Would you be able to forgive a man who murdered your mother, father, son or daughter? This chilling question, though unpleasant, is one that countless families are faced with on a daily basis.
Many times, forgiveness is easier said than done. It's often simpler to implore others to have mercy on those who have wronged them than it is to do the same when we face challenges and pain in our own lives. Now, gmc TV, a television network focused upon positive and uplifting music and entertainment, is taking on this complicated dynamic on in its new series "I Forgive You."
Photo Credit: gmc TV
A description of the moving program explains, in detail, its intended purpose:
An emotional, uplifting and compelling one-hour documentary series which allows individuals the opportunity to forgive someone who has hurt them or a loved one. Whether the affliction is physical or emotional – the murder of a family member, an estranged parent, or sibling, infidelity, or bullying – the series brings two parties together to try and facilitate healing, overcome hatred, anger and revenge from real-life traumatizing events. Guided with mediation and healing support from educator and therapist Angie Richey, each story will showcase the ‘forgiver’ and the ‘receiver’ of the forgiveness before, during and after an act of forgiveness.
The stories will certainly bring tears to the eyes of a great many viewers, as they show the difficult path that sometimes leads to forgiveness, while also highlighting the life-altering change that "letting go" can provide. Consider Mary Johnson's story. Her only child, Laramiun Byrd, 20, was murdered in 1993 by 16-year-old Oshea Israel, a young boy who was involved with drugs and gangs.
During an altercation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Israel pulled a gun on Byrd and ruthlessly shot him four times (three shots to the chest and one to the head). Even at the time, Israel recalls being unable to pinpoint a reason for his senseless action.
"After me pulling out the gun and shooting I just kind of stepped outside of my body from that point," he recalls in the gmc TV episode covering the story. "When we were in the car, I just heard people saying, 'Why did you shoot him. Why did you do that?' I really didn't have any answers."
Naturally, Johnson recalls the emotional horror she faced as a result of the crime.
"I hated him. I viewed him as an animal. He deserved to be caged," she explained in a recent clip from the show. "And that [was] absolutely justice. That's what I wanted."
But at some point, these strong emotions began to simmer and Johnson claims that she could feel "the Holy Spirit speak," telling her to pray for the young perpetrator who killed her son.
"I felt something leave me. All that junk that I had been holding onto for 12 years -- it was gone," she recalls, noting the powerful feelings she experienced upon finally forgiving Israel. "I just knew that I was free."
In the end, the young man served 17 years behind bars. Upon release, Johnson was feeling so charitable and forgiving that she not only invited the murderer to live next door to her, but she also became good friends with him. Now, the two neighbors regularly share their story of pain and redemotion with audiences.
Below, watch Johnson and Israel discuss their story in an episode of "I Forgive You":