To the Man Who Killed my Parents,
On this day, exactly six years ago, my parents were unexpectedly taken out of my life forever.
They weren’t taken by cancer or a mass shooting. They weren’t martyred on the mission field, killed for the cause of Christ.
No, the loss of my parents is due solely to the selfishness and recklessness of one man.
One man who made one wrong choice.
One man who chose risk over responsibility.
One man who decided to drink and drive.
You are that man.
I could never begin to tell you all of the emotions I have experienced since the loss of my parents. There have been the obvious emotions like grief, loss, depression, and pain; abandonment and loneliness.
The list of emotions I have felt could go on and on, but I want to tell you about the emotions that I haven’t felt because that list contains two specific items: Hatred and Blame.
There is no way for me to explain why I haven’t felt these two completely expected, and even accepted, emotions in a situation like this. No explanation except the grace and Love of God.
I would never think to say that I am just that good of a person or that I simply chose to never be angry at you. It was simply the grace of God sparing me from that burden, and His Love showing me what it is to be Loved by God and give the Love of God in completely unexplainable ways. (On that note, let me clarify that nothing I say in this letter is to make it seem as if my family and I are the perfect little Christian family who doesn’t feel hatred or anger. Far from it. We are a normal, messed up family, just like everyone else. We have simply learned that God is in control of everything, even tragedy and pain. And we only share our story in hopes that someone else will find the hope in Christ that has kept us alive.)
From the very moment when I learned of the accident, I believed that God allowed this to happen with a divine purpose in mind. I can’t explain how, I just did. Over the last six years, I have never been completely overcome with blame or hatred toward you. Of course, there have been times when I have been angry at the situation, overcome with the pain and loss. But God has spared me from the lifelong burden of hating you and I have two ideas of why He did so.
1) He knew that I couldn’t bear the weight of blame and hatred on top of the already too heavy burden of grief and sadness. He knew that I now had to live without my parents for the rest of my life and that their absence shouldn’t be filled with anger toward you.
2) He knew that this very moment would come one day.
You never met my parents but, if you had, you would have very quickly learned that their lives revolved completely around God. Their life’s purpose was simply to do what God wanted them to do. And their greatest joy was in seeing someone give their life to Jesus. For just one person to be saved, my parents would go anywhere, do anything… give their lives if that’s what it took.
Since their death, I can’t even count the number of people who have been touched and saved through my brother and I’s story of God’s Love through our loss. Even at their funeral we prayed with people as they gave their lives to God.
I’m not telling you this to make you feel guilt or regret. I’m telling you this because I want you to know that my parents would have willingly given their lives if it meant leading one man to Jesus.
You are one man.
Many people have asked us if we’ve ever been angry that our parents died and you lived. My family and I have discussed it at length and our answers have always been the same:
Do we wish our parents had lived? Of course. We would be heartless if we didn’t.
Do we wish that you had died instead? Absolutely not. We would be heartless if we did.
You see, our parents raised us to believe that, as Christians, we should have two main foundations: Be ready at any moment to lead someone to Christ, and be ready at any moment to die.
They knew they were ready to die and that their children would be okay. They would have never wanted you to be taken away, not knowing if you knew Jesus and leaving your young daughter behind. And they taught us to feel the same way. To remember that eternal souls are more important than this temporary life.
I don’t know if you knew Jesus before the accident or if you have accepted Him since. I don’t know if you have ever even been given the chance. If you haven’t, I’m offering you the chance now.
I pray that you surrender your heart and the rest of your life to Jesus. I can promise you without any doubt that it will be the best decision of your life. I pray that your daughter finds Jesus and learns to lean on Him in her Dad’s absence, just like I have.
I pray that you find relief, peace, and your own forgiveness in knowing that I have forgiven you, and so has God.
My pastor preached a message a couple of months ago where he spoke about living with the consequences of someone else’s mistakes. Both my brother and I thought of our story the entire time. We are living with the consequences of your mistake, just as much as you are, in different ways. We have found peace in trusting that God is in control of every situation and allowing Him to comfort us through the hard times. This same peace and comfort are your’s for the taking. We have found purpose in our pain in using our story to lead others to Christ. You have this exact same opportunity, you just have to accept it.
So, to the man who killed my parents, I pray that you run into the arms of Jesus. I pray that you accept your responsibility and guilt. I pray that you accept your chance to help someone avoid making your mistakes. And I pray, above all else, that you accept forgiveness.
Forgiveness from God.
Forgiveness from yourself.
And forgiveness from me, a girl who has made her share of mistakes and didn’t deserve to be forgiven. And yet, God has forgiven me every. single. time.
“Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.]
“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing (Matt. 6:9-15).”