When my daughter tragically and horrifically lost her life after being hit head-on by an extremely intoxicated driver, everything around me went silent and numb—all I felt was utter shock. And pain—extreme pain. It did not even matter to me at the moment how she had died. Those finalizing words said it all in that instant… “Miss Josie did not make it.”
It was not until several weeks after her funeral that my family began to process what had just happened, and who was responsible. Even now, three and half years later, the sense of longing to have her here with me supersedes any feeling of blame or anger concerning why she ever left this world in the first place… I just miss her.
When I consider what just happened to George Floyd, I am pained for his loved ones that were left behind. I hurt for Mr. Floyd himself, as I imagine the few looooong minutes he torturously had to endure before taking his final breath. My heart breaks to think that perhaps his momma, watching from Heaven, also had to witness her son’s most inhumane murder… She would not be the first, nor the last, mother to experience their own child’s agonizing death.
Jesus’ own sweet mother, Mary, had to endure this most bitter experience. When my own child was killed at the hands of another, I looked heavenward—relying on those who had been there and done that to somehow lend me strength and insight at how to “do this.” It was unfathomably hard then, and is not much easier now.
Forgiveness was something I never really questioned. For me, it was the right thing to do. I have said many times, that I do not hate the man that killed my daughter. Perhaps it was confusing to some that my family felt so strongly about seeking a maximum penalty for this man that I truly did not feel any malice toward… We believed then, and I believe now that it was the correct thing to do. Justice for Josie. It was not right that so much be stolen from us and her, and a price not be paid. This is not resentment, nor is it hate. It is merely paying some sort of consequence for an irreparable loss. Drunk driving is not an accident.
I could go on and on about how much I detest drinking and drunk driving, and the vast majority of our population that gives little thought to this law, or the life-changing consequences for countless individuals and families when this law is disregarded, but it is almost a waste of my already thin breath that would fall on deaf ears… It all comes down to choices—choices we all have. What kind of people will we choose to be, and how will we choose to live our lives with our God-given agency?
The man that killed my Josie made a bad choice that day. He used his agency to make the decisions prior that ultimately led him to get behind the wheel… Sadly, my precious daughter paid the very costly price for his poor judgment. Her agency was never an option.
I do not discuss her manner of death very often, because I feel it detracts from the beautiful, honest, humble life that she lived. She is so much more to me and my family than how she died—much like Jesus’ legacy. She was loving, forgiving, and exceptionally kind. In no way did she “deserve” to die while he lived, but I have left this piece in the hands of the Lord. He will do a much better job at sorting out all of the details in this matter than I could ever hope to do.
Forgiveness can be as uncomplicated as it is to simply love another human being—without conditions. It is so simple, that in fact, it eludes the comprehension of some of the most intellectual and wise among us. It is, however, exactly what Jesus taught us to do.
As I have watched the past few days how people are rioting in the streets of America over the unjust, and very wrongful death of George Floyd, my own journey through injustice, mercy, forgiveness, and just plain hard things have raced through my mind. I understand people’s anger; what happened was so twisted and evil at every level. What I do not relate to, is the violence later targeted at innocent people and businesses—whether they be officers or otherwise.
In the aftermath of Josie’s unfair and wrongful death, it would have made no sense for me to go charging into some random bar, creating a stir with the first drunk I could find… Just because my daughter was killed by a drunk does NOT imply that all drunks are irresponsible and selfish enough to drive that way, and just because people choose to drink does not imply that they are “bad” people. I am certain that the family of the man that killed my daughter can attest that he is a fine human being who, unfortunately, happened to make some bad choices…
George Floyd, however, was not killed inadvertently like my daughter… I am relieved that God will be the ultimate judge in this case, too, but I sure hope and pray that our justice system can do their part in upholding fairness and peace in our nation. Much like my bar example, I think it is truly heartbreaking and demoralizing that all police officers are being targeted and treated as though they, themselves, had committed this heinous crime. It is just not right. I know plenty of honorable men and woman that serve this country in a very upright fashion to the best of their ability, and out of the goodness of their hearts.
Agency is everything. Mass violence may get attention and even pressure our justice system to do what is right, but it will not ultimately change the hearts of those who are ill-intentioned to their core. We cannot force people to be good, or kind, or not racist… It has to come from within each one of us. That is the only thing that can truly change the deeper evil that rots our society. In my own bewilderment at the wasteland that is becoming Our Country, I again turn my thoughts heavenward and ask, “What would Jesus do?”