"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
January 16, 2013
Story of Tragedy, Forgiveness, and Peace Rings True in ‘Let It Go’
by Laurie Williams Sowby

Let it Go: A True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness, by Chris Williams, Shadow Mountain, 151 pages in hard cover, $17.99.

On a cold February night six years ago, Chris Williams’ life was changed in an instant when a 17-year-old drunk driver crashed into his car at high speed, instantly killing his pregnant wife, son, and daughter and critically injuring another son and himself.

And in that moment of profound loss, this husband and father made the decision to forgive.

His story has been told by news outlets and appears as a video interview on Mormon Messages (see “My Burden Was Made Light” on lds.org). About anyone who watches can’t help but be touched by his generosity and the spirit of peace he embodies. Many want to know how he was able to “let it go.”

What many don’t realize is that there’s much more to the story. Chris Williams came to understand that he needed to share more of how he came to that instant decision to forgive the young driver, and how he has found peace and the ability to move forward with his life since that tragic day.

Let It Go, published by Shadow Mountain, is intended to reach beyond the Latter-day Saint audience, even though the author was bishop of a Salt Lake City ward when the accident took his family. It is an honest account of the author’s feelings of loss and despair and the simultaneous knowledge deep down that it would be okay. He details the unforgettable moments immediately before and after the accident and testifies again and again of the power of prayer to bring peace. He tells of tender mercies he received throughout this trial and healing process. The reader is repeatedly in awe of his eternal perspective.

The evolving story periodically recounts events earlier in Williams’ life that strengthened his faith and prepared him to deal with the tragedy, including a time when he was 16 and accidentally hit a child who had darted into the street; the boy died later at the hospital. Just days after the boy’s funeral, the child’s mother sent Williams a letter urging him to “Take courage, Chris, lean on your testimony, all that you’ve learned of God IS true. Now, let it comfort you and work for Him in every other way he has in store for you.”

The young Chris Williams found the words from a grieving mother both inspired and inspiring. More than 20 years later, the Chris Williams who’d lost much of his family in a horrible tragedy remembered them. From his hospital bed, he asked that the young driver’s name be added to the prayer roll at the temple; at the hearing, he asked that “people would seek for peace and healing rather than looking for retribution.” He reached out to the driver’s parents and later met the young man; he continues to encourage him in using the tragic experience for good.

The author’s honesty about the “brutal loneliness” he felt, his depression, and the struggles of his two surviving sons makes his accounts of “tender mercies” all the more real. He is witness to the fact that hope can be found in the darkest hour, that the weight of heavy burdens can be lifted. He has put the doctrine to the test.

“Half of my family has been taken from this life,” he writes in the last chapter, “and as we have given that incredible burden to the lord, He has run to us with healing in His wings. What a wondrous miracle it has been my blessing to behold. . .

“We have an advocate who has been given the power and authority to carry all of our burdens, and yet I have met so many people looking and praying for the strength to carry their own.”

His final line in the book invites the reader to act: “What burden could you lay at the Savior’s feet today that He might be allowed to work miracles in your life?”

In sharing his experience in Let It Go, Chris Williams has turned a tragedy into a blessing for others.

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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