Forgiveness and Reconciliation
This is a tough one to share for several reasons, but often times saying “I love you” requires egos aside; mine. I will identify this person as MCR out of respect for our relationship and the events leading up to forgiveness and reconciliation.
Over 20 years ago as a patrol officer just beginning my career out of the Academy, I made a traffic stop. Not unlike other traffic stops, this one began like most. I was on an empty section of Louisiana Highway 1 north of Thibodaux’s city limits.
Except this stop quickly escalated into a confrontation with the driver and passenger.
Finally regaining order, I noticed a van parking along the highway directly across from my vehicle. The driver jumped out and began running across the highway yelling at me. I recognized him as someone I have crossed paths with before this night.
Swinging open the van door, he reached under the driver’s seat. My duty weapon was drawn and fixed on his torso. I quit giving orders to stop, and focused on the sight picture at the end of my barrel. He was squarely in those sights as he grabbed under his seat, and I began to apply pressure to the trigger.
My breathing was shallow as I continued pulling the trigger. As he spun facing me, I watched his hand come from under his seat clutching an object.
Just before completely squeezing off the trigger I noticed a glimpse of light brown, or tan in his hand. It was a pair of house slippers. I almost killed this man over a pair of house slippers. I hated this man over 20 years for his behavior and the personal grief he caused over the highway confrontation.
About 1 year ago, now the Chief of Police, I allowed this same man into my office. Much older and frail, he angrily began this meeting, and the hatred resurfaced. Then he said, “Scotty, you are a good man. I watched you grow into a man your momma would be proud of.”
I felt my anger ease, and then he sobbed saying, “I’m afraid to die.” On his way to a doctor’s appointment, he was fighting a battle with aggressive cancer. He stopped in to ask for help with a citation.
I began to feel shame over holding such hate inside for so long. Then as he sat across from my desk he sincerely asked that I pray for him. Most of the time people politely respond with, “I’ll pray for you,” but seldom do.
I was overpowered by the Holy Spirit, and sprung up out of my chair as if jerked by the collar. Uncharacteristically, I said “let’s pray now” as I almost sprinted around that large desk, as he did over 20 years ago coming across that highway.
I helped him out of the deep chair and we clasped hands tighter than I thought his trembling body could muster. I prayed for him as we both began to weep. Neither focused on the cancer. It was the healing of emotions running so deep for so long.
I asked God to forgive me and bless my Brother with peace. I was thankful God brought him into my office and my life. I was moved so deeply in prayer as I felt the weight of hate, the chains of anger, and the bitterness of resentment fall from my spirit.
This meeting was not about a traffic citation, it was God allowing two broken spirits an opportunity to forgive each other. It was also about the power of reconciliation that after 20 years, two strangers could clasp hands as brothers in common prayer.
His visit blessed me with peace in my spirit and the chance to put my ego aside to say “I love you Brother.” We continue to communicate over the phone as his health declines, but I always, always reassure him of my prayers.