“Finding Peace through Forgiveness,” Ensign, Sept. 2003, 65–66
My husband’s brother, John (names have been changed), was being transferred out of state. It was hard to accept the fact that he, his wife, Annie, and their family were leaving. We had spent a lot of time together and had grown quite close.
After John’s family had been gone a few months, my husband, Ron, called to see how they were doing. They had adjusted well and were enjoying their new area. My husband owned a small business and let his brother know the door was always open if he ever wanted to move back and work with him. At that point in the conversation John’s wife, Annie, spoke up and told Ron in no uncertain terms that they were not interested. She apparently said some unkind things about Ron as well as about his business.
Ron came home and shared this conversation with me. Although he tried to appear as if it didn’t bother him, I could tell he was deeply hurt. I was enraged and wanted to call Annie immediately and set her straight.
I didn’t call, but once I had allowed myself to be offended, I opened the gates to a flood of foul thoughts. I began finding fault with Annie and gossiped about her with other family members and friends. In essence, I allowed pride to creep into my heart and take root, while charity withered away.
Just as an infection can spread and cause deterioration and pain to the physical body, pride can do the same to the spirit. Although my husband had long forgotten the incident, my heart remained infected. My thoughts were focused on how hurt I was. I was on edge with my family and quick to see the worst in every situation. I had no desire to love and serve others because I was caught up in myself.
After several months we heard that John and Annie were coming to town for a family wedding. I would finally have to face her. I dreaded seeing her, but there was no way around it. As the wedding day approached, my anxiety mounted. I didn’t like the way I had been feeling, and I knew it was wrong. I prayed often for the Savior to help me overcome my negative feelings. Eventually, good thoughts about Annie started to fill my mind.
When I saw her at the wedding, we exchanged shallow greetings. I tried to avoid her the rest of the evening, but I watched her. And as I watched her I realized how much I missed her. My heart began to ache for the peace of forgiveness, and I was overcome with love for Annie.
When the evening reception was nearly over, I found myself sitting alone with Annie. We still hadn’t spoken since our first greeting. I looked at her, and the Spirit filled my heart. I reached out and put my hands on her cheeks. With tears in my eyes, I said, “Annie, I have missed you so much.” We hugged and cried and rejoiced in the peace that comes through forgiveness.
I don’t remember if we ever said we were sorry or if we explained our earlier feelings. All that didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the love we felt and our desire to forgive. I didn’t realize until afterward what a huge burden I had been carrying. Pride is a heavy load and an unnecessary one. Feeling the Savior’s perfect love, however, was a sweet and humbling joy.