Article first published for The Burkean, in response to the incredible power of Brandt Jean hugging Amber Guyger in court, the woman who had killed his brother.
What if that were me? I don’t have a list. A list of people I hate, a list of people I can’t forgive, a list of people who can’t be forgiven. Still, it’s hard to let go.
It’s abstract. What’s the worst that’s ever happened to me? The occasional random act of violence, or of crime? Betrayal? Yes, that happens all the time in politics. Let down? Many, many times. Too many to count.
Brandt Jean got up in court and hugged Amber Guyger, the woman on her way to prison for 10 years for shooting and killing his brother. Accidentally, but…negligently, to say the least. I don’t want to discuss the details of the case itself. That’s a completely different rabbit hole.
“I forgive you.”
“I love you as a person and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
What if that were my brother? Or my mum or dad? Or my wife?
Could I stand up in court and forgive the person who did it?
I’d like to say…yes. I think I could. If I were convinced that it was just a horrible accident, I’m sure I could.
What if it weren’t an accident? What if it was deliberate, calculated murder?
What a powerful, powerful message Brandt Jean has sent out. A case that’s become all about race in the media, is actually about humanity. About forgiveness.
That Brandt Jean’s love for God surpasses anything else, that love drives out hatred.
It’s easier to forgive when you know that the State is doing its job of punishing the person for their actions. That’s the deal,
and so often in the UK that side is ignored. The State delivers justice; the individual forgives.
We wonder why people don’t or can’t forgive, and quite often part of the stumbling block is lack of justice.
And yet…we should forgive anyway.
For forgiveness to be complete, the other side has to want to *be* forgiven. Forgiveness leads to reconciliation only if that bridge is built both ways. Still, we need to be willing to forgive.
What an incredible, powerful message Brandt Jean has sent out!
I once spoke to a Christian friend of mine. I won’t mention names, because Facebook and confidentiality.
They spoke of people close to them, of time and time again that they felt let down. Issues coming back up from days, weeks, months, even years ago.
Words can tear us up, we can be blinded by hatred, hatred can overwhelm and overcome our daily lives. Sometimes, I think there are many atheists who aren’t really atheists at all. Many feel hurt, angry, hating God for something that happened long ago.
Yet everything could become a stumbling-block.
“Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
At so many weddings, that passage in 1 Corinthians 13 is read out. You know the one: Love is patient, love is kind….it does not boast, it’s slow to anger…and…
“Love keeps no record of wrongs.”
The ghost of slights, real or imagined, past. Nothing could be more corrosive, more toxic, to a friendship or relationship than the inability to let go. Only by letting go, can reconciliation happen – friendships rebuilt, relationships rekindled, futures forged.
Brandt Jean’s courage will not be forgotten. To DARE to forgive in a society where people are so often out for revenge. To DARE to forgive in a case where everything had become about toxicity and race-hate. To DARE to forgive when the victim wasn’t just his loved one, but the loved one of those around him.
And by daring to forgive, he made a statement that has reached across the world.
As a Christian, I am so proud of Brandt Jean.
Now…think of it from the other side. We’re all Amber Guygers, in one way or the other. We’ve all done some incredibly stupid things, selfish things – not to that scale.
Imagine a young woman so distraught over her own actions, on her way to prison, and the brother of the dead man would say those words to her.
Imagine the powerful impact that this forgiveness will have on her life. Imagine how it could transform her life, her future.
What if that were me?
I…think I could.
If it were an accident.
That’s not enough.
Even if it weren’t.
Forgiveness is unconditional: it’s a mirror. As we’re forgiven, we’re supposed to forgive.