Forgiving The Unforgivable

On the morning of December 14th, 2012, Jesse McCord Lewis walked out of his house and down the driveway towards his father who was waiting to drive him to school. Along the way, Jesse stopped to write a message with his finger in the frost on his mother’s car: “I love you.” Just hours later, Jesse was gone. He was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

Days prior to the tragedy, Jesse wrote three words on his chalkboard at home: “Nurturing. Healing. Love.” According to his mother, Scarlett Lewis, he had never done anything like that before. His mother understood these final words as a calling from Jesse to teach people how to change an angry thought into a loving one – because it is a choice. And that is exactly what his mother is doing. Scarlett has taken the pain from the period that she refers to as her “dark night of the soul” and turned it into a mission to teach people to choose love over anger, gratitude over entitlement, and forgiveness and compassion over bitterness.She is doing this through the foundation she created: the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Scarlett about the tragic events of that December day and the impact that it has had on her life and her family in the past year.

I was nervous before our conversation because, as the mother of two boys, I can’t imagine how one could survive that kind of pain. One year ago as I watched in horror and cried along with the families I never thought that I would be speaking with one of those mothers and that the topic would be forgiveness.

According to Scarlett, during the days and months after the shooting, her family received support from their family and friends, their community, and from people around the world. It was from that support that she derived her strength and began to focus on her blessings instead of her pain. It was during that time she decided that to get out of the black hole, she had to choose to do so.

She had to choose to take the focus off of her grief and turn it outward in service to others. She had to choose to live in gratitude. She had to choose to forgive the person that changed her life forever.

I am humbled by Scarlett’s faith, message, and determination to make the world a better place. She would have had every right to be bitter, resentful and angry. But instead this woman has chosen to live a life of service, gratitude and forgiveness.

Scarlett has taught me that there is nothing that can’t be forgiven, if we so choose. Scarlett is another example that in the wake of every tragedy, no matter how horrific, there is a gift or blessing if we choose to look for it and that we can heal and move forward if we choose nurturing, healing, love.

One year ago as I watched in horror and cried along with the families, I could have never imagined that I would be speaking with one of those mothers, and in some teeny tiny way be able to offer something back to them. Today I am so humbled by my blessings and thankful for what I get to do.

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