Did you ever drink poison…and wait for the other person to die?
Of course not. That would be silly. But is it really any different than holding a grudge against another person? Often our grudge is revealed in the words we choose.
Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Amen. Words have an amazing power to heal, but to tear down as well. Three of the most compelling words in any language are “I forgive you.”
Think about that. It doesn’t seem very difficult to say that sentence. But what if another man took the life of your wife and unborn baby? Could you say to that man, “I forgive you?”
Erik Fitzgerald can. And he did just that. Another man, Matt Swatzell, was driving home from a 24-hour shift at work, when he fell asleep behind the wheel. He awoke to discover he crashed into June Fitzgerald’s car. June died, as did her unborn baby. Their daughter, Faith, was also in the car and survived the accident.
Fitzgerald mourned and grieved with friends and family. But eventually he realized there was another victim here: the driver. Take a look at Fitzgerald’s words:
“You forgive as you’ve been forgiven. It wasn’t an option. If you’ve been forgiven, then you need to extend that forgiveness…I felt it was my responsibility to encourage him (Swatzell) and see the big picture.”
Regarding the possibility of Swatzell facing a felony and serious jail time, Fitzgerald said, “I didn’t see why this accident and tragedy needed to ruin any more lives.” Consequently, Swatzell paid a fine and performed community service.
Years later the two have become friends, each a critical part of the other’s life.
Swatzell now has a family of his own, but admits it wouldn’t have been possible without the grace and forgiveness shown by Fitzgerald. “I can honestly say that without his friendship I don’t know where I’d be,” Swatzell said.
What an amazing story. It’s a true illustration about the power of words. The power to forgive is in the arsenal of all of us; we simply need to find it. As we pray for God to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” let us remember the friendship between Erik Fitzgerald and Matt Swatzell.
And to let go of any grudge we may be holding.
In His Name,