An excerpt from The Peacegiver, published by Deseret Book.
Perhaps you are wondering what happened.
After Rick climbed the stairs, he apologized as he never really had before, for he meant it in a deep way that he’d never really felt before. No part of him apologized in order to extract some confession or acknowledgement from Carol. Whether she needed to apologize to him for anything was so far from his mind and heart that the thought never occurred to him. All he felt was sorrow and desire: sorrow for loving her less than she deserved to be loved, for bringing her pain, for scarring her soul; and desire to fill in whatever scars he had caused, no matter how long it took.
Her response to his apology wasn’t important. For once in his life, he wasn’t saying something to her in order to elicit a particular response. He was simply loving her. He climbed the stairs with no strings attached.
It wouldn’t surprise you, would it, if Carol heard Rick’s words skeptically? It wouldn’t have surprised Rick either, given all the sour history they had shared. He fully expected Carol to reject whatever he said to her as just so many words. The prospect didn’t bother him, for he knew that this time they weren’t just words. How could he expect anything but skepticism after all the bitter words and looks he had hurled her direction?
How utterly surprised and humbled he was when she said, “You really mean it, don’t you?”
“Yes, Carol, I do. I’m so sorry.”
To which Carol then said, “Oh, Rick, I’m the one who needs to apologize.”
It didn’t have to be that way, of course. She could just as easily have said, bitterly, “Why should I believe you this time when you’ve never really meant it in the past?” Rick would have understood that, and in that moment, he wouldn’t have loved her any less for it.
Of course, somehow, some way – for our own sakes – we, as Carol, need to accept the apologies of our Ricks. When we finally do, we will realize, as Carol did, that failure to receive an apology is something that needs repenting of as fully as failing to give one. It is the Savior, after all, who is apologizing. Rick was just giving voice to the feelings and words that the Lord formulated for him in Gethsemane.
How did Rick do after that initial apology? And how did Carol do in response to him? It is tempting to think that these are the important questions, as if the rest of the story will tell us the remainder of what we need to know. But did we need to know Jonah’s answer to the Lord’s question?
What more do I need than knowledge of the atonement? What more do I need than to come to Him? What more do I need than a broken heart? What more do I need than his Spirit – the Comforter – which will teach me “all things what I should do”?
The question for me is not what Rick said or did after he climbed the stairs and over the ensuing days and weeks. It is rather what I need to say or do after climbing the stairs in my own life. And then what I need to keep saying and keep doing.
“Should not I spare Rick?” “Should not I spare Carol?”
This is what the Lord asks of us.
Since we are Rick and we are Carol, the Lord prays, for our sakes, that we will answer mercifully.
Printed with permission of Deseret Book Company