“I’m going to kill you!” They were the words of a mother in a Detroit courtroom. She was yelling at her son’s murderer. In his book 10,000 Days, author Tom Hinton shares the incredible story of this young mother.
One night her son was working late at a convenience store when it was robbed. He was shot by a teenage gang member. They killed him because he recognized them and they were afraid he would turn them in.
At the sentencing the teenager was placed in a juvenile detention center. After months of agony and hate, the mother decided to visit her son’s killer. She wanted to make sure he never forgot the pain he caused by his heinous actions.
When she went she took pictures of her son to show the criminal. It was a long trip, but she went again and again for two years.
One day the young man shared that she had come to see him for a long time, and he wanted to tell her something. “I’m sorry for what I did. I’m sorry I hurt you. I hope someday you will forgive me.” The mother said nothing, she got up and left, and never came back to the prison.
As time went by she got a call from the parole board, the criminal was turning 18, and it was time for a hearing to determine what would happen to this teenager next.
At the hearing the mother shared that for two years she had come to the prison, filled with hate and bitterness. She shared the young man asked her for forgiveness, but at the time she couldn’t do it. He had taken everything that mattered to her.
She said she was ready to forgive him because she could no longer carry the hate inside. Then she said something that stunned everyone, “I’m asking you to grant him parole and allow him to come live with me. If you do that, I will give him the home he never had, the mother he never knew and the love he never experienced as a child.”
Her request was granted, and in the end she adopted this young man, who lived with her for 5 years. He now has a family of his own, and the mother whose son he killed has grandchildren and family to once again pour her love out on.
As Hinton shares, in order to find healing for herself she had to find forgiveness, she had to learn to love again. Not because the young man deserved it, but because she did.
As Cleveland, Ohio minister Alistair Begg shares, "Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling." It is a difficult action to take, one that can only be found when we choose love for our own lives. She learned that hate is the true prison, and freedom is found in forgiving.