Forgiveness by its nature is for the unworthy. – C. S. Lewis
The Understanding Widower
After a long shift at the fire department, Matt Swatzell fell asleep while driving and crashed into another vehicle, taking the life of pregnant mother June Fitzgerald and injuring her 19-month-old daughter. According to Today, Fitzgerald’s husband, a full-time pastor, asked for the man’s diminished sentence—and began meeting with Swatzell for coffee and conversation. Many years later, the two men remain close. “You forgive as you’ve been forgiven,” Fitzgerald told Today.
The Forgiving Mother
In December 2003, the de Paiva family, three of whom were murdered, whose memorial service was a life-changing experience I will always remember. Only their daughter Melissa, survived, herself badly injured in the attack. It’s one of those things that impacted my life so deeply that when I don’t feel like forgiving others, I go back to that day to remember. The de Paiva family were serving as missionaries in Palau and were making a powerful impact on many people in Palau.
A memorial service was held at four in the afternoon for Ruimar, his wife Margaret, and their son. In attendance were Ruimar’’s father and mother, Elder Itamar and Ruth de Paiva, along with Itamar’s two brothers, Emerson and Hernan. The family of Mrs. Ruimar (Margaret) de Paiva was unable to attend. A memorial service was held at four in the afternoon at PNOC for Ruimar, his wife Margaret, and their son. In attendance were Ruimar’’s father and mother, Elder Itamar and Ruth de Paiva, along with Itamar’s two brothers, Emerson and Hernan. The family of Mrs. Ruimar (Margaret) de Paiva was unable to attend.
I remember how long the service was… I murmured under my breath criticizing how these people really want to hear their own voices. Enough already! And then Ruimar’’s mother did something so amazingly gracious and selfless that all I could do was try to keep myself from wailing.
The mother of the murderer was unable to walk alone and was aided to the stage by her brother and other women. Ruimar’’s mother hugged her so warmly that you’d think they were old friends. Together they stepped to the microphone, and Mrs. de Paiva announced that they were “both mothers grieving for lost sons.” You could hear a pin drop; there was absolute silence.
Mrs. de Paiva continued. She implored the Palauan community to remove any shroud of blame that might cover the killer’s family. She said that the de Paivas did not blame the family for the tragedy. No one else should either, she said. “We raise our chi ldren, we educate them, we teach them right and wrong. That is all we as mothers can do.”
The de Paiva family accomplished more in their death than they ever could have in life. They taught me that it is best to forgive. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the atrocity of the crime but I’m not bitter. God does not forget our sins, He chooses not to remember them. I choose to always remember the healing through forgiveness. [/restrict]