Forgiving the Man Who Murdered My Mom
Almost ten years later, another spin-off tornado from my mother's murder rocked me. My brother, Mike, had been the one to find her broken body. In 2004, he told me that he still had flashbacks and was severely depressed. As a clinical psychologist, I was unable to help him because I let our childhood dynamics get in the way. Mike soon took his own life. That set off waves of self-condemnation that led to a dark time of anger at God. Yet eventually I was able to forgive myself for my failures. Even better, I found that the personal relationship with Jesus I had discovered in my immaturity—peeking to see whether people were sincerely praying—was robust. It stood a second huge test and helped me face my own spiritual crisis.
Sociologist Robert Wuthnow has said that life is made of times of dwelling comfortably with God and times of seeking God. We never know which is around the corner. Although we might have walked a trail often, each trek is new. When the sun breaks forth, we can discover the day's beauty. When it storms, we must beware of treacherous footing.
There are many trails up the mountain, but there is only one way to the summit. We can't always tell, but we are not walking alone up that mountain. It is a beautiful trip when we stop watching our own feet and gaze at the One who goes before us.
Everett L. Worthington Jr., PhD, is professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a licensed clinical psychologist in Virginia. His most recent book is Moving Forward: Six Steps to Self-Forgiveness and Breaking Free from the Past (WaterBrook Multnomah, forgiveself.com).