What if, even in the face of someone else causing you unspeakable harm and tragedy, you were able to forgive them immediately? If you kept the resentment from burrowing deep within you, haunting and anguishing you?
This is the story of Rais Bhuiyan. In the wake of 9/11, Bhuyian was the victim of a hate crime. A man named Mark Stroman was randomly targeting people he thought were of Muslim or Middle Eastern descent. Stroman killed two men in addition to wounding Bhuiyan. He was executed in July 2011.
I saw this article in my Facebook newsfeed today – I actually think NPR posted it erroneously, since it was a year and a half outdated – and I put aside the post I had already written. What makes this story remarkable is that Bhuiyan says he never hated Stroman in return. He actually worked to save him from death row. He used his faith to find the power to forgive.
I am deeply moved by the ability for someone to be so emotionally free and to move on with grace. Instead of seeking retaliation, he sought to give his attacker salvation.
It gives me much pause to consider the resentments to which I am clinging, the wrongs I’ve been unable to forgive. In reality, they’re only causing harm to me, not their targets. As the saying goes, resentment is like drinking poison in hopes that someone else will die. It only pollutes my own spirit but does nothing to change the past or heal the wounds.
How have you found forgiveness – for yourself and others?