my experience has to be like someone else’s. All of us carry past experiences and past hurts or knowledge about people. Sometimes it’s a relief to not have to carry some of those ideas as I meet new people. Perhaps someone I meet may have offended someone in the past. Or perhaps they had been offended. But I don’t have to let someone else’s experience be my own. I can choose to let my experience be my own experience—not someone else’s. It has been liberating, and healing, to begin thinking this way.
    As I listened to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the October 2018 general conference, this sentiment was reinforced. He taught: “Surely each of us could cite an endless array of old scars and sorrows and painful memories that this very moment still corrode the peace in someone’s heart or family or neighborhood. Whether we have caused that pain or been the recipient of the pain, those wounds need to be healed so that life can be as rewarding as God intended it to be” (“The Ministry of Reconciliation”).

    Pressing the “Reset” Button

    In every relationship, we open ourselves up to being hurt or misused or misinformed at times. So I have developed a mental “reset” button. My reset button means I recognize the potential hurt—“Ok, that was snappy or unkind”—and then decide that I don’t need to hold on to it forever.
    When I start to build a judgment or put people in a box or harden my heart against them, I mentally press this reset button and think, “Give that person another chance.”
    A few months ago, a situation at work left me in tears. It took a few days, but then I allowed my heart to press the reset button. In this case, my reset button helped me value another’s opinion but also acknowledge that we needed boundaries on how differences of opinion were expressed.
    When I got out of sorts with a friend, it took a few months, but I found I could eventually press my reset button. We spoke about what happened and decided to give things another chance. Even though the relationship is different, I was able to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
    When I left a Church meeting and felt like I had been chastened by those I had hoped to feel strengthened by, I hit the reset button. I chose to support the love and direction behind what I had received instead of the way it had been delivered. Then I allowed myself to still love and support those who were trying their hardest to support me.
    Our Heavenly Father and our Savior give us endless opportunities to start over, and surely I can do that for others too. I can let the Savior’s power work in my life to help me let go.

    Understanding Boundaries

    Even with our best efforts, some situations may take longer to reset and to forgive. It does not always have to be a total reset, because past experiences can keep us safe, help us set better boundaries, and guide us to work more wisely with others.
    As Elder Holland taught, “It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what [the Savior] did not say. He did not say, ‘You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.’ Nor did He say, ‘In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.’ But notwithstanding even the most terrible offenses that might come to us, we can rise above our pain only when we put our feet onto the path of true healing. That path is the forgiving one walked by Jesus of Nazareth, who calls out to each of us, ‘Come, follow me.’”
    To me, it doesn’t mean the hurt has gone away entirely or that I give my trust in the same way again. It doesn’t mean being a pushover or not standing up for things that aren’t right. It just means giving others the chance to change. It means allowing others to make mistakes and learn from them. It means not defining a person by one, or even a few, of their “bad day” moments (because I certainly don’t want to be defined by mine).
    Even more important in some situations, it means not blaming myself for someone else’s actions or behavior. And, hardest of all, it means learning to give myself another chance when I mess up. It is often my prayer to “create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Soften my heart—toward others, toward myself. Look at things differently. Forgive. Reset.