If you know anything about me at all, it is my penchant for forgiveness. I talk about it all the time, and push it all the time. I feel that it is the key to life. So many people are hurting out there, and many are wallowing in self-pity and hurt. If we could only choose to forgive those who hurt us, we would be healed, and be able to move on. I was blessed, and that’s the only way I know how to put it, that I can choose to forgive someone easily. I cannot stay mad. I never stay mad. I think my longest “mad” time was perhaps a couple of hours? My usual length of time mad is five minutes or under. Just ask any of my family, my son, or my hubby!
ANGER HURTS MY STOMACH
When I am angry or hurt, I get this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. It literally makes me feel sick. I can’t stand it. I have to get rid of that feeling. And so what do I do about it? I tackle the problem, or face the issue right on. If it means going to confront someone, I will. I have no problem being blunt and saying what I think. I have learned in the last few years to be careful with my words, and as my stepdad pointed out years ago, “taste your words before you spit them out!” Yes, indeed. You can confront someone, but it doesn’t need to be in a hostile manner.
GO CONFRONT, BUT GENTLY
I remember years ago I had a co-worker who I felt was always giving me a funny odd look every time they saw me. It was bothering me to a point where I finally made my way to that person’s office and asked if we could briefly chat. During that conversation I said point blank, “I get the feeling that I annoy you, and you don’t like me very much, because of how you react when I walk by, and by the looks you give me.” Well, that person was horrified, and said it wasn’t true. What was funny is after that I was always greeted with a VERY enthusiastic “HI DONNA!” and a huge grin every time I saw them. Wow! I guess everything was okay, but it was bothering me to a point that I had to confront.
So – in saying that, be careful how you confront, because there might not be any truth to what you are feeling. Let me also point out that most people do NOT like being confronted. At All. Nope. Especially if they are in the wrong, and you’ve just pointed it out. It’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating. Most of us don’t like our pride taking a knock in the teeth. When I confront, it’s not about being right, it’s about getting rid of the angst that I’m carrying in my stomach. Usually it’s me that ends up doing the apologizing!
THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS UNFORGIVEABLE
Back to my topic. When tragedy strikes, we need to learn how to forgive. I don’t believe there is anything that is unforgiveable. I mean that. No matter how horrible it may be. If someone truly repents and is sorry, forgive them. If someone doesn’t apologize or own up to what they did? Forgive them anyway.
Once you release forgiveness to someone, it cuts the ties between you. There is no longer a connection, or a hold. It’s gone. You don’t need to think about the offence, or bring it up again. It’s done. Over. No amount of agonizing over it will ever bring it back. All that’s left is what you choose to focus on in your mind. If you choose to stay angry, you only hurt yourself. How is staying angry at someone going to affect them? It’s not! Pure foolishness! Think of it that way the next time you decide to not forgive. Are you being wise, or are you being foolish? Staying angry is being foolish. All you do is affect your own health, and you’ll start building up an unhealthy dose of poison in your body.
FORGIVE EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT SORRY
I’ve had some pretty awful things happen to me in my life. Some things I am willing to share, others things I cannot, because of how it would affect people in my family. Some secrets are not meant to be shared on a public blog. Therefore, I will share what I can, so that you can understand where I’m coming from.
MY DAD WAS KILLED BY A DRUNK DRIVER
For those of you who are not my immediate friends or family, what you don’t know about me is that my father was killed by a drunk driver when I was twenty five years old. I got the phone call on a late Saturday afternoon. When the phone call came in, my dad was still alive, fighting for his life in the hospital. Once we arrived, it was too late, he had already passed away due to his injuries. What a shock.
I am the type of person who does not fall apart. I’d describe myself more of a rock. Those first couple of weeks were really hard, but because I was supporting and comforting my mother, I felt that I handled it well. I went back to work after a week, because in all honesty, life goes on. There is time to grieve, and then you have to allow yourself to move on. If you don’t, you’ll stay stuck your whole life. Be prepared people – life is never fair. It will NEVER be fair. Anyone who tells you differently is lying, or in denial.
MY DAD WAS A CHRISTIAN WHO FORGAVE
My dad was amazing. He was also a bible believing Christian. After we left the hospital, I felt so strongly that I needed to connect with the driver that had hit my dad. I called the RCMP, and told them that I wanted to write the driver a letter, and they gave me his address. Not something you can do anymore, with all the privacy laws! And obviously they trusted that I was a normal, sane person who wasn’t going to drive to his house for revenge and do something stupid! I told the police that we (my mom and I) wanted to express that we forgave him for what happened.
Armed with the address of Mr. Frank Kennedy, I wrote out a letter to the man who killed my dad. I still have a copy. One of the things I said to him was this: “My dad was a very strong Christian, and I know that he would want us to forgive you. He was a praying man, and I know he would also want us to pray for you as well.” I sent the letter.
THE COURT CASE
Months later when the court case came up, I attended along with my mom and sisters. As we waited to be seated, we saw Frank from a distance. He was there with another man who we found out later was his brother. Court convened, but the trial wasn’t finished yet and we had to go back for a second day.
MEETING THE MAN WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY DAD’S DEATH
The next day, there was a court recess, and as we all headed out, I boldly walked over to Frank Kennedy. He was standing with his brother again. I introduced myself as Donna, the middle daughter of Bob Bayley. I looked him straight in the eye, and said, “I’m the one who wrote you a letter.” Frank immediately started crying, and took my hands in his hands. “I am SO sorry. I’m so sorry Donna.” I then told him that my mom was unable to come (she had been the day before but it was a little too much) but that she had wanted me to convey that she forgave him too, and wanted me to give him a hug for her. He immediately opened his arms, and we hugged and hugged and hugged. At this point, my sister Debbie came barreling over (she had gone to the bathroom), and was giving him the evil eye. He took her hands too, and apologized over and over. It was a VERY emotional time, let me tell you. Lots of hugs going on, and tears.
Apparently, we were not supposed to be talking with Frank, but it happened, and I’m so glad for the opportunity. When we were finally back in session and he was sentenced, he had to walk past us. He stopped in front of us, and again apologized profusely, and said he would never forgive himself. I insisted that he did need to forgive himself. He was led away, and we waved goodbye.
YOU NEED TO FORGIVE YOURSELF
How sad. We were not angry. We were not filled with revenge. Frank Kennedy did NOT wake up and decide, “I’m going to go kill Bob Bayley today.” Nope. It was an accident. He had been drinking, and we had learned that his license had already been suspended due to drunk driving. Some of us have habits that aren’t healthy, but those habits won’t necessarily cause the death of someone else. However, in this case, it had. It was so, so incredibly sad.
I wrote him a second letter years later, once he was free from prison. I never did hear back from him, but the first and only time we talked, he said he had received my letter, and was thankful for it, but he just couldn’t find the words to write me back. I had told him that he didn’t need to, as long as he understood that we forgave him completely.
MY DAD DIED SEPTEMBER 18, 1993
My dad was killed September 18, 1993. He has been gone twenty six years now. Wow! When the date rolls around, yes I admit I usually do remember, but I’m not focused on it. For the first year it was really hard, but as the years went on, the pain faded. I can talk about his death without any pain attached, it is simply a story. An event that happened. My dad is in heaven, rejoicing with the angels, and since 2013, my mom has been up there with him too.
FORGIVENESS HEALS YOU
Forgiveness frees you from pain. It removes it. It takes it away. Even if Frank had not apologized to us, we still would have forgiven him anyway. God commands us to forgive, so if we love God, then we are supposed to forgive. You have to choose. The only reason why people stay angry is because they want to get even. They want revenge. And what happens after always complaining about how you were hurt? You get stuck playing the victim, looking for sympathy, and the “oh dear, poor you”.
Guess what. Guess what people/family/friends think about someone who plays the victim all their life? We tend to want to avoid someone like that, and we feel pity. Sometimes it changes to anger, because that person is a walking hostile projectile. And most normal people want to get away from a walking hostile projectile. Believe me, if you act that way, WE don’t want to be around you. Take some advice right now. It’s much easier to forgive and move on, than it is to stay angry. Read that again a few times.
DON’T FINGER POINT AND BLAME – CHOOSE FORGIVENESS INSTEAD
It’s all up to you. You cannot blame everything else that goes wrong in your life on an event that happened five, ten, fifteen, twenty, or even longer years ago. That’s not how it works. Every single thing that you’ve done in your life is your choice. Revenge and anger lead to bad choices. Stop blaming, and point the finger at yourself, and make changes. Forgive yourself, and move on. No matter how much regret or anger you have, it’s not worth the emotional suffering to carry it with you the rest of your life. It will eventually cripple you, and destroy all your relationships.
Forgiveness works, and you can let go. Pain fades over time, it truly does. If it doesn’t, it’s because you are keeping it alive, which means YOU are the problem. See it for what it is – OWN your problem. Make a decision to change.
Here are some steps you can take to forgive someone:
STEPS TO TAKE TO FORGIVE
FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE
Remember, forgiveness is a choice – that gives YOU life. You forgive for YOUR sake. Don’t confuse it as letting a perpetrator off the hook. It’s all about YOU, and cutting the ties between you and them.
I still pray for Frank Kennedy, and I have absolutely no hate in my heart at all. If I ever saw him again one day, I’d give him a big hug! We don’t have to become friends, and we don’t have to have a relationship, but I can be civil and kind to him.
FORGIVE THOSE WHO WOUNDED YOU IN YOUR PAST
Examine your life and see where you need to forgive someone today. Write out a list of all the people who have offended you, and slowly make your way through, choosing to forgive them. I did a list years ago, and realized that I was still holding offences against people in my life that hurt me when I was a child. (My piano teacher – who didn’t like me and always cut my piano lesson short) Yikes. You know you’re still angry when you remember things that really hurt you, and you’re still angry. There is no forgiveness with anger. If you’re angry, you haven’t forgiven. It’s a good way to test it.
Once you’ve eliminated all your past hurts, remember to forgive for new ones that pop up. Don’t let wounds fester. Stop trying to put a band aid on a wound that happened over a year ago. It will never heal until you rip that band aid off.
FORGIVENESS IS THE KEY TO LIFE
Forgiveness is the key to life. If you want to live – learn how to forgive.
GOD COMMANDS US TO FORGIVE
And if you’re a Christian, then you are commanded to forgive. God will not forgive you your sins, if you do not forgive others. Where does that leave you? In a very scary place.
Please realize that forgiveness is essential to our wellbeing. We can never truly be happy, until we forgive, and are forgiven.
DON’T BECOME A PRISONER TO YOUR PAIN
Make it a goal in your life, and get rid of the pain you’ve been hauling around in your backpack.
Burn that list, get rid of it. Stop visiting the past. Let it go.
FOLLOW THE FORGIVENESS PAGE ON FACEBOOK CALLED “THE ANSWER IS FORGIVENESS”
If you are interested in forgiveness, follow and like my forgiveness page on Facebook: