Choosing Forgiveness

Bud Welch’s 23-year-old daughter, Julie, was killed when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. He wrote in 2001 about his journey and struggle in the process of forgiveness.

Statue outside the Murrah bldg in OK city. Below statue reads "And Jesus Wept"

“All my life I have opposed the death penalty. Friends used to tell me that if anyone ever killed one of my family members, I would change. But I always said I’d stick to my guns. Until April 19.

The first four or five weeks after the bombing I had so much anger, pain, hatred and revenge, that I realized why, when someone is charged with a violent crime, they transport him in a bullet-proof vest. It’s because people like me would try to kill him.

By the end of 1995 I was in such bad shape, I was drinking heavily and smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. I was stuck, emotionally, on April 19. I just couldn’t get over it. But I knew I had to do something about it. That’s when I went down to the bombing site.

It was a cold January afternoon, and I stood there watching hundreds of people walking along the chain link fence that surrounded the lot where the Murrah Building had stood. I was thinking about the death penalty, and how I wanted nothing more than to see Timothy McVeigh, and anyone else responsible for the bombing, fried.

But I was also beginning to wonder whether I would really feel any better once they were executed. Every time I asked myself that question, I got the same answer: No. Nothing positive would come from it. It wouldn’t bring Julie back. After all, it was hatred and revenge that made me want to see them dead, and those two things were the very reason that Julie and 167 others were dead….

Forgiveness is a struggle, but it’s one I need to wage. Forgiving is not something you just wake up one morning and decide to do. You have to work through your anger and your hatred as long as it’s there. You try to live each day a little better than the one before.”

Source: The Plough Reader Spring 2001

H/t to Inward/Outward

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