I recently learned of an Iranian mom who chose forgiveness just before her son’s murderer had his death sentence carried out. Her decision was not mere lip service. By choosing forgiveness, she also chose to pardon her son’s killer. It’s hard to imagine the very real scene. The killer stands on a chair with a noose around his neck. The family of the victim is free to kick the chair out from underneath the culprit. Or, as they did in this case, they can remove the noose. The mom chose to forgive. Forgiveness can change a life. In Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, this is dramatically portrayed. You probably know the story. A convicted felon leaves prison with nothing. The kindness of a church bishop provides him food and a place to stay, but he repays the kindness by stealing silver from the church. He is caught and returned to the bishop before he is taken back to prison. But the bishop claims the silver was a gift and asks the thief why he didn’t take the rest of the silver he was offered? The felon, so overwhelmed by this act of forgiveness, is transformed.
One common thread in the above stories is that in both instances, forgiveness wasn’t just mere words, but action. The mom and bishop both did what was unfair to them personally. They loved and forgave.
If you are like me, you probably have wrestled with how to teach your children that life is unfair. Life doesn’t always give us what we think we deserve. What better way to teach our children this point and show them how to best deal with this certainty of life than to demonstrate forgiveness? Show them what it is like to forgive and how that forgiveness changes you and, very possibly, the person you forgive. Instead of raising cynical kids, maybe we will raise them to take the difficulties of life and use them to become healthy and whole adults.
For me, the direction of my life took a dramatic turn when I accepted God’s offer of forgiveness through His Son. When I understood my need for God to be unfair to Himself in order to rescue me from myself, I was as overwhelmed as the thief in Victor Hugo’s story.
If you have a story to share, or questions on how God’s forgiveness changed my story, I would love to hear from you.