September 8th 1974, President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon of all wrongdoing related to the Watergate affair. So International Pardon Day is celebrated on September 8th, and you could use this day to let go of any grudge or resentment or anger against anyone who has hurt you. Forgiving your offender is not letting him or her off the hook, nor condoning this act, but rather it is setting you free.
– Steve Maraboli
What is known about forgiveness is that it is an act that brings happiness to those who give it, one can release the hold on the negative emotions they’re harboring in themselves, but they cannot release the associated guilt for the person who committed the act. As a result, forgiveness is for the one giving it, rather than the one who committed the transgression. Research has shown that those who have chosen to give up resentments live longer lives as a result to an improvement in their cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Three Ordinary People Who Did The Extraordinary Act: They Forgive Their Loved Ones Killers
Jesse Lewis was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School, CT shooting, a few hours after he had written, “I love you’ on his mom’s frosty car door as he left for school. His mother was very angry at the shooter and his mother but then she chose to forgive. Scarlett Lewis told The Forgiveness Project, “Forgiveness felt like I was given a big pair of scissors to cut the tie and regain my personal power. It started with a choice and then became a process.”
- Christopher Williams, a LSD BIshop, and his family were going home one night from a basketball game on February 9th 2007, when a drunk teen smashed into their car and then ran away. His pregnant wife Michelle, 11-year-old son Ben, and nine-year-old daughter Anna were killed.
Chris said, “Moments after the accident, as I knew my wife and children were gone, I heard a voice as plain as day that said, ‘Just let it go.’”Overcome with grief and guilt, Chris chose to forgive the offender and even pleaded with the court to try him as a juvenile instead of an adult. So the young man would only serve until he was 21 years instead of a 30-year sentence. Chris used his faith to forgive. The young man got a second chance from his victim, turned his life around, and when he got married a few years later, Chris Williams attended his wedding.Chris is now remarried as well and is a guest speaker who travels the United States, talking about the power of forgiveness. He wrote about his tragedy and it is now a new film “Just Let Go,” which is based on Chris’ remarkable story. The movie is in selected theaters now. It stars Henry Ian Cusick, Brenda Vaccaro and Sam Sorbo.
Kathy and Bob McIntosh had four year old twins: a boy and girl, and happily married with successful careers.Their lives would change on New Year’s Eve, Bob went to quiet down a rowdy party next door thrown by his neighbor’s teenage son. It would prove to be a fatal mistake as he was punched and kicked to death. The kids there that night were not talking and they formed “A Bond of Silence”. Kathy’s story was made into a movie on lifetime, Bond of Silence.
But Kathy decided to forgive the killer, and this what she says, “Whether victim or perpetrator, part of being human is rolling up our sleeves and taking an active part in repairing harm. My children had lost their father and I did not want them to lose me in the process. If I had been consumed by hatred, anger and vengeance, what kind of mother would I be? Something happened when Bob died and I found my voice. Forgiveness became an opportunity to create a new and hopeful beginning”.
Three people and their families who suffered senseless losses and should be consumed by hatred and anger, but all three of them chose to forgive. Hopefully most of us do not have to suffer as Scarlett, Kathy and Chris did, but we all have been hurt sometime in our lives. Whether it is a parent, sibling, spouse, in-law, friend, neighbor or co-worker, or stranger, today is the day that maybe we could forgive and let go of that hatred or anger or resentment.
Three Simple Ways To Forgive
Forgiveness is a choice.
We can choose to forgive our transgressors, and by doing so, we are doing ourselves a favor. So many victims have said that once they have decided to forgive the offender, it as if a toxic weight was lifted off their shoulder. We can get bogged down with hatred and anger, and our whole life becomes consumed with the offender and the act. When we do that we give the perpetrator control over our lives. When we are hurt by someone, we want them to suffer, or we want justice, or we want an apology. Until then we live in agony and resentment. We give our power away to the person who has hurt us. We can regain that power by choosing to forgive which sets us free and give us peace of mind.
Forgiveness is a process.
Forgiveness is a process and it does not happen overnight. We have to work through our feelings and this takes time and energy and for many does not come easily. We have to deal with the anger, fear, resentment, hatred and bitterness, and replace them with peace, kindness and tenderness.
Put your thoughts on paper.
We do not have to face our transgressors if we do not wish to, but we can write down our feelings on paper. Start writing how you feel and tell them how their action has affected you. describe your deepest emotions and thoughts about how your life has changed. Writing could become a healthy outlet for your anger as you can tell them everything you want to say. It could take an hour or a day or a week or months to finish that letter. The letter ends when you can write down, I forgive you. You don’t have to send it if you don’t want to. You could burn it and as it goes up in flame, release all the hurt and pain with it.
On International Pardon Day, we are reminded to forgive someone, and let go of the grudge or hatred or resentment. Free yourself from the toxicity of holding unto hurtful feelings and watch yourself soar as you let go. Remember none of us is perfect, only God is. So pick up the phone, or send an email, or write that letter.
In our comment section, let us know how you forgive someone, and the feelings that you experienced when you let go.