Who Do You Need to Forgive This Christmas?


Who Do You Need to Forgive?

Our longest-standing grudges are usually from our earliest days. That’s just the way time works.

And Christmas is often when we revisit those people, those hurts, that past.

Who do you need to forgive this Christmas?

There are lots of gifts we can give each other. But none is as powerful as forgiveness.

As you think about baby Jesus coming down to forgive you, think about you coming over to forgive someone else.

A Modern Example of Forgiveness

The story of Anthony Ray Hinton is a true one. He was wrongly accused of murdering a man at a Mrs. Winner’s restaurant and one at a Captain D’s in 1985.

He was sentenced to death row in Alabama.

The problem? He was innocent. He murdered no one.

It took almost 30 years for Mr. Hinton to be released.

And then what?

He did the unthinkable.

He forgave.

If Mr. Hinton can forgive, can’t we?

Listen to him, and then think about it.

Anthony Ray Hinton Says . . .

I forgive the State of Alabama for being a bully. You have to stand up to bullies. I forgive because not to forgive would only hurt me.

I forgive because that’s how my mother raised me.

I forgive because I have a God who forgives. . . .

We have to find ways to recover after bad things happen. We have to make every ending be a happy ending.

Every single one of us wants to matter. We want our lives and our stories and the choices we made or didn’t make to matter.

Death row taught me that it all matters.

How we live matters.

Do we choose love or do we choose hate? Do we help or do we harm?

Because there’s no way to know the exact second your life changes forever. You can only begin to know that moment by looking in the rearview mirror.

And trust me when I tell you that you never, ever see it coming.”

I first learned about Anthony Ray Hinton from Bryan Stevenson’s fantastic book Just Mercy (to be released as a film January 10 about Walter McMillian; see the trailer here).

I read about Mr. Hinton in the newspaper on April 3, 2015, the day he was released.

Then I read Mr. Hinton’s full story in his own book, The Sun Does Shine. Phenomenally told; it was one of my favorite books of 2018. He is also featured in the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, a powerful place. I may never meet Mr. Hinton, but his life (and Bryan Stevenson’s) has profoundly affected mine.

Who do you need to forgive this Christmas? Whose forgiveness do you need to accept? Please share in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Who Do You Need to Forgive This Christmas?

  1. Michele Morin

    I’m in the midst of preparing a devotional for a Christmas event, and the topic of forgiveness keeps finding its way into the outline. It’s such a God-sized challenge for us to let go of our own thoughts on justice and to practice mercy as we have received it.

  2. bill (cycleguy)

    What a great thought today Lisa! I have found the failure to forgive does more than play havoc with your spiritual condition. Even those who are not Christ-followers can learn the importance of forgiveness. I have…on both ends.

  3. Martha J Orlando

    Mr. Hinton’s story is a powerful one, indeed, Lisa! It reminds me of the recent incident in the courtroom where the brother of the murdered victim forgave the woman who pulled the trigger, even going so far as to hug her.
    Forgiveness is a gift from God, and one we should always readily share with others.

  4. Theresa Boedeker

    So true. Many of our hurts come from our early years. This is a powerful post. Sometimes I find that I think I have forgiven, and then a situation happens, and I find there is more to forgive. It is often such an ongoing process. But bitterness is not something I want as part of me. And then I think about Jesus forgiving me. And how can I deny someone forgiveness when I have been given it? And so a letting go takes places. Oh, to be better at this and recognize my unforgiveness earlier.

  5. Laurie

    I read Just Mercy, but I did not know that Mr. Hinton has also written a book. This is one voice I want to hear. What an inspiring example of forgiveness. It puts my petty grievances to shame!

  6. Karen Friday

    Wow, Lisa, those thoughts from Hinton are so powerful! And love this, “There are lots of gifts we can give each other. But none is as powerful as forgiveness.” So true! Thanks for visiting and reading my blog on the gift of forgiveness and thank you for sharing your powerful message!

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