"I forgive you!"
"Mommy!! Mommy!!!" those are the words that my daughter cried from the moment she was hit by a truck and for days to follow.
Upon arrival at the accident scene I ran to see my beautiful Ellie laying helpless in the middle of the road it terrible pain. I was at a loss wondering how I could help her. All I could do is be there in that moment.
When the paramedics arrived they were busy taking care of Ellie so I had a minute to look up to catch the eye of the young man who hit her. He was broken, sobbing and desperate. I couldn't help but think that could easily be my son in a few short years.
He was hunched over the driver seat with his legs hanging out of his truck. He was sobbing uncontrollably. "Oh Lord this poor boy" I thought. I stood up and walked toward him. I saw the people around me looking as I walked in his direction. I think they were wondering if I would scream at him, hit him, they just looked nervous. Was she (me) about to lose it on this teenage boy?
I grabbed his knee and said "please look at me!" "Look at me!!" With swollen teary eyes the boy looked at me with a great sadness on his face. I told him "you need to know something about Ellie. She is a child of God. No matter what happens today... whether she lives or dies... she is going to be okay. Our family will be okay!" "I need you to know that WE FORGIVE YOU!"
Forgiveness is an interesting word.
Forgiveness is defined: a) to pardon an offense or offender. b) to cease to feel resentment against. c) to give up all claim.
I had already forgiven the boy before I even arrived at the scene. I needed to forgive him because that is what God wants me to do.
I wanted to give up all claim and pardon the offense and the offender.
Colossians 3:13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has (freely) forgiven you, so must you also forgive.
I certainly had a grievance with this young man... He hit my daughter, throwing her over 120 feet and possibly making that the last moment I would ever see her again on earth.
Ephesians 4:32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another (readily and freely) as God in Christ forgave you.
Forgiveness is sometimes so difficult because just as an onion has many layers, forgiveness also does.
To think that you can forgive and never look back is naive and will set you up for failure. Forgiveness is a day to day process.
Since the accident there has been new evidence, new rumors, new understanding of what has taken place. There are days when I have to forgive again and again. But God has forgiven me and I will forgive this boy.
He does need to be held accountable for his part in the accident but I am not responsible for what the law does or doesn't do. I am responsible for the women of God I am called to be. I must forgive.
I must live my life different than what the others say is acceptable.
Unforgiveness feeds into bitterness, bitterness gives way to death.
Death of my relationship with God, death of my relationship with others.
Death of a life lived with hope and love.
If bitterness is watered and given permission to grow in your life it will plant roots into every area of your life. Even when you think it is contained in this little planter box it can spread, taking over the whole infrastructure that your foundation is made up of. Bitterness will choke the life out of "life."
Can I tell you a little secret though... the person that you are bitter with... will not be effected by your bitterness because their "offense" against you 1 may not even be known by them 2)they have already moved on 3) unaware of what their actions have done or the negative impact they have caused (in my case a daughter in the intensive care unit for 8 painful days, loss of three weeks wages... ect ect ect.) or 4)it was not their problem in the first place it was yours.
but guess what.... it does not matter! There is no place for bitterness in my life or yours!