Copyright 2014, Jules A. Staats; Library of Congress, USA.  All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. This work may be previewed only.

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Cannot Forgive?

What happens to a person who harbors hate, thinks of revenge, and cannot move forward from a traumatic injury caused by another who could not care less and was glad that they disabled you?


          Jay was slowly recovering at home from a terrible boat accident that left him with a shattered jaw, numerous skull fractures and a prior doctor’s diagnosis of being brain dead.  His previous miraculous recovery should have been an inspiration to him as he had actually been to death and back.  However, human nature seems to completely miss or just forget the important facts and the miraculous recovery was completely overshadowed and ignored by his personal feeling of gloomy pity for himself.  His face and head hurt constantly and he had lost his just-purchased boat on his first trip on the water.  He had never heard of someone having such a terrible tragedy of injury and loss of property right after buying a recreational boat.  He started to question himself about his competensy to even do anything with a machine when on vacation.

          Doctors concur that the full recovery from a brain dead condition is impossible.  The injured brain expands in the skull and subsequently crushes and destroys itself.  End of story.  Yes, he had gained consciousness but the then expectation by the Doctors was that Jay would be a mental vegetable for the rest of his life.  Once damaged, a brain cannot be rebuilt let alone recover all the memories, personality and motor skills.  Of the thousands of children who have nearly drowned and starved their brains of oxygen, many are severely challenged and some have survived to become adults; nearly inanimate persons, requiring constant care usually deemed appropriate for new-born babies.

          Jay had not only recovered from a coma followed by a week of total amnesia, but then in a flash, recalled the accident details and everything else including past incidents, relationships, person’s names and so forth.  Most importantly, all of the lessons of life along with the intensive training and knowledge required to be a Sheriff’s Deputy retuned.  He would later demonstrate his pre-accident memorizing of the California Penal Code, and even case histories which dictated that police reports contain not just the elements of a crime, but include nuances that would lead to a successful conviction in a Criminal Court of Law.  Jay was again known as the “Information Man” when he finally returned to being a street patrol law enforcement officer.

          Go figure.

          But for now, Jay was still at home and was in the slow painful process of healing.  He still looked like a former prize fighter that had badly lost a prize fight and had been terribly beaten.  Today, like many previous days, his grief was centered on his personal injuries and the loss of his beloved boat.  It is possible that this boat may actually have been a form of an idol which he attended to, possibly a light form of worship.  He had read about worshiping object things in his bible some years before, and about placing something above his Creator, but that fact was not remembered at this time while he chose to revel in his suffering.

          It was about three weeks after the crash, and he felt a strong tug in his being—a suggestion--to contact the other party to see if their insurance would restore or replace his damaged boat.  He had a small insurance policy on his boat but it was designed to protect him from damage or injury liability.  Since this was 1971 there were no constant television commercials advertising lawyers who would handle everything and promise in a subbilimal way to make an injured person rich.  He had a name and phone number which had been obtained by an Arizona Deputy Sheriff and passed on to his family.  He decided to call, get some information and settle a lot of questions he had about possibly improving his situation.

          The driver of the other boat actually picked up the phone on the first ring.  Jay had expected to get some satisfaction but was soon faced with the reality of the type of person who had injured him. He was disappointed to find out that the other boat operator did not have any insurance whatsoever.  After learning this fact, the conversation went downhill from there.  He soon realized that he was speaking on the phone with an angry and arrogant man that would never accept responsibility for anything.  The final straw was the pointed and cruel statement from that other boat driver; “Hey cop, yeah I know you are a cop.” He continued in a mocking and abusive voice; “You are not getting nothing from me sucker.   As I see it, you were at fault, and were drifting down river, you got in my way and I hit you.  Tough luck, you lose (expletive) because you should not have been there.  Actually I really feel good about this because I got a chance to (explicative) up a cop.”  He then hung up.

          Jay held the phone receiver in his hand and stared at it in silence.  He was not well enough to argue and had not retained his ability to perform as an alpha male when appropriate.  Instead his chosen self-pity started to overwhelm him with a flood of emotions.  He did not pray for strength to fight against the evil thoughts that started to invade his mind.  Instead his thoughts drifted toward a revengeful mindset as he started to plan acts of retaliation against this person who hurt him and then mocked him.

          Because of this damaging mindset and over the next two weeks, he hardly slept as thoughts of planning payback crept into his mind.  As a trained law enforcement officer, all of his previous plans of reprisal actions would result in his going to prison or worse.  He knew that willful crime results in arrest and prosecution and that fact frustrated him even more.  The hatred he now felt toward this person was intense and consumed most of his waking time.  He no longer enjoyed food, television entertainment or associations with visiting friends.  He was becoming consumed with hatred.   After a fitful sleep, another possible evil suggestion would wake him up.  Hours of planning and analyzing would lead to the usual final conclusion that he just would not ever get away with any act of retaliation.  It was a vicious circle of personal self-destruction.

          Then, one sunny morning Jay’s thoughts—at long last--finally gathered together all the amazing and miraculous facts of the accident.  He remembered that he personally observed that the 20 gallon gas tank had ruptured on impact.  The bow of the other boat then continued to pierce through the bow of his craft as it slammed into the dashboard of his boat  As the dashboard containing the gauges broke apart the exposed electrical wiring was torn apart. Upon examination he had personally noticed that the severed ends of a thick #10 wire were obviously burnt, showing that a dead un-fused short circuit HAD to cause an electrical arc or sparks while being drenched with atomized gasoline vapor spraying from the torn gas tank.

          Jay’s Dad was a Medical Doctor.  Because of this he knew all about trauma and what happens to an injured brain.  He knew that his mind was still working.  He was not a vegetable and his vision had returned.  He walked to a wall mirror and looked at his black and blue and stitched up face.  He did not know that his two black eyes would take over three years to go away.

          The reality of what had really happened to him was finally laid before him and everything became crystal clear.  Jay had been actually touched by God, rescued from a doctor-pronounced death and given a second chance at life with only superficial visual marks as a reminder.  There was no resulting seizures or blackouts and there was no loss of feeling or muscle movement.  All he had at this time there were many areas of his face had no feeling due to severed nerves.  He could still alter his facial expressions even though his lower lip was completely numb.  Finally Jay realized the huge scope of what had happened to him.  This was a miracle and a definite gift from God.  After all this time he finally and humbly understood what had transpired. 

          He was completely alone in his house.  Right there in his bedroom he fell on his knees sobbed and prayed.  He thanked God for saving him and restoring him from death and a life of severe challenges.  And then he told God that he wished to completely forgive this man who hurt him and then later taunted him. 

          It was an immediate and profound feeling that came over Jay.  He felt a complete release of his anger along with an actual feeling of a terrible pressing weight being lifted from his shoulders.  His lust for retaliation and payback was gone.  The constant evil suggestions no longer haunted him.  He was again free and now could continue living his life as a person with care and love for his family and fellow man.

It was a great lesson in his life, and he never forgot this time when he was completely consumed in hatred.   It was a very important lesson that he passed on to others since he had learned the hard way about harboring grudges and hatred toward another human being.  He painfully is aware that holding these evil feelings within can consume and eventually destroy a person’s personality and even his life.  To survive in this world there is only one resolution, one course of action and that is to completely forgive with the help of our Lord.


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