"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..The F Word…..

Recently I was moved to tears by some extraordinary stories of forgiveness. Forgiveness that defies logic and that can only be given when a heart is truly moved with compassion and love. A lot of effort and emotion goes into true forgiveness. I’ve been working on some of that from my past of late – none of it is easy – all quite painful but yet necessary for a life of freedom and peace, which is the common theme in each of the stories below. Today’s M5T shares these incredible stories of how the choice to forgive can be achieved even after the most painful or horrific experiences.

1. The space between revenge and forgiveness

In April 2014, 18-year-old Abdollah Hosseinzadeh was stabbed to death in northern Iran. The Iranian legal system allows for a victim’s family members to personally initiate the execution of a relative’s murderer. Instead Abdollah’s mother, Samereh Alinejad, spared the murderers life. She slapped the face of the man convicted of killing her son just moments before he was to be hanged. She then pardoned him, removing the noose from his neck. In an emotional scene the families of Abdollah and his murderer embraced, and then together they visited Abdollah’s grave. Samereh then said; “I am a believer. I had a dream in which my son told me that he was at peace and in a good place. After that all my relatives – even my mother – put pressure on me to pardon the killer.” The “slap was the space between revenge and forgiveness… Now that I’ve forgiven him, I feel relieved.”

2. Just let go

In February 2007 the car of Chris Williams was violently hit by a 17-year-old drunk driver. Chris checked the car, realizing that his 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter had died on impact. Unable to move, he could only watch as his pregnant wife slowly died next to him. In interviews after the crash, Williams said that before he had even been rescued from his car he had this thought: "Whoever has done this to us, I forgive them. I don't care what the circumstances were; I forgive them." He was true to his words. He publicly forgave the young man that took his family from him and has since developed a close relationship with the man and his family. His story was made into a motion picture called “Just Let Go"; Williams continues to share his amazing story of healing and forgiveness around the country in his mission to inspire others to grant mercy, grace and forgiveness even during the most difficult of experiences.

3. Close to home

Just a few weeks ago, a Hilton Head Island mother gave a most profound gift of forgiveness. Her 11-year-old daughter was on a poorly lit crosswalk at night on US 278 when she was struck and killed by a car. It was an accident; no alcohol, speeding or foul play. An accident. The mother, Daisy Bobinchuck, who owns the Catch 22 Seafood and Steak Restaurant, posted this to her Facebook page; "I need him to be ok. I can only imagine the pain and struggle for this person. I am so sad for you." She went on to say that she wants to talk to the driver to tell him that she loves him and doesn't want him to be sad. "I don't know you, but I love you and hurt for you and I need you to be ok. My arms are open and my heart has nothing but love. This is just a horrific tragedy for us all but here we are…. in this together." All I can say is wow. Just wow.

4. Amish simplicity

On October 2, 2006 Charles Roberts walked into an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County. Roberts was heavily armed and shot 10 young girls, killing 5 and then himself. In his suicide note to his wife, Roberts’ laid blame on the birth-death of their first child who was born prematurely in 1997. Despite such a horrific act by a clearly deranged man, the Amish community in the county reacted as many wouldn’t. The Amish community attended the murderer’s funeral and comforted Roberts’ widow. The mother and father who had lost 2 children that fateful day were the first to greet Roberts’ family at the funeral. The mother said; “Is there anything in this life that we should not forgive? I don’t want them – after killing my family – to give me this luggage, in my heart, in my belly, to hold this anger.” And in a further show of love and forgiveness that defies the pain of loss and hurt, the Amish community gave financial support to Robert’s widow.

5. The heart of Africa

During the Rwandan genocide in the mid-nineties, the entire family of Immaculle Ilibagiza was murdered in a bloodbath. She survived the massacre by hiding in small bathroom with seven other women. Despite the horror of the scene and the sounds she and the other women had to endure, Immaculee chose to forgive the people behind the death of her family because she felt that bitterness and hatred would only destroy her. Out of the pain she experienced, Immaculle wrote a best-selling book about that day entitled “Left to Tell” and also founded the Left to Tell Charitable Fund with the mission to help children who have been orphaned due to genocide.

Here’s to a week of putting this F word to good use, finding peace in your life and granting mercy to others, even those that are undeserving of forgiveness.

© 2018 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved. 

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business.  He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.  

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com  and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook.  Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine.  His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com . Your feedback is always welcome.  Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com