Forgiveness is not an easy thing for me. Maybe it is for you.
I’ve struggled with it throughout my life especially with what I consider, major transgressions against me and my family. There were two huge events in my life that required me to forgive people that, quite frankly, I didn’t want to forgive but God had other plans for me.
Garrett’s helicopter crash was not caused by enemy fire; it was due to an error made by a mechanic. When it first happened, I wanted that person to pay for his irresponsibility, to pay for killing not just my son but all fourteen sons. The other moms of these fallen soldiers and I talked about it a lot for the first couple of years following the accident. We were all so hurt, we wanted someone to pay. But after a while I was able to have some compassion for this poor person. Though I’m certain it was an accident, he probably knew what he forgot to do, and he must live with knowing that his mistake cost fourteen lives.
The other event was when my father was murdered back in 1985 and it never has been solved. His story was even featured on the television show, “Unsolved Mysteries” back in 1992 and has been shown again several times over the years. Each time it only stirs up opinions but never any leads or answers. For many years I wanted vengeance; I wanted payback. I wanted this person caught and brought to justice and in Texas that would probably mean the death penalty. I was angry and hurt and I wanted justice. It didn’t take long to realize that our justice system was not going to get the job done. The investigators were so busy trying to prove that dad had faked his death, stolen money, and skipped the country that they never focused on finding his murderer.
I shared my frustration with our pastor and he was kind enough to share with me a scripture which would allow me to let go of my anger and desire for revenge. Romans chapter 12 verse 19 says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’” There was great comfort for me in this passage. For I knew that God’s vengeance or justice would be far better than any justice our earthly system had to offer.
“I forgive you.” That is easier said than done sometimes. Forgiving the person who didn’t do his job correctly which led to the crash that killed my son — Did I have to forgive him? Forgiving the person who murdered my father– forgive him? Really?
I found this quote from Corrie Ten Boom that helped me, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” The bitterness that comes from unforgiveness was creeping in on me. I knew that I did not want to live the rest of my life bitter. I’d seen that in other women I knew and didn’t want that for myself. I also knew that forgiveness was required of me by the Lord. In the Message version of the Bible, in Matthew 6 verses 14-15, it says, “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” Well, I was certain that I did not want to be cut off from God’s forgiveness nor did I want to be disobedient to Him. I had to forgive them all.
Honestly, I am not always able to leave my hurt and anger with God; I tend to try to take them back to handle them on my own. But after praying and giving each situation to God to handle for me, the desire for revenge and the anger left me. I truly left it with God and it has never bothered me again.
I have now forgiven these people, completely. That doesn’t mean that I am okay with what they did or that the anger over what they did doesn’t sometimes raise its ugly head, but I have forgiven them, and I’m trusting God to take care of it for me.
Look in your life, is there someone that you need to forgive? Maybe someone from long ago or just the other day. Ask God to bring them to mind and then ask Him to help you forgive them. Then I hope you too can trust Him to take care of it for you.
He is always faithful.