The Choice That Set Us Free

17 Aug

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles

Janet Eckles Perez


“Turn that off,” I finally said to my husband as I walked in the TV room.

The nightly news blared yet another angle of the George Zimmerman case. The sad details stirred painful memories of our own trial—the prosecution of the man who killed our 19 year-old-son 10 years ago here in Florida. The man who stabbed him 23 times pled self-defense and the verdict also declared: not guilty of all counts.

The rage, the injustice and the protest that has been dominating the media were familiar to us. But more importantly, the details remind us of the decision my husband and I made back then. After nights of diligent prayer for strength. After pleading God for comfort. And after claiming the victory He would bring, we made the choice. The decision to forgive the killer.

The process wasn’t easy, nor the task simple. We chose to forgive because God had instructed us to do so. Were we such good Christians that we would obey? Not really. But we were desperate to be set free from anger or resentment that could’ve held us prisoners.

God said to forgive. But he also said without Him we can do nothing. He said not seek vengeance. But He also said Vengeance belongs to Him. He said to find joy in Him. But He also said to have a heart free of malice.

We found the peace that goes beyond all understanding. We learned firsthand the freedom that forgiveness brings. We found that tragedy happens, evil abounds, but triumph through the power of God is possible.

Writing about this episode is not easy. But the price Jesus paid for murderers wasn’t easy either.

Media hosts have asked me during interviews: What words would you say to the mother of a victim to murder?

I would say three things:

*Seek God’s help for the grieving process. Although it’s impossible to overcome the pain without His help, the journey is different for everyone.

*Be careful to choose what fills your mind. The mentality of a victim never reaches victory.

*Honor your child’s life by turning this painful episode to a powerful message. I suggest inviting those who have a high profile and are outspoken folks to use that same energy, passion and efforts to teach, to encourage and show young people of ALL ages the evil of violence, the value of self-control and the power of forgiveness.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14.

Since Jesus gave us the power to forgive, our family’s loss turned to the gain of God’s gift. The gift of freedom wrapped in forgiveness.

For we know that unforgiveness is the chain that keeps us bound. And Forgiveness is the choice that sets us free.

The full story is included in Janet’s #1 best-selling book Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta.

2 Responses to “The Choice That Set Us Free”

  1. Onisha Ellis August 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    “For we know that unforgiveness is the chain that keeps us bound. And Forgiveness is the choice that sets us free.” What a powerful statement and so true


  2. Louise Gib son August 17, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Janet, how heart-wrenching to lose a son—-especially in such a cruel manner. I trust that God has brought comfort to you in the healing process.


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