Embracing Forgiveness

A Real-Life Example

Some of you know that back in 2007 a friend and I were robbed at gunpoint in the Starbucks on Oklahoma and KK, just two blocks from my house. It was quite an experience and with the help of Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist I wrote an Open Letter to the man who had robbed us.

End of story…or so I thought. Last Monday morning, still having my internal clock all messed up from our European vacation, I came in the office at 6am and turned on my computer The very first email in my inbox read like this:

I’m almost positive that I was robbed by the same person shortly after you were robbed. A friend and I were robbed at gunpoint and my friend was hit in the head with the pistol. All these years later I still don’t feel safe when I walk in this neighborhood. I have harbored a lot of anger and resentment towards what happened to me. I even went back to the place where I was robbed occasionally seeking revenge, hoping they would attempt to rob someone else in that same location again and that I would be there to catch them.

Today after I read the article from the Journal Sentinel about your ordeal, I realized I was wrong. For you to offer to not only forgive but to stand with the person that wronged you through their legal trials and tribulations helped me to forgive the people that robbed me, at least internally, whether it’s the same people or not. I no longer wish harm on them because I now realize that there was something more driving them to wrong me. I see now, through the open letter that you wrote, that there is a better way to deal with my emotions and anger towards these people and that holding in resentment is not the answer.

Today your empathy and forgiveness towards the people that wronged you in 2007 has helped me to overcome my anger towards the people that wronged me and I just wanted to say thank you. Whether there was justice in your situation or not, I don’t know the outcome just the events from the link I sent, I wanted you to know that your actions helped me years later.

I never found out who robbed me and my friend. The police investigated but they never solved the case. Either way, I have decided to let it go because I can’t change the past and I see now that instead of burdening myself with anger, I should show compassion towards the situation of the people which drove them to harm me in order to help themselves.

And here’s the crazy part…the young man who wrote this lives directly across the street from me! Tuesday afternoon we met and talked over what had happened to us. I told him how grateful I was for him to reach out to me but especially for the fact that I was, without even knowing it, able to help him let go of a painful memory and begin to offer forgiveness.

God is good!

Pastor Andy