Among the stories shared in General Conferences from the past few years, one of my favorites for its wisdom comes from President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, in the April 2011 conference. His talk, “Guided by the Holy Spirit,” offers this story dealing with forgiveness:
Latter-day Saints are taught to love one another and to frankly forgive offenses.
My life was changed by a saintly patriarch. He married his sweetheart. They were deeply in love, and soon she was expecting their first child.
The night the baby was born, there were complications. The only doctor was somewhere in the countryside tending to the sick. After many hours of labor, the condition of the mother-to-be became desperate. Finally, the doctor was located. In the emergency, he acted quickly and soon the baby was born, and the crisis, it appeared, was over. But some days later, the young mother died from the very infection that the doctor had been treating at another home that night.
The young man’s world was shattered. As the weeks wore on, his grief festered. He thought of little else, and in his bitterness he became threatening. Today, no doubt, he would have been pressed to file a malpractice suit, as though money would solve anything.
One night a knock came at his door. A little girl said simply, “Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.”
“Daddy” was the stake president. The counsel from that wise leader was simply “John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone.”
This had been my friend’s trial. How could he leave it alone? A terrible wrong had been committed. He struggled to get hold of himself and finally determined that he should be obedient and follow the counsel of that wise stake president. He would leave it alone.
He said, “I was an old man before I understood and could finally see a poor country doctor—overworked, underpaid, run ragged from patient to patient, with little medicine, no hospital, few instruments, struggling to save lives, and succeeding for the most part. He had come in a moment of crisis, when two lives hung in the balance, and had acted without delay. I finally understood!” He said, “I would have ruined my life and the lives of others.”
Many times he had thanked the Lord on his knees for a wise priesthood leader who counseled simply, “John, leave it alone.”
“Let it go.” Many times we need this kind of inspired counsel in our lives as we become obsessed with retribution, vengeance, or our own lofty definitions of justice. Many times our fruitless and hurtful pursuits would have been better dropped. Take a moment today to prayerfully examine some of your own grievances against others and consider whether the Lord is trying to urge you to be more wise and just let it go.