We’ve all met someone who is extremely gracious, loving, and giving, right? Who is always there, always goes above and beyond, and never seems to have a complaint about anything or anyone? Some would say they were just born that way. But more often than not, there’s a story behind that warm smile, a story of hardships and brokenness that most never have to face.
When you’ve been given a second chance at life, it’s hard not to be grateful.
In 2019, an unarmed young man was shot and killed in his own apartment by a police officer who had entered, thinking it was her own and thought him an intruder. She lived one floor below. The court case became widely known at first for key social issues that played into it, a white female police officer killing a young black man. But that was all forgotten the moment the young man’s brother did something incredible in the court room.
He took the stand and forgave the police officer. And not only did he forgive her, but he also embraced her and encouraged her to seek the love and forgiveness of Christ. As they embraced, she broke down in sobs. The whole room was in awe of this extreme show of compassion. And even though the woman still had to go to jail, the judge was so moved by this young man’s actions that she gave the police officer her own Bible and guided her to accept Christ into her life, charging her to read the Word as her next “job” while she served her time.
While we don’t know the rest of the story after that day, imagine how that police officer’s life changed in that moment? Instead of being faced with hostility, anger, and disgust by the man’s brother, she was met with love, acceptance and forgiveness, something she probably neither expected nor felt like she deserved.
Do you think she was grateful? Do you think that has changed her actions and attitude as she serves out her time? Do you think it impacts those around her?
We will likely never hear that side of the story. But judging by her simple reaction as she was embraced by the victim’s brother, one thing seems abundantly clear.
Thankfulness flows from Forgiveness.
When forgiveness enters the room, gratitude freely flows to you and to others around you. So, if you are struggling to be thankful this holiday season, think about who or what might need forgiving in your life. It could be a family member. It could be a bad situation. Or hardest of all, it could be you need to forgive yourself.
Try this exercise over the holidays this year:
- Each day, write down 1 person/thing you are struggling to forgive.
- Then, write down 1 way you can be thankful for that person/thing having been in your life.
- Forgive yourself for holding on to the hurt and the emotions that came from that experience.
- Forgive them for causing the hurt and emotions.
- Give them permission to forgive you for holding onto that hurt and emotions.
- And finally, write down 5 more things you can be grateful for.
Do this for at least 7 days and see how it changes your attitude and outlook on life. You may just find yourself smiling a little more and showing a little more kindness to those around you.
And if you need some assistance in forgiveness, our coaches are here to help. With either our “rapid change” one-on-one sessions or our group coaching program, we’ll help you learn how to make forgiveness a daily habit so you can live in gratitude, joy, and peace this holiday season and beyond.
So, what’s one thing you are grateful for today? Share with us in the comments!