“That guy is driving way too fast,” I said to myself as I glanced in the rearview mirror. “He’ll probably just pass me,” I thought, and I turned my attention back to the wet road ahead. It was rainy afternoon, and I wanted to keep my eyes in front of me.
BAM! I felt a hard jolt and immediately swerved into the ditch colliding with a tree. I had just enough time to say a short prayer before passing out and not regaining consciousness until I found myself in the emergency room. I had massive internal injuries, a severed spine, and only a slight chance to survive.
The driver who hit me was a 71-year old drunk who had been convicted of numerous DUIs in recent years. He was driving an unregistered truck and without a license. I lay on my back undergoing surgery after surgery, suffering unrelenting pain, and condemned to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. That is if I survived at all. I did, and so did Herman Posey, the drunk driver.
“That rat bastard is walkin’ around free without a word of apology,” said Cedrick, my older and sometimes hot-headed brother. “We gotta do something about this,” he suggested to me and the others assembled in my hospital room. There was a low murmuring of agreement as everybody turned their attention to me wanting to see how I would respond. I waited a minute and gave my answer.
“No, Cedrick,” I said. “That’s not the answer. I have to focus on me and my recovery. I need your help to do it. If I worry about revenge and trying to set matters right, that won’t make me walk again. In fact, it will only hurt me. We have to let the system do whatever it’s gonna do, and we need to focus on my health. That’s what matters most to me.”
I don’t know where I found the wisdom or courage for that response because I was truly angry at what Posey had done to me. But I knew I had no future without finding a way to forgive, and in that single moment, I think I took my most important step toward recovery.
There seemed to be a collective sigh of relief in the hospital room when I gave my answer, and Cedrick went along with it. I can tell you it took two years of surgeries, grueling and painful rehab, and many setbacks along the way, but I am now as happy as I have ever been in my life. I have a wife whom I love profoundly. I have a child that makes me smile day and night, even when she gets her schedule upside down and won’t let me sleep. I have a job I love speaking to groups of high school and college students across the south and to a host of other organizations. I drive anywhere I want to go, and I do anything I need to do. Sometimes when Tamika and Brailey are both asleep, I sit there and smile and thank God for the way my life has turned out. And the only thing I know for sure is this. If I had not forgiven Posey and focused on revenge instead of recovery, none of these wonderful things would have happened. Forgiveness is a path toward grace, and it benefits the forgiver far more than the forgiven.
God bless you all.