While I am not totally in the loop when it comes to the Aaron Hernandez case, I do know that he was on trial and convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd. As the jury made their decision and announced that Hernandez was guilty on all counts, I am sure that many people expected Lloyd’s family to cheer with joy that his murderer would be behind bars for life.
However, the scene played out differently than expected — starting with the tears that rolled down the face of Lloyd’s mother sitting on the opposite side of the court room. In a sound bite that was shared from the court room, his mother, Ursula Ward, explained, “The day I laid my son Odin to rest, I think my heart stopped beating for a moment… [But] I forgive the hands of the people that had a hand in my son’s murder. I pray and hope that someday everyone out there will forgive them also.”
I have heard this saying several times: Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace. I think that’s what happened for Ursula. She needed peace. She needed to move on. And although the pain may never heal after the tragedy of her son’s death, I do think that she received peace that day.
After hearing this story, I started thinking about my children. What if someone came in and killed my son? Would I be able to forgive them? I am not sure I could. But I know that there are some steps that each person can take to let go and move on.
Step 1: Perhaps in order to forgive, we must first understand the nature of forgiveness
Forgiveness does not mean accepting the other person for what (s)he did. Instead, you are releasing that person from the guilt. You are also choosing to not bring up the offense so as to cast judgment or punishment on them again in the future. Another step is not dwelling on it. I think this may be the most important aspect of forgiveness since it is possibly the most healing aspect for yourself.
Step 2: Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time
It is said that forgiveness leads to happiness. It can give you healthier relationships, greater spiritual well-being, and less anxiety and stress. It can also lower your blood pressure, improve heart health, and raise self-esteem.
Step 3: Actively choose to forgive that person
Mental health professional Dr. Phil says that forgiveness is a choice. It is a waste of time waiting for forgiveness to just happen to us. We have to actively decide that we can forgive that person who’s wronged us.
Step 4: When you are unable to do so on your own (which most of us are), pray.
I don’t mean to make this the final step because I think this is the lowest priority or the last resort. In fact, in my opinion, I would say that prayer is the first step you should take to overcome the anger or bitterness you may have against the offender. However, I think sometimes it is human nature to try and do things on our own first and then let God. If you are as stubborn as me, then we can agree that even though this may not be the ideal route, it is the one we take every time. But I suggest that we step aside and let God help us forgive, especially when it seems absolutely impossible — just as in the instance for Ursula.
If a time comes in my life when the circumstances seem too much for me to overcome, I hope that I will rely on God to help open my heart and find peace.