Every so often I want to refer to this story, and every time I have to look it up again. Maybe next time I won’t have to spend so much time finding it. When I was a young girl, a tragedy took place in our ward family – my sister’s best friend was killed. And since we were just a year apart, she was my friend as well. Even decades later, I’m impressed with the example her parents and family set for the rest of us. Here is Bishop Hulme’s story as shared in an Ensign article long ago (April 1993).
In November 1973, ten-year-old Kelly Hulme was walking from school to her home. While crossing through an orchard, she was accosted by a teenaged boy who dragged her into a vacant house and killed her. The young man who murdered Kelly was convicted shortly thereafter and sentenced to a life term for his crime.
Paul Hulme, a former LDS bishop then serving as a high councilor, faced the challenge of his life. Kelly was his youngest daughter. To have her life cut short so brutally assaulted his sense of justice and brought him to a crisis of faith. His pain, intense enough at the loss of one he loved so much, was compounded by feelings of anger and bitterness that began stirring in his heart. He sought comfort from the Lord for himself and for his grieving wife and family.
As he prayed for strength, he found solace in the knowledge that Kelly was in the loving hands of her Heavenly Father, secure from the cares of this world. He also recognized that the growing bitterness in his heart, if not resolved, could seriously threaten his future peace of mind and spiritual well-being.
He found that his thoughts, guided gently by the Spirit, began to turn to the parents and family of the young man, who was then in jail awaiting trial. He knew that his daughter was safe and content, but what of the young man responsible for her death? What hope did he have of forgiveness and peace? And what of the boy’s family, also grieving at the loss of one they loved but uncomforted by any knowledge that all was well with their son and brother?
Bishop Hulme decided to visit their home and offer whatever comfort and support was his to give. As he met with the boy’s family, he explained that he understood the anguish they must be feeling. But even as he shared his concern, he sensed that the family did not fully comprehend his motives or the message he brought. He came to understand that this home had never been touched by such simple Christian principles as faith and charity. It was unclear to Bishop Hulme whether he had accomplished any good by his visit. Nonetheless, a miracle occurred in his own heart as he felt bitterness and anger melt away, replaced instead with charity. His life would be forever changed because of his forgiving heart.
It was a surprising treat to be able to see this powerful role model once again at our son’s wedding. And today I even found a magazine article spotlighting him. (Be sure and read the very last sentence, which makes it applicable to this post.)