“My Lesson from Pahoran,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 40
As secretary of my family organization, I was thrilled to see a book of our family history roll off the press. From the initial positive comments and praise I heard, I assumed other family members were also happy with the publication.
Therefore, I was shocked when I opened a letter that contained no compliments or expressions of gratitude for the book but instead was full of negative and unkind remarks. This relative was hurt because the information on a member of her family had been left out.
My first reaction was anger. I was ready to retaliate by writing my own letter, but then I decided to see if there was any foundation for her remarks. In going through earlier correspondence, I discovered that the latest information she had sent, the material that had been left out, had not arrived until after the book had gone to the press.
Before I had a chance to begin my letter, I was prompted to read Alma 60–61, the chapters telling of some difficulties faced by Moroni, chief captain of all the Nephite armies.
As I read, I felt very deeply for Moroni as he watched many of his soldiers suffer greatly from hunger. I could understand his anger at the government because the necessary food supplies had not arrived. In his letter to “the governor of the land,” Pahoran, Moroni seemed to become increasingly more outraged at not receiving the needed supplies—to the point that he even threatened to fight against the government if Pahoran did not send the needed supplies. (See Alma 60:1, 35.)
The greatest lesson for me came in Pahoran’s reply to the captain. He wrote that the army’s great afflictions grieved his soul, and he then explained that he had been forced to flee for his life to the land of Gideon when a group had rebelled against him and had taken over the government. He told Moroni that the supplies needed by the army were being controlled by the oppressors and that he was helpless to retrieve them.
The words in Alma 61:9 had a strong impact on me. Instead of answering Moroni’s angry letter with equal anger, Pahoran answered with love:
“And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart. I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people. My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free.”
Pahoran’s kind response was a good example for me. As a result, I was able to sit down and write a kind letter to my relative. I explained why the information was not in the book, apologized for its absence, and said that a supplement could be added to the book later on. I ended the letter with words of love.
A short time later I received a second letter from her, full of apology for her previous words. The letter brought tears to my eyes. It also brought a feeling of deep gratitude to my heart for the prompting from the Holy Ghost to study the scriptures. Because I listened to this prompting and applied an example from the Book of Mormon to my life, I gained a true friend where I could have easily made an enemy.