According to the American Psychological Association, “Forgiveness involves willfully putting aside feelings of resentment toward someone who has committed a wrong, been unfair or hurtful, or otherwise harmed you in some way.”
Forgiveness is what Lehi resident Dennis Meyring has recently put into practice. Meyring has been an educator for 30 years in Alpine School District, with 23 years at Lehi High School as a teacher and coach and an additional 15 years in Oxnard School District in California. Meyring desired to “make a difference in the lives of young people.” He was inspired by his high school and junior college swim coach, Frank Wetmore, in his hometown of Vallejo, California.
Meyring made a difference at Lehi High School, as he positively influenced many students he taught and coached throughout his years as an educator.
For Christmas in 2005, Meyring’s daughter, Julie, gave him a special gift, a picture of John Wayne, who Meyring also admired. He hung the picture in a prominent place in the classroom so it could be enjoyed by his students and those passing by in the hall. In 2014, after the summer break, the picture was missing from the classroom. Meyring could not find it at the school and determined it had been stolen.
“I realized that the picture was not just missing but likely stolen. I never thought I would see it again,” said Meyring. “It was such a big disappointment to have that picture gone from the wall that I never filled the empty space. I was just hopeful that it might suddenly return at some time. The picture meant a lot to me as it was a very thoughtful gift from my daughter.”
When Meyring retired from teaching in 2017, he decided he would not see the stolen picture again. Earlier last year, however, Meyring did see it again.
“As I was opening the shutters on each side of our front door, I looked outside and could not believe what I was seeing, leaning against one of our bushes by the porch, was the missing picture of John Wayne,” he said. “It was truly exciting to have this meaningful gift returned.”
As Meyring brought the picture inside, he noticed a sticky note attached to the picture that read, “Swim Coaches retire, but so too do thieves. J&M.”
The more Meyring thought about the picture being returned in the exact condition that it was taken, the more he realized that a great effort had been made to return it undamaged.
“Finding my address and then my house took some effort,” said Meyring. “I am so grateful to have it back and would want those who took the picture to know that I certainly forgive them and thank them for keeping the picture in the exact condition it was when it left my classroom. I wish ‘J&M’ the best for the rest of their lives,” said Meyring.
Meyring is filled with gratitude and feels that forgiveness leads to feelings of empathy and compassion.
“I truly hope that ‘J&M’ might see this story and know of my gratitude for the return of the picture. I hope that others might relieve themselves of burdens of wrong-doing,” said Meyring.