Dear Jack

Dear Jack,

We’ve never met but our lives collided on March 29th, when you made the choice to drive under the influence of your prescription drugs and struck the bus my father was driving head on. That day has likely haunted your dreams; I know it has haunted mine.

The police report indicates that my father saw you and pulled as close to the guardrail as possible while slowing down. Knowing my father, he was also laying on the horn. Did you hear it?

My mother weathered the storm; continuing to serve and love and lead, even as she suffered the loss of her husband and 12 other friends. But she neglected herself in the process, eating poorly and losing sleep. Just three days after dad’s funeral my mom died from a blood clot in her lung and my world was shaken yet again.

Now I am an orphan. But you already knew that. How could you forget?

Monday you will stand before a Grand Jury but society has already proclaimed you guilty. Court is now mostly a formality as those who have lost so much seek justice. And justice is good; it creates a stable and secure society. We can’t have security if everyone makes their own rules.

But justice is external; forgiveness is about the heart. You’ve got a difficult life ahead of you and I want desperately for you to know that you are forgiven. I know I can blame you for the loss of my parents and I know that society wants me to hate you and relish your suffering.

But my heart is broken for you. My dad invested his entire life in fathering, loving, and mentoring boys. How would your life be different if you’d known him in your youth?

I’ve forgiven you from the beginning, since the day I first learned your name. I am sad and grieve the loss of my parents but you don’t owe me anything.

How can I forgive you?

Because I’ve been forgiven myself.

God blessed me with a strong, healthy body. But I didn’t appreciate it. I spent 20 years abusing my body with an addiction. When I wasn’t doing that, I was eating everything in sight in a quest to fill the void in my heart.

And every day I would repent.

And every day God forgave me.

God sent his only Son to earth to be born of a virgin, live a sinless life, and die a criminal’s death. He did this so that Jesus could absorb the wrath that I deserved; the wrath we all deserve. Everyone sins. Everyone fails God’s standard of perfection. And that failure always hurts people around us.

“The wages of sin is death,” isn’t just a verse in the bible; it’s a fact. When we mess up, it brings death into the world. For you, the death your sin caused is easily seen. For some, it’s harder to identify but it’s still there.

My lifestyle was hurting myself and those around me. And the guilt of my failures was a prison around me that kept me locked up for years. My hope and prayer for you is that you’ll discover the freedom I’ve found in forgiveness.

When I accepted God’s forgiveness and learned to forgive myself, my heart was set free.

It’s in that freedom that I can love and forgive you even though you’ve taken so much from me.

I forgive you.



19 thoughts on “Dear Jack

  1. Jill

    I too lost someone on March 29. The words you have written echo my feelings. I just couldn’t express them as eloquently you have. Thank you for doing that. The pain as all of us have to endure, leads me to remember the pain that Christ went through to take my punishment for all my sins. And I am confident that in this tragedy God will, and already has, make something good come from it. My heart breaks too for Jack and his family. And I also forgive him as Christ has forgiven me. My prayers are that he will come to know the Lord and make the best out of a very bad situation. God bless you and your family, Jenn.


  2. Kristy

    Jenn that was beautiful and well said. It seems you covered everything that so many of the families of the victims ofcthay horrible crash would want to say. Forgiving him as Christ has forgiven us. Amen! Easier said than done. I know. I’m proud of you for doing that.


  3. Gene Fonda

    Jenn, as you know I knew your parents and was hurt by their untimely death. Then in may, if you don’t know, my son Paul was killed in a pedestrian car accident where the driver was arrested for being under the influence of drugs. Paul protected his son and I have been asking that “why” question. Thank you for reminding me of God’s love for all of us and His plan for all of us! With His grace, maybe now I can start the forgiving process myself. Gene Fonda


  4. Don Moore

    Jenn, God bless you for your warm and caring message. I admire you for your willingness to forgive. I guess I am not that strong because one of the lives taken that day by this irresponsible fool and his actions was Christie Moore, my Aunt whom I knew all my life and loved with all my heart. I am glad for you an those of you who can forgive. For me, I am still angry and will never be able to forgive and so I will be the standard bearer for those who only have hate in their heart for such an irresponsible tragedy. Maybe one day things will change, but as of today and for the foreseeable future, I have nothing but darkness in my heart and a hope that this imbecile spends the rest of his life behind bars for taking so much from so many.

    Don Moore


  5. HE

    What a beautiful letter and act of forgiveness. It was a terrible tragedy & so many hurt. Jack included.
    It is a wonderful letter reminding us all, that we are all sinners & He chose to forgive each of us.
    Praying for you, Jack and all the ones affected.
    In Christ’s love,


  6. Carrol


    I, too, lost a loved one March 29th. My sister was on the bus with your dad. Your words express so much of how I feel. The Lord has called me into a prison ministry so I am very aware of what Jack is facing. My prayers join yours in praying Jack and his family will find forgiveness and comfort in a Loving Savior as you and I have. Thank you for sharing your heart.


  7. Kay

    Such a healing letter that all of us can learn from. I have had a heavy heart on,y from words that were written about someone I loved and is no longer on earth. If you can forgive for all the loss you have been through than I and everyone can forgive any wrong that was done to us. Thank you for this letter, God has already blessed you with a forgiving heart. I pray for you and everyone who lost a loved one that day.


  8. Pat Haffey

    So very powerfully expressed. We must forgive not only because failing to do so hurts only the one not forgiving, but because Our Lord Jesus has so instructed us and we are forgiven.


  9. Barbara

    My mom died 3 1/2 months ago from cancer and I still am mad, lost, missing my mom – I try very hard to know and believe that my mom is in a better place – that God saved her from more pain and took her on her birthday – away from the pain – and this beautiful letter helps lighten my pain – thank you young lady for your good heart and bravery. I am so sorry for,the loss of your parents.


  10. Amy Hubbard

    Beautifully written and your faith is inspiring! Thank you for the example you are setting. I’m sorry for the loss of your parents. I lost my 13 year old son last July and I know he is in Heaven now too. Maybe he has met your parents. May God bless & keep you until we get to see our loved ones again.


  11. Jo Anna

    Hi Jenn,
    Y’all have been in mine & my families prayers. You probably don’t know me but my grandma is Myrtle Ivey. She taught your Dad at the Baptist Academy. She adored him & your mom & y’all. Her heart was broken from the news. My Grandma is 95 & still has a pretty good mind. Last year, her & I sat down to write down her wishes for her Memorial service for when the time came & Your Dad was listed as a speaker. Yesterday I was going through her picture boxes & there are lots of pictures of your family that your parents would send her. I know that she would love to talk to you or see you.


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  13. Deep.

    I don’t even know what to say. I know, initially, I was wanting swift and harsh consequences. Even now, a part of me wants that. But reading this…. You have humbled me. And I am very Type 1 Alpha, but…. wow.

    You have demonstrated with your words, that you are a strong woman. I emphatically applaud your faith – something that I am embarrassed to say I have taken for granted.

    Your letter, I think, has been sobering to many readers. I know it was for me.

    My heartfelt condolences to you, your family, and all families effected by this tragedy.


  14. beavoicefororphans

    Proud of you sister in Christ! praying for you and glad to hear you have overcome and are more than a conqueror in HIM. Forgiveness is what we need and what we need to do…
    Psalm 34:18
    The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


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