Who deserves your forgiveness? Do you forgive people easily or hold onto whatever hurt they caused you? How long do you hold onto it? Why?
As you read this post, remember that you and I are not all that different. I’m not sharing this story so you think I have huge self control or anything like that. I have just come to realize a few things about life and myself that perhaps other people have just not come to realize yet. Life is a learning process and is gradual. We all learn things in our own way and in our own time.
The other day I was reading my Sister-In-Law’s blog post and it really resonated with me. I wanted to share my response to her post with you (I have edited it so it becomes complete as a stand alone post however.)
If would encourage you to check out her blog as well. Here is the link: Mastering Forgiveness | Peggy Bell Nolan.
On the 5th of November, 2012, I noticed that it was getting late and my 17 year old son, Austin, was still out with friends. I was getting concerned about the time since he had school and work the next day. I tried his phone and it went to voice mail. Perhaps he was ignoring me. I left a message that it was late and I would like him to head home, a message he would not actually hear until more than a week later.
About :30 minutes after I left the voice mail there was a knock at the door. I answered and it was a police officer. “Ma’am, is your son Austin Bell?” My heart sank. I don’t remember answering him. “He was in an accident and the charge nurse needs you to call the hospital so they can get permission to transport him.” He couldn’t give me any other details except that I needed to call the hospital. I shut the door on the policeman and yelled for my husband as I collapsed onto the stairs. I remember my oldest son staying out with the cop, us quickly grabbing a few things and the three of us heading out the door as we called the hospital.
I was extremely grateful to learn that he would eventually be OK but he needed to be transported to a hospital in Boston where they specialize in youth medicine. He had a compound fracture of both bones in his left leg, below the knee and it needed to be reset. The hospital he was in didn’t specialize in that. It took us more than an hour to get to the hospital, then another :15 to find him. When we walked in, the first thing he said was, “Mom, please don’t cry. That won’t be good for either of us.” His face was twice it’s normal size, swollen from all the glass that was embedded in his face and all the open lacerations from it and he was wearing a neck collar, I will probably never be able to lose that image in my head.
I stayed at the hospital until he was released many days later, except for a 3 hour break to drive home and vote before returning to be by his side.
I learned Austin had been a back seat passenger in a car driven by a junior operator who illegally had people in her vehicle, unbeknownst to the passengers that it was illegal for her to drive with them in the car, and she drove into a tree. She could have killed all 4 of them, He had his seat belt on but just before the accident the car hit a bump in the road and the driver was driving too fast. When they hit the bump, Austin grabbed the back of the seat in front of him, preventing the seat belt from locking. The car swerved into another lane and was headed toward an oncoming car. She jerked the car back into her lane, causing Austin to move from the area of the back seat where he was toward the middle of the backseat. As almost with the same motion, the car was stopped dead when it hit a tree head on and during the impact he smashed his leg into the metal bar of the drivers seat and caught all the glass from the windshield that was deflected from the two front airbags, directly into his face.
I had never met the driver before and when he told me about the accident, I didn’t even know who she was. I knew most of Austin’s friends, at least by name. The moment she called him on the hospital phone to see how his surgery went, (He had a rod inserted into his leg to stabilize the bones to help them grow back together,) I told her that I was not angry with her. I knew I couldn’t be. If I was, that anger would consume me and where I needed to be emotionally was there for my son. It was the only way we could heal quickly through that.
Austin didn’t need me to be angry, neither did she. She already blamed herself and we later found out that a lot of the students in her school turned against her because of the accident. She didn’t need me to add to that. There wasn’t alcohol or drugs involved, just poor judgement.
I remember the first time I met her. She had come to our house after he was out of the hospital. It was hard for me. I realized the forgiveness had not been 100% but I didn’t let on. I reminded myself that it would not be good for any of us. She was still healing too. She shattered every bone in her face and had to have reconstructive surgery. She hugged me and cried when she left. I later received an incredible text from her thanking me for letting her into my home and welcoming her and she stressed how healing it had been for her.
Why do I share such a graphic story? I’m hoping this may help you in some way. I feel it is very important to forgive. It’s not about the other person, it’s not about payback for something they did. YOU don’t need to hold a grudge. It is truly damaging to your own health much more than theirs. The reason? YOU need to live with these feelings of hatred or the feeling you need to get them back for whatever they did, a need for revenge.
It was easier to forgive this when it was done immediately. I didn’t let the negativity consume me before hand. It was easier to move past this. Austin is healed now and can actually run again. Tonight is his first night trying MMA and Kickboxing, 11 months after the accident/surgery. Time healed the bones in his leg, the glass is gone, leaving him with only a few scars on his face and leg. There are a few things he can’t do, but not many. His recovery took about 8 months and he missed a great deal of his senior year. He too, forgave, or perhaps, he never even blamed in the first place. He was an inspiration through this. This accident made him a stronger person and gave him the chance to prove who he was and just how strong his character is. We would never want to repeat it but are grateful for what came out of it. His recovery would not have been as quick and the emotional healing would have taken much longer if he had chosen not to forgive. He could have chosen a “pity me” attitude but he didn’t. He looked at this as what it was “an accident,” something he had no control over and could not change once it had happened.
I remember him saying, “there’s nothing I can do about it, might as well make the best of it.”
Forgiveness is for you. It helps you heal and move on to a happier, healthier life. You deserve that. Holding on to the negativity can send you into depression and make you hold onto the initial feelings of emotional hurt and pain you felt from the situation. You will re-live it over and over again. Your ultimate goal should be to move on from whatever it is.
Are you ready to heal? Are you ready to forgive? If you don’t know where to start and talking to the person is not an option, write them a letter, releasing them from what happened, releasing your feelings of it and letting them know that you will be moving on, no longer carrying the pain of the situation with you. Whether you send it or not is up to you.
Thanks for your thought provoking post that inspired this one Peggy!
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6 thoughts on “The Power of Forgiveness”
Wow! What a story! As a mom of a new teenager, it does scare me. But, I understand and know your message. You are very wise.
The trick is to not panic. Never think something will happen or could happen until it does. It took a while to get used to both my teens getting out there, even after the accident but I don’t lose sleep anymore wondering what if. Austin missed a lot because of his leg and is not driving on his own yet, even though he is 18. He had his permit at the time of the accident but didn’t get enough practice time before hand and is just starting to practice again. I’m sure I will worry when he gets off on his own too. Be strong. Thank you for stopping by!
Wow ! Firstly I’m glad to know that your son is doing better. Secondly, it’s really big of you to forgive the girl who caused the car crash.
Whilst I agree with you on pretty much everything you have said – there’s a part of me that says ‘Forgive, Forget, or F*ck It’ (actual title of a post I wrote some time ago – http://dazedreflection.blogspot.in/2011/04/forgive-forget-or-just-fck-it.html). I’m aware that there are things beyond my control and as your son said – we have to deal with it as best as we can. There are other instances where I may forgive i.e. let go of something someone has done that may hurt etc but doesn’t mean I’ll forget it .. and I guess this is something I need to work on as well (touch wood to date I haven’t found myself dwelling on those incidents)
Oh and I’m a big fan of expressing myself by way of email / letters. There are some that I have written and never sent (guess just needed to get it out of my system) and others where I have sent those ‘letters’ out and never looked back.
Thank you for such a great response DazeDiva. I love that you use the e-mail method as well. I think it’s just so important for us to forgive and move on. It helps put us in a better place.
Austin’s angels were so on the job that night and for the many months during his recovery. Now look at him! MMA…Kickboxing! He’s going to take the world on and win!
Kids and cars are one of the biggest worries parents have. I remember Jessica’s accident (she was hit by someone trying to get through an intersection faster than her, he had the blinking red light, she had the right of way) – totaled her car. Fortunately, the air bag saved Jess from serious injury.
I am so glad you and Austin were both able to be compassionate to the driver of the car. I hope everyone who was in that car is healed from the trauma of that night.
Peggy, I don’t think I ever knew about Jess’ accident. I’m so grateful the airbag deployed for her. Austin has some PTSD remaining when someone accelerate or stops quickly. He has flashbacks in those situations. He has been in 4 accidents. The most recent one sent him to the hospital a day after he had surgery for a screw removed from his knee from the previous accident. In that one he, Dan and Nic were passengers in a car that was rear-ended when they stopped to let another car go before entering the rotary. People just don’t pay attention like they used to.
He will take the world by storm. I can’t wait until that happens!!
Love you, Missy