When we struggle to do something hard, it helps to have an example to follow.
Forgiving someone is difficult – it’s so hard that people go their entire lives carrying grudges. Friendships are split apart. Family members caught in heated arguments will up and die before absolving each other of slights.
This week, an example on how to forgive rose to the top, from the case of Botham Jean. Botham was shot and killed by an off-duty cop in his own apartment. The officer, Amber Guyger, had said she’d mistakenly entered his unit believing it to be her own, and shot Botham believing him to be a burglar.
She was convicted of First-Degree Murder, and the family would have every right to hate her for taking Botham from them.
Instead, Brandt Jean, Botham’s 18-year-old brother, forgave her.
“If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you,” Brandt said to Guyger in court. “And I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.”
He said he wanted the best for her, and then embraced Guyger.
I saw this earlier in the week when the news broke, and thought, “dang it.”
With that level of humanity on display, all my excuses to hold onto petty grudges and ill-will just sort of crumbled to ash.
The bad feelings I’ve been harboring are tiny things compared to the loss Brandt and his family suffered, but this 18-year-old guy showed the moral character to forgive the woman who’d wronged him, where I was still clinging to the past and my negative thoughts.
I’m sort of left with nowhere to hide now. A few years ago, I discovered a friend of mine, someone who’d really been close to me, had been lying to me and others in our friend group. I realized this person had been emotionally manipulative, twisting my desire to be a good friend towards their own gain. When I realized the truth, it was a gut-punch, and I was more hurt than I’ve ever been. Probably than I ever will be.
And I carried the rage and pain from that betrayal for years, letting that venom boil in my blood, even after this friend approached me and the others they’d hurt asking for forgiveness. I’d just refused to give it. Clinging to those feelings gave me a feeling of protection, like it would prevent the same from happening again.
Recently I’ve been trying to let go of that anger, but it’s been hard for me. I’m so slow to trust people, and being duped like that really stings, but I have been trying.
Like I said, forgiveness is hard.
Thankfully there are stronger people than me out there that can show how such a thing is done.
If Brandt can forgive the woman who killed his brother, I can let go of a petty grudge. It’s just not worth clinging to any longer.