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.