One of the questions that I’m asked the most about being kidnapped is if I have forgiven the kidnapper. If I decided NOT to forgive him, I don’t think anyone would blame me. After all, he took me, held me against my will, tortured and attempted to kill me. Finally, he left me in the hills to die. For someone to take an innocent person against their will and hurt them –it’s just wrong!
When I returned home, this was a difficult time for my family. Everyone was happy that I was alive, but there were many other emotions that my family was faced with. Anger, resentment, sadness, fear… everyone was on edge. The kidnapper said he’d come back and kill me if I talked and now the story was all over the news. Would he come back and kill me? Would the police catch him? Would he be punished for his acts or would he continue hurting other innocent children? How could God allow this to happen?
It’s in these tragic moments, when emotions are raw – these are the times that the decisions we make on how to respond become forks in the road of our lives. Our responses to these tragic events determine the level of peace and happiness we will experience for the rest of our lives. (Unless another decision is later made)
It’s not easy! People who hurt innocent children don’t deserve to be forgiven! I’m sure we all agree to that! The problem with staying in that space and hanging on to that anger and resentment is that those emotions will destroy us. They will steal our peace and happiness, along with the peace and happiness of our loved ones. Anger doesn’t destroy who we’re mad it. Anger only destroys the one who is angry.
When I was being held by the kidnapper, I was a victim. I had no power and no control. That was a terrible feeling! If I remain angry and resentful, I remain a victim. If my loved ones remain angry and resentful, then they too become victims – casualties of this tragic event.
We can get past our tragedy. The terrible event can become a simple bump in the road of our life. Our futures are in our own hands and not in the hands of a person or situation that may have harmed us in the past. It takes work, but with perseverance our future is our own. We are free to create the future we want!
Previously, I wrote about how our thoughts determine the degree of suffering we will endure. Our thoughts will also determine the degree of peace and happiness we will experience.
I trust that God will take care of all the details in the end so I don’t need to worry about what will happen to the kidnapper. I don’t need to think about him. God will take care of it.
Forgiveness is not something that you do one time and then you’re done. It’s more of a constant attitude. It begins as a commitment to yourself. Once you choose to forgive, you may have to remind yourself to be loving, to not judge, to let it go over and over. The more you practice forgiveness, the easier it becomes.
When I had the opportunity to have a small sampling of heaven in a near heaven experience, even though my body was dying and in a violent situation, suddenly the terror disappeared and I was part of a completely peaceful and loving experience. There was no fear, no pain, no anger, no resentment – it was pure heaven! I want to live my life like that! Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant in the Lord’s Prayer when He prayed that we would live on earth as it is in heaven.
I would like to challenge you with today with a thought. Instead of focusing on the injustice and bad aspects of your tragedy or struggle in life, begin looking at the difficult situation as a gift – as a blessing. I know that sounds strange, right? How could I possible see my tragedy as a gift? For me, I have had the opportunity to see people’s lives change as I share my story. That’s a gift. When I was kidnapped, I should have died several times and the only explanation is that I experienced miracles. That’s a gift. If I had died, I would have remained in an amazing place! That would have been a gift. Don’t be a victim of the tragedy by hanging onto that anger and resentment. Use that energy to ignite a passion to make a difference in the world.
Let’s live our lives on earth as it is in heaven!
I hope you’ll check out my Instagram page this week. I added some great quotes from Nelson Mandela about forgiveness. (Find us on Instagram at Through the fire book)