Last week, there was a fascinating story on CNN about forgiveness.
I’ll recap for you. On June 13, 1992, in the East River Projects in Manhattan, three drug dealers went looking for 17 year-old Wilfredo Colón, a rival crack dealer.
When they found their target, they shot him 13 times. Eight months later, the police arrested Michael Rowe and two other dealers. Rowe plead guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The murder devastated Colon’s little brother, Anthony, who was 15 at the time. His anger over the killing combined with his bitterness toward his parents for not having taken better care of their children, left him bitter toward the murderers, God, and himself.
It wasn’t until two years later when a friend brought him to church that he began to change his life and learn about the power of forgiveness. He later married, had two children, and became a restaurant owner.
Meanwhile, in prison, Rowe also transformed his life, first earning a high-school diploma, a college degree, and a Master’s degree. He got married and fathered three children, while in prison.
Both are incredible stories on their own, but it gets deeper. One day, in September 2006, while visiting a friend at a New York prison, Colon looked across the room and saw Michael Rowe. Startled and fearful, Rowe tried to duck and avoid Colon’s gaze.
But Colon walked straight up to him and said these remarkable words: “Brother, I’ve been praying for you. I forgave you. I’ve been praying I would see you again.”
Wow, could you imagine? Well, Rowe couldn’t. It took him minutes before he could come to grips with what was happening and shake the outstretched hand of the brother of the man he’d murdered.
And the rest is even more remarkable. The two have become close as brothers. Colon was actually there to put on Rowe’s robe when he received his Masters degree in prison, and Colon was there last week when Rowe was released after two decades.
The two will even work together at Exodus Transitional Community Center in Harlem.
What a story, Anthony Colon is an incredible human being. You see, he recognizes that his forgiveness was as much about himself as the man who wronged him.
In light of this story, think about some of the silly grudges we currently hold against our loved ones.
Forgive somebody today. Also, let us know who you are forgiving. You don’t have to give names, but just let us know how long you’ve held the grudge and why.
I’ll leave you with these words from the late theologian Lewis B. Smedes:
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Here are some of the things TJMS listeners are choosing to forgive. (See below)
I forgive my ex-husband for cheating on me with our good friend, fathering a child with her, marrying her and forgetting he has teenage children with me. I also forgive my gay cousin who tried to introduce my 17-year-old son to his lifestyle and having me arrested for confronting him about it.
I forgive a man who raped me when I was only 9-years-old. That was over 24 years ago. He is now out of prison.
I forgive my oldest child’s dad for leaving me for another man some years ago. Also, I am thanking him because my husband now is the true MAN of my dreams.
Tom, I forgive my sister for showing out at my wedding. I celebrate my 1 year anniversary next month and I haven’t spoken to her since.
I forgive the two men that abducted and raped me on my way to school when I was 17.
I forgive Sister Olivia for molesting me when I was boy. I spent my entire life learning how to trust women. Especially the leaders in church.
I forgive my wife for being the evil, hateful, selfish person that she is.
i forgive my husband of 27 years for having a 11-year-old daughter by another woman. God is good !
I have to forgive my cousins, one has passed, the other is still living. They are brothers that used to molest me as a child and I truly want to b free!!! Thank you Father God for blessing us with a heart to help us learn the importance of forgiveness
I forgive my wife for sleeping with my son thirteen years ago.
I forgive my stepmother for the worst childhood a kid could possible face.
I forgive my daughter’s fathers wife for hitting our daughter in court when we were there for child support.
I forgive my dad for molesting me when I was 6/7 years old. I’m forgiving him because still to this day I’m hurting, so I’m letting it go and giving it to God.
I have forgiven my ex-wife for spending over twenty thousand dollars on my credit cards!!! I pray that she gets her life together! I have moved on and very much in love with my future wife! You always reap what u sow!!! Forgiveness goes a long way!!
Okay, i will forgive my sister for not attending my son’s funeral and not saying she was sorry
I forgive my ex-husband for whooping my ass on a daily basis. Punk!
I forgive my grandfather for sexual abuse towards me when I was younger.
I forgive my brother for raping when I was only 11-years-old.
I forgive my father for still not knowing how to be a dad, after 37 yearrs.
I forgave my cousin for betraying our trust when he murdered a drug dealer with my 17-year-old son with him at 9-years-old. He is serving life with no parole, it’s sad though.
I forgive my father for not being there like a father should and for keeping me a secret from his side of the family for 21 years. After 21 years, I finally met my brother and family.
I forgive my ex-husband for abandoning our family when we were married and ignoring his girls as they were growing up.
My sister slept with my other sister’s man and it destroyed the family. It has been 20 years and I still can’t forgive her. it is not what she did that makes it so hard but her arrogant ass attitude and more so the fact that she says she’s a minister and has never apologized. She’s a true hypocrite.
I forgive my late aunt for killing my dog who was in his pen minding his own business and telling a lie on me that my mean grandma would never believe was true.
I forgive my grandmother for being mad because I’m white. I can’t help it that my mother and father have jungle fever!!
It took me 19 years to realize that I needed to forgive my son’s father for committing suicide in order to release myself and my blessings.
I forgive my husband who had been cheating on me for 30 years. Now he says he has found God and he is so sorry .
I forgive my mom for the child abuse she put on me and my siblings .Please get the help you need to forgive yourself.
I forgive that backstabbing, double-faced co-worker who smiles in my face and then reports everything we do to management.
Though I was not born at the time, I forgive the man who used to beat my mother to the point of almost killing her. It took a very long time. So much hate in my heart, but it was not doing me any good. Besides, karma came around and he has paid for it. Forgiveness is truly a difficult thing to do.
I forgive my dad who doesn’t accept my sexuality and family because of his belief in politics, and God!
I forgive my ex-husband for not telling me he was HIV POSITIVE.