Sunday, June 28, 2009
I’m teaching the young women at church today. About forgiveness. There is a story I have always loved from the book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” by Spencer W. Kimball. He talks about a woman who “climbed the heights of self-control as she forgave the man who disfigured her lovely face.” He then gives the account from UP newsman Neal Corbett, as it appeared in newspapers throughout the country:
“I would think he must be suffering; anybody who’s like that, we ought to feel sorry for him,” said April Aaron of the man who had sent her to a hospital for three weeks, following a brutal San Francisco knife attack. April Aaron is a devout Mormon, 22 years of age… She is a secretary who’s as pretty as her name, but her face has just one blemish— the right eye is missing. April lost it to the ‘wildly slashing knife of a purse snatcher,’ near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park while en route to a [youth] dance last April 18. She also suffered deep slashes on her left arm and right leg during a struggle with her assailant, after she tripped and fell in her efforts to elude him just one block from the Mormon chapel…
“I ran for a block and a half before he caught me. You can’t run very fast on high heels,” April said with a smile. Slashes on her leg were so severe doctors feared for a time it would need amputation. The sharp edge of the weapon could damage neither April’s vivaciousness, nor her compassion. “I wish that somebody could do something for him to help him. He should have some treatment. Who knows what leads a person to do a thing like this? If they don’t find him, he’s likely to do it again.”
…April Aaron has won the hearts of the people of San Francisco Bay area with her courage and good spirit in face of tragedy. Her room at St. Francis hospital was banked with flowers throughout her stay and attendants said they couldn’t recall when anyone received more cards and expressions of good wishes.
Modern psychology would probably dictate that April was simply repressing the horror of the attack, and that it would eventually catch up with her. But that is not the case. I saw her for myself some years later, when I was about 12 years old. She was not April Aaron anymore, as she had married. She had a daughter my age, and although I had read that account in “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” my parents did not tell me that she was the woman from the story until later. All I saw was a pretty mom who was fun and had an awesome family.
I believe that only the Atonement of Jesus Christ has that kind of power. The kind where you can take something so terrible, and give it away. Drown it in the depths of the sea, where you remember it no more. And then take what you have been given, and make something truly beautiful. It certainly makes you think about hurts and offenses that you have not let go… why is it that in our human nature, and maybe more especially our feminine human nature, we find a perverse satisfaction in holding petty grudges and in feeling sorry for ourselves? I think that maybe it is because forgiveness requires faith... a leap we are sometimes unwilling or afraid to take. There was a thought from the lesson that I love. It was that forgiveness is not an act of feelings, but one of will. Can we decide to forgive?