My Own Path to Forgiveness

Flasbacks of Abuse
In my memoir, Flashbacks of Abuse, I recount how in late March, 2004 my then twelve year old daughter and I were on a ten day vacation to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  On the first day of our vacation, we stumbled into the middle of a gangland kidnapping.  Numerous gunshots were fired by one gang-member attempting to kill or, at least, terrorize a rival gang-member as he fled the scene.  My daughter and I were in the line of fire.  One gunshot missed us by only three feet when it hit the front passenger door of a parked car next to which we were standing while we watched the dangerous street drama unfolding before us.  I pushed my daughter to the ground and covered her up with my own body.  A minute, or so, later, the gunman stood over us with his .45 calibre Thompson sub-machine gun.  Our fate was about to be decided by this gangster.  Fortunately, he ordered us to simply stay down.  We did.  He ran off.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I was struck down, not by a bullet but, by a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  With a great deal of prayer, introspection, therapy, and time, I healed from this.

For some time, I was quite angry and disturbed at the gunman for nearly killing me and my daughter.  I could not possibly forgive him for his recklessness.  Also, for some time, I was therefore
stuck.  I finally knew I had to, somehow, put this behind me.  I realized I had to choose forgiveness if I were to live any sort of healthy life.

With a good deal of self discipline, I chose to forgive the gunman.  Each day, several times a day, I forgave him.  When intrusive thoughts of the shooting entered into my mind, I forgave him.  I forgave and forgave and forgave.  Finally I was free.

The interesting thing about this process was I realized I needed to forgive others in my life, namely, Steve, my parents' best friend who, many decades before, repeatedly molested me when I was a child and teen-ager.  I did so.  Then, I realized I needed to forgive my parents for all the usual complaints an adult may have about his upbringing.  I forgave them.

The hardest part for me was realizing I needed to take one final leap of faith.  I needed to forgive myself for all of the major and minor wrongs that I had committed in the course of my life.

At this point in my life, I feel the gunman and his near-miss bullets were a heaven-sent gift to me, urging me to forgive and to attain freedom.

I have been blessed.