Mormon Messages

Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light

Episode 54

8:24
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Forgiveness and the power of Jesus Christ enable a man to survive losing his wife and several children in a car accident—and allow the offending driver to begin rebuilding his own life.

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Transcript

    13 [CLAP]

    Chris Williams. C-H-R-I-S W-I-L-L-I-A-M-S. On February 9, 2007, my family was hit by a drunk teenage driver. And killed in that accident was my wife, Michelle, who was expecting our fifth child, and then my second oldest son, Benjamin, and my only daughter, Anna.

    It was a Friday night like any other in our family. It was full of fun. We had gone out to dinner as a family. My oldest son was off with friends. I saw a pair of headlights coming at me at an incredibly fast rate of speed. So as I tried to do some maneuvers to get out of the way, it was too late. We were hit broadside or T-boned. As I surveyed the scene and saw my wife, I saw her chest go down and her last breath leave her body and I wanted to cry out for her to come back.

    The next sound I heard was of me wailing and grieving the fact that they were gone. It was as near to an out of body experience as I could have listening and realizing that I was the one making that sound. I've never felt so vulnerable in my life. I've never felt so crushed spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

    If you have a teenager out past midnight, you don't like to receive a call. I got up and took the phone. And on the other end of the line a man identified himself as being from the Salt Lake City Police Department. He told us that we had our son Cameron. He told us that Cameron was intoxicated, that he had been in an accident, that he was OK. And then he told us as a result of the accident that three people had been killed.

    We found out that Sam was the child who had survived. So we went up to the University Hospital where Chris's family were there. Even at that moment, we're all blubbering and crying. And Chris is laying on the gurney in a neck brace. And one of the first things he asks is, how is the young man who was driving the other car?

    For the first few months after the accident, I felt, I think, it was just the initial shock that such a huge part of my life was now gone. And that's a very difficult thing to go through, to kneel down and desire to speak to my Father in Heaven when I'm so lonely or when I'm so anguished.

    It's an interesting conversation to have. He doesn't immediately try and make it better, He listens to me first. And I thought that was very helpful. He allowed me to get that anger off my chest. But inevitably, He would always come back and teach me about His son, Jesus Christ.

    When I did feel anger or there was just a deep sense of loneliness, I didn't direct that at the person that had caused this. It directed itself at the Savior. As I looked out the driver's window and saw the overturned car that had hit us and struck us, in my heart I didn't know and in my mind I didn't understand or comprehend it, still how it had happened, or who had done it to us, or what the circumstances were. The only thing I remember feeling and sensing is that I needed to let this go.

    There is Jesus's way to resolve problems, to address situations, to handle sorrow. And then there's some other way. It's something that I think Chris clued into early in life. And so when the moment came for him in that car sitting there, I believe he had made the decision long ago what he would do if he was ever in that situation.

    About a year ago, Chris and Cameroon met for the first time and talked.

    The first time that I met him I was in a room, and he walked in, and he had a big smile on his face. And I had no smile because I'm facing the man that I'd done this two. He came and he gave me a handshake. He was completely willing to talk about what had happened that night, how he felt about it.

    Chris was able to say things that Cameron needed to hear. And he didn't mince words. He lit him know how he was feeling, what it meant.

    He wants me to let go of what had happened. He wants me pick a date and forget what had happened, just move on from what had happened completely. There's no way to explain it. It's an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness, of gratefulness, of strength to see him and to see how he's acted in this situation.

    After we went to the funeral, one of our neighbors, it was at the funeral, came up to us and said, have you read the article about Chris? And it was his article about forgiveness. My feeling was that I was just completely overcome. It was like being washed out. The despair was being washed out from my soul. And knowing that somebody like that could so freely forgive, it was freeing to me to know that he could respond in that fashion.

    The thought and sentiment I expressed as I sat down with Cameron was simply this, that if through the forgiveness or through anything else he had seen or heard about me doing after the accident, that he should know it was merely the Savior working through me. I had merely put myself in a situation to be a vessel through which the Spirit, through which His example, through which His knowledge, His intelligence, His brilliance could shine. That's really all I had to do, was to not get in the way of that. I wanted him to understand that I really didn't have much to do with any of the goodness that has come out of that.

    It's become more significant to me, the fact that he has forgiven me. And I know that's because he knows, and he has a testimony, and a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    I'm grateful that God allows tragedies and trials to occur in our lives. Not because they're easy or because they're desired, but because they help us love. And that too was a wonderful blessing because I saw my brother. Coming to know a man of sorrow and one who was acquainted with grief, as I've now come to understand, it was really why I was sent here. And it has been incredibly difficult to have to learn those lessons in the way that I've learned them. But I've always ended those episodes of grief with an assurance and hope that one day perhaps I will see Him because He is. One day, hopefully I will be like Him. And one day I will be with my wife again, as well as the rest of my family. And that's what keeps me moving forward.

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