Question to ponder today: How easy is it for you to forgive?
A lot of us would answer, “it depends on what the person did.” After all, some offenses are easier to forgive than others.
I think about this regarding myself. Spill something at my house? No problem forgiving that. Forget my name? It would be hypocritical of me not to forgive that, since I do it often enough (I mean forget other people’s names, I can usually remember my own). Cut me off in traffic? While that’s a tough one for some people, I can generally forgive that without wishing harm on the other driver.
But I will admit that there are scenarios for me where forgiveness is a lot harder. The biggest one? Family. You can go after me all you want, and in general I can forgive that. But if you go after my family … well, then we have a real problem.
And if you actually did harm to someone I love … my instinct would be to pay you back. I would certainly struggle with wishing you well. And forgiveness? That would be tough.
So I ask you for a moment to consider the family of Botham Jean, a young man who was killed by an off-duty police officer who says she mistook his apartment for hers. The case, which took place in Dallas, Texas, caught a lot of attention because Jean was black and the officer, Amber Guyger, is white.
According to the article I read on www.abcnews.go.com, Guyger was found guilty of murder. The same jury that convicted her proceeded to sentence her to 10 years in prison.
Not everyone was happy with that sentence. The District Attorney had suggested that she be incarcerated a minimum of 28 years — one for each year of Jean’s life. Most of the victim’s family seemed to feel it was too light a sentence.
But then there was Brandt Jean, the 18-year-old brother of Botham Jean. He took the stand (apparently after the sentencing) and spoke directly to Guyger.
He told her that “I love you just like anyone else.” He said he forgave her and that if she went to God and asked Him, He would forgive her too.
The young man didn’t look totally comfortable on the stand but pressed on. He said that he thought his brother would want the best for her, and he did as well. That the best thing would be for her to give her life to Christ.
Then, he asked the judge if he could hug Guyger. He wanted to embrace the woman who’d needlessly taken the life of his brother. Get that?
The judge granted his request, and in front of the judge’s bench Brandt Jean embraced a weeping Guyger.
At this point in the video, I admit it got a bit dusty in my office.
Could you do that? Could you forgive the killer of your loved one and wish the best for them? Could you then embrace them and give them comfort?
I want to say I’m that good, but I don’t know if I am. I don’t know if I could sit there merely a few months or a year after the event and say I forgave the person and mean it. It would be hard. It would mean laying aside my own pain and being merciful to someone who didn’t deserve it.
I hope I can become that kind of person. But I hope I never have to find out if I’m capable of that kind of forgiveness. Brandt Jean was, and for that he’s my hero.