Author: Linda Ambard
How does a person forgive the unforgivable? Almost four years ago, my Phil was taken from me in the very worst way possible, by someone he liked and trusted. With the death of Phil, I lost everything I had built for my life and future. I assumed we would grow old together, welcome grandchildren together, and even bury parents together. I expected It be able to say goodbye when the time came. I never thought I would be a young widow.
Sometimes, forgiveness of such an unfair and egregious crime seems far beyond my capabilities.
Forgiveness isn't something I can see happening in one decision. There isn't just one thing I can do to fully forgive. It is simply a process. Some days I feel further along the process than I was yesterday, and sometimes it feels like I will never be able to say that I'll be able to forgive. There are no magic wands, but I figured out early on that it was too easy to fill up my life with anger and pity parties that didn't give me back what I really wanted. The more I stood steeped in anger that was often misplaced, the longer I found hatred and bitterness creeping into my heart, robbing me of joy and life. I want life. If I relinquish my heart to anger, bitterness, and living in the past, then my soul was lost that day with Phil.
My faith has changed too. I prayed each and every day for Phil to come home safely. Many other people prayed with me. When Phil's broken body came home, I had a choice. I could be angry with God, or I could shift my understanding of faith. It is my belief that the person who killed Phil had a choice, and he chose evil. I really believe that Phil was received into heaven on that day. I hope that the angels were there in the room ministering to Phil and the other eight as evil played out that day.
Archbishop Tutu once said, "Without forgiveness there is no hope. Forgiving is giving up that the past can be any different." Those are powerful words. There is no amount of anger that will bring back my Phil. Many trauma survivors get stuck in the wanting of revenge. The heart is consumed by anger and pain. A person is changed. Forgiveness is not about restoring trust or forgetting; it is about the decision to not live in the purgatory of doubt and anger over what cannot be fixed no matter how much I want it. I do not have the answers, but I do know that I want my life to stand for more than anger, bitterness, and darkness. I want my life to shine and matter for those whose lives ended that day-far too soon.
I can't say I have fully forgiven, but it is something that I continue to work toward one small step at a time.