Today makes 9 years that my brother has been gone. On January 25, 2008 the murderer plead guilty and my mother was able to address him. Some of what is written below was actually said to him (the last 2 paragraphs).
Before 9/11/02, I thought I knew what forgiveness was. Sure, I forgave my sister from hitting me or calling me names. I forgave my brother for breaking promises. Basically I forgave anyone who asked for forgiveness because it was really no big deal. The problem was small and the wrong done towards me was the kind you forget about the next day. I had no clue what true forgivness was.
Then wrong was done towards me and my family, the kind you never forget about - my brother was murdered. How can you forgive someone who has hurt someone you love and has taken that person away from you? How can you forgive someone who is selfish, who only thinks of himself when he is destroying the life of your loved one? How can you forgive someone who hurt an entire family? How can you forgive someone who left two little boys fatherless? How can you forgive and forget?
Three things I've learned:
1. In order to be forgiven of your own sins you must first forgive others. How can God forgive me of my wrong doings if I can't forgive those who have done wrong to me?
2. You CAN forgive with the help of God.
3. You don't have to forget. God doesn't ask us to forget the wrong that was done. He just asks that we forgive.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about that night. It's something that cannot be forgotten. It's something that will always exist. But true forgiveness enables me to think about that night without harboring feelings of bitterness and hatred towards the murderer. Bitterness destroys and God has called me to something greater, something higher. He has called me to forgive.
The road to forgiveness is scary and hard, but it's a road worth taking.