Have you ever had trouble forgiving someone? I mean, some things are just unforgivable. Right? I just finished reading a recently published book about forgiveness which I found to be very inspirational: Taming the Tokolash – Through Fear into Healing: A Trauma Survivor’s True Story, written by Mandy Bass. This is a story about a woman who was brutally attacked by a young man and how she forgave him – an act that changed his life, and hers – forever.
On Super Bowl Sunday 2016, a young man broke into Bass’ Florida home and violently beat her. She suffered a broken arm, bruises, a concussion and a severe head injury. Her attacker had taken LSD the day before, which lead to a violent rage. She later discovered that the young man – Kevin Jakman – was a straight-A senior student at the local college who had never been in trouble, and the violent act he committed was completely out of his character.
In the book, Bass describes the healing process and how she was able to forgive Jakman. He was facing a life sentence for his crime, and while she awaited the trial, Bass decided that she wanted to learn more about him and to meet him in person. At their meeting, Jakman walked into the room and started to shake, then began to sob. Bass put her arms around him and told him that she forgave him. They talked for a long time about the attack and about Jakman’s life. Bass advocated for him and instead of getting a prison sentence, the charges against him were downgraded. He got probation, and the two became friends.
By choosing forgiveness over anger, Bass had not only changed the fate of her attacker’s life, but also her own. By forgiving him, she was able to let go of her anger and resentment, allowing her to heal.
In some cases, forgiveness never happens, as in the case of Tonya Harding, the figure skater involved in the Nancy Kerrigan scandal who claims she was abused by her mother. In a recent interview with ABC Morning News Anchor, Amy Robach, Harding said, ““I don’t want her (her mother) anywhere near me. I don’t want her anywhere near my son. She wants forgiveness. She wants to see me. She wants to make amends. She wants to meet and be part of the family. Hell, no.”
There are two examples here. As in Harding’s case, a person’s actions are sometimes impossible to forgive. Bass’ example of forgiveness, I believe, can inspire and help many people.
I have learned, in my own personal experience, that while it can be extremely hard to do, forgiveness is necessary. I can stay stuck in anger, or I can move on. I choose to move on!