Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: The Power of Forgiveness

Holding onto resentment towards those that hurt me is easy.  Forgiveness is hard.  But when I think about the great physical energy it takes to hold onto bitterness, I often wonder why I choose to carry around burdens that make my thoughts heavy and my ability to empathize weak.  I even put energy into giving weight to things that are forgivable and unforgivable.  I can forgive you if you talk badly about me behind my back, but if you abandon me, I cannot.  Heavier on the scale, I can forgive my parents for some of the mistakes they made like failing to talk to me honestly about sex, but not others, like subjecting me to abuse.  You may be saying, “Whoa. Child abuse is unforgivable.”  But is it?  What about forgiving the person who murders your child? Impossible?

Studies show that when we forgive we become more compassionate, optimistic, and self-confident.  Forgiveness lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and stress.  Harvard Women's Health states: “When you forgive someone, you make yourself—rather than the person who hurt you—responsible for your happiness.” (2005)

The health benefits of forgiveness are apparent.  The psychological and emotional benefits of forgiveness are clear.  But in some cases, I find it to be an incredible act of grace when one is able to forgive.  And when I come across astounding stories of forgiveness I am in awe.

This was the case when I read about Phyllis Ferguson, the mother of Chardon High School shooting victim Demetrius Hewlin. Very little time has gone by since the shooting incident transpired in the Cleveland suburb.  Less time has passed since the passing of Demetruis Hewlin.  Some people, including myself, take years to let go of resentment for much lesser crimes than the murder of a child.  Phyllis Ferguson’s ability to forgive the murderer of her son is a shining light in the horrific Chardon High School tragedy and an example for us all.   

Phyllis Ferguson (photo credit)
Ferguson’s son was also able to be an organ donor and save the lives of others.  Along with another shooting victim and organ donor, Russell King, the young men saved 16 lives..   Do you think Phyllis Ferguson would have been OK with her son being an organ and tissue donor if she was in a state of anger and bitterness?  It is absolutely possible that her ability and willingness to forgive saved lives.

“I taught Demetrius not to live in the past, to live in today and forgiveness is divine. . . You have to forgive everything. God’s grace is new each and every day. Until you’ve walked in another person’s shoes, you don’t know what made him come to this point.”
For her powerful message of forgiveness, 
Phyllis Ferguson 
is Wednesday’s Woman.

{Wednesday's Woman is a weekly feature dedicated to raising awareness of the wonderful women who are role models for our daughters and the world.  The Floor Is Yours!  If you know of someone to be featured and would like to write about her, let me know.  I welcome guest posts for sharing the story of someone you think is Wednesday's Woman.}

photo credit: lars_in_japan via photopin cc


  1. This is a truly amazing woman, I remembering hearing about this story on the news. I don't know if I have the strength to be so strong, especially toward someone who hurt my child. Forgiveness is powerful and freeing but just as difficult at times. Great post!

  2. What a great, thought-provoking post. It is interesting to think about. The longer we hold on to anger, the most power it gives to those who have wronged us, right? But if we let go and forgive, no more energy is going toward that person or situation. Phyllis Ferguson is an incredible person. Thank you for writing about her!

  3. Forgiveness is the key to healing. Another splendid pick for your Wednesday's Woman feature :) "Failing to forgive is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." This is a statement I ruminated on long and hard after finding out that my children had been sexually abused. I've gotten a good deal of flak from people for forgiving the perpetrator. Holding on to anger and rage and hatred is toxic. Forgiving is liberation and the key to emotional and spiritual health.

  4. beautiful post

    I'm part of a blended family and thus divorced, remarried, with 3 girls, 2 of which arent from my DNA. Our baggage means we know what forgiveness means.

  5. Her capacity to forgive is incredible. Awe inspiring, really. I just don't think I'd have the strength to be so forgiving, even though it's the better option; I just don't think I could do it.

    Powerful story!


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