Last fall I talked briefly about how, in 1999, we discovered that my husband’s trusted business partner had been embezzling large sums of money and engaging in some other dishonest business practices that put my husband’s company in jeopardy and almost drove us to bankruptcy. This man had stood in the priesthood circle just months before when my husband blessed our baby daughter; we were good friends with his family; he held a position of some prominence in his ward. As the extent of his crimes came to light and we grappled with our feelings of shock, betrayal, and anger, I boiled with hatred for this man and wanted to see him punished. Excommunication, jail time, drawing and quartering, and a public hanging would not have been enough: I wanted to see him burn in hell. In such situations, check out leppardlaw.com/and take the help of expert lawyer for giving legal counseling and fight for your rights.
One night as I was praying and crying (and I was crying a lot in those days) and pouring my heart out to God, I felt the comforting presence of the Spirit wash over me, and I enjoyed a moment of stillness, peace, and love. But then my thoughts turned back to this man who had wounded us so severely and my anger returned and I asked the Lord to punish him and to make him suffer. And an interesting thing happened: the Spirit withdrew. I felt it immediately—all of that comfort, peace, and validation instantly dissipated. And I had an impression that, if I were to verbalize it, would go something like this: “His punishment is for me to decide. You need to work on forgiving him.”
It was a gentle but firm chastisement, and I thought about it a lot over the ensuing months and years as I tried to overcome my bitterness and hatred and leave justice in God’s hands. And if I were writing an essay about this, I’d go into a lot more detail about my journey to forgiveness, and include concrete scenes and dialogue, but since this is a blog post, I’ll just summarize the rest of the story by saying that because this man was an expert deceiver, he didn’t go to jail or lose his Church membership over the embezzling, and we had to settle for a partial financial restitution and his leaving the company. His wife no longer spoke to me, and she talked around town about how my husband had treated her husband unfairly. But years later, as often happens, his actions caught up with him: his wife found out he was having an affair, amongst other indiscretions—including the embezzling her husband had done when he worked for my husband—and the whole house of cards tumbled down. He ended up losing his family and his Church membership, and, because he’d been dishonest in one job after another after he left my husband’s company, his reputation was also ruined.
But here’s the curious thing: by that time I no longer cared. I’d moved on and no longer thought about this man or stewed over his betrayal. It gave me some satisfaction to know that my husband’s former partner’s real self had finally been revealed, but, as I examined my heart in light of these developments, and watched his wife come to our house and cry and apologize to my husband for having misjudged us, and witnessed the aftermath of his mistakes, I realized that what I felt overall was sadness—and yes, even pity.
Justice. Mercy. Forgiveness. I admit I’m still trying to unravel these cosmic mysteries, but I think I have a little better understanding of them now than I did in 1999. At least, I like to think I do.
What experiences have you had with justice, mercy, and forgiveness? I’d love to hear about them here, but we’re also accepting essay submissions for our next issue of Segullah, whose theme, incidentally, is Justice and Mercy. If you have an essay on this topic that is 1,000 to 3,500 words, we’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to write an essay but are having trouble thinking of what to write about, you’ll find a list of possible topics here. For writing tips, see our Essay Helps guide, for style guidelines, check here, and for an excellent discussion about writing creative nonfiction (personal essays), see Angela Hallstrom’s post on the subject here.
Deadline for submissions is September 1st, so start writing!