In light of recent events with the murder and trial of Trayvon Martin, Boston bombing and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, I’m sharing a beautiful work of love and truth by Author, Speaker and Kirsty TV guest, Chappale Burton. If anyone knows the power of forgiveness, it’s this man who was abused as a child by his step father and witness the murder of both of his parents as a young boy. Watch our interview about his childhood trauma after the article at the bottom of this page. I hope his words speak to your heart.
The Magic of Forgiveness
By Chappale Linn Burton
When one talks about forgiveness, for many it is loaded with feelings of heaviness, doubt, confusion and discomfort. Yet the dialogue surrounding the magic of forgiveness and the associated freedom to move forward in creating a great life is seldom examined. I’ve realized that being a forgiving person seems to have magical powers in my life, and it could do the same for you too if you’re open to process and allow it to work in your life. Forgiving people, letting go of issues and leaving them in the past has created the mental and emotional space for me to move forward and soar in life. Holding onto grudges and not forgiving simply shackles you to your past and holds you back from living fully in the present, which of course affects your future.
I have many examples from my past where I have seen forgiveness work its magic. I’ll share a few particular acts of forgiveness that have had a large impact on my personal well-being. By the time I was eight years old, I had endured years of brutal abuse by my step-father. The violence culminated in me witnessing the murder of my mother and step-father in broad daylight at the hands of a third person. I can confidently and happily say that I have now forgiven both my step-father and the man that killed them both and it changed my life drastically. I could say that it was easy for me to forgive, but it wasn’t. You see, as long as I was holding on to the hate and resentment that I had for my step-father and the man that murdered them, I had a great excuse to not live my life fully. I had lots of reasons to be mediocre, I had lots of reasons not apply myself at school, I had lots of reasons to act out because remember ‘I was the abused kid that witnessed a cold-blooded killing in broad daylight’. As I said, it took time for me to forgive, it certainly was not an overnight process but I did a lot of soul searching and the healing process has been well worth it because of all the great things that I have been able to create in my life in that space that might have otherwise been clouded with negative emotions and thus negative manifestations in my life.
The big question that I get regarding my step-father and the man that murdered my parents is exactly how did I forgive them? There wasn’t a magic pill. Again, it was a process and I had to be willing to do the work, but in a nutshell I started asking myself some interesting questions and had to be very honest about the answers. In life, perspective is a powerful concept, and I have found that questions always help you to see other perspectives so that you can change the way that you look at things. For me questions like, what would make someone want to do something like that? What is his family going through knowing that their son, brother, dad, just killed two people? The toughest question was, what could be good about this situation? There are many more questions that I came up with and this internal process may have taken some time the first time that I did it, but now, with much practice, I am able to forgive the moment I think of the word forgive. Some of my answers to the above questions were something like, ‘he had to be in a lot of pain himself in order to want to take the lives of others, or just mentally unstable’. The second answer was that his family must have gone through major emotional turmoil from doubt and disbelief to sadness, embarrassment and disappointment. And, the last question, was that my mother was now free from a miserable life and I no longer had to live in fear from the constant physical and emotional abuse that I endured. I experienced REAL freedom when I was truly able to forgive, it was like the clouds parting and the sun shining brightly and I had just removed an 800lb gorilla off my back.
In the wake of the recent verdict of the Zimmerman trial, whether guilty or not guilty, unfortunately for his parents and loved ones, nothing is going to bring Trayvon back. The way to keep Trayvon Martin alive, is through the fond memories they have of him. The way for his loved ones to continue living and not have this tragedy attach an 800lb gorilla to their backs through the rest of their journey here on earth, is through forgiveness. As challenging as it was for me for my mother to be killed at such a young age, as a direct result of that happening, many things happened in my life that may not have occurred otherwise. As a direct result of my mother’s death, my grandmother raised me in Jamestown New York. I was removed from the ghettos of Chicago, where as a young black male the chances making it to the age of 25 may have been slim, I went on to thrive as I attended college, became an athlete, a husband, a father, a motivational speaker, author, entrepreneur…the list goes on. So, as challenging as ‘forgiveness’ sounds in the wake of this verdict when the wounds are so fresh, over time as we forgive the justice system, forgive a country filled with racial divide, forgive Zimmerman (whose life will never ever be the same), the magic of forgiveness will start to work.
The main point of this article is to share with you how I was able to forgive in the hopes that you can use these examples of forgiveness to forgive someone (or even yourself), free yourself from your past, so that you can enjoy the magic of the present and look forward to a bright future.
motivational speaker. author. coach.
Chappale has been a student and teacher of self development principles for the last twenty years and has helped and continues to help many people make positive choices in their day to day lives. He is the author of ‘How To Choose Happiness — 30 Ways in 30 Days’.
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