Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the screening for Van Jones new show on CNN entitled Redemption. The show seeks to aide both the victim and perpetrator of a crime in restorative justice through a meeting with one another. With counseling sessions leading up to the face to face encounter and a trained guide assisting throughout, the show does a great job at humanizing both sides.
In the episode I watched, a well-known community activist named Donald lost his teenaged daughter to gun violence over twenty years ago. Chris, the young man who committed the crime at 16-years of age, was a classmate of the victim and is now 40- years old. Both men have spent years in prison. One in a jail cell, the other locked in a cell of grief and unanswered question.
I couldn’t help but feel for both men. One has lost his daughter in the prime of her youth, and the other life snatched during his youthful exuberance. Both men tell stories of loss, and the lonely road they have had to walk to find redemption.
Forgiveness is not instinctually human. When people do evil, wrong, or unjust things to us, we immediately guard ourselves against other possible offenses. We shut down and harden ourselves to protect against any future attacks or wrongdoing.
As I watched in the theater, I thought of all the times in my life that I chose not to forgive the perpetrators in my life. I shut them out, I talked negatively about them, and I built up a bluff of disdain. The toxic waste I directed to them eventually seeped into other relationships and situations that were not even connected.
Then I thought about the times in my life in which I was the offender in need of forgiveness. The anguish and guilt ate away at my heart. It made me fearful of loving because I may be a detriment to someone else.
The road of redemption is a two-way street. Both sides require a long look in the mirror and full disclosure of truth. There is hope after a heartbreak, and a guilty verdict doesn’t end the story. By the end of the series, Donald spoke on behalf of Chris at his second parole hearing. Chris was granted parole in October 2018. Forgiveness sets us free.
Unforgiveness has been holding you captive far too long. God has been patiently holding your new business, your new relationship, and your next level in his hands until yours are free to keep it. Break free and seize your destiny. All has been forgiven.