I’m not a golfer, but during the Masters in April I found myself with bated breath hopeful that Tiger Woods would win. I wanted to believe that a comeback of such epic proportions was possible. I wanted to believe in the power of redemption. I wanted the happy ending story of a man who could achieve the unimaginable after he had hit rock bottom, physically and emotionally. It felt like the whole world was cheering for Woods – even his opponents. It’s just a game, but when Woods came out victorious it felt like more than a celebration of sport. It was a moment of unity, pride and hope – something that’s hard to come by these days.
As I watched Woods hug his son after having just made the comeback of a lifetime, I realized none of it would have been possible without the power of forgiveness. His kids, the fans, the sport all seemingly stood behind him. The strength to forgive ourselves or others is possibly the greatest gift we can give. If we are brave enough to admit and take responsibility for our mistakes and then find the strength to do good for ourselves and others, we deserve grace.
Most peoples’ lives aren’t publicly scrutinized to the same degree as Woods’. Many people fall from grace out of the public eye. Some of those people remarkably turn their lives around without the same celebration and support Woods received. One of those people was my grandpa Stan. Stan was an alcoholic for many years, and his behaviors hurt many people. However, that was not the man I knew. The man I knew was sober and had dedicated his life to helping others who were fighting the battle he once fought. He knew the power addiction could have, but learned there was greater power in kindness and understanding. He helped countless men turn their lives around. He became a family man and a successful business owner. If he hadn’t found forgiveness, he wouldn’t have been able to become the determined, generous and reliable man I admired.
Forgiveness doesn’t forget the past but is rather the act of giving a second chance. Are there things that are unforgivable? Possibly. That’s a decision we each must make. As we consider forgiveness, we should remember that each of us likely have things in our past of which we are grateful to have been forgiven. If we don’t forgive, the other option is to forsake. When we forgive ourselves and others, it lifts the burden of resentment from our shoulders, and opens a world of opportunity.
The opportunity that forgiveness allows can be a sports comeback for the ages that’s highlighted on a national stage, but it can also be a quiet story of a kind, gentle man who lived 40 years sober and spent the rest of his life helping others.
There’s too much heartache in the world to not forgive. If there’s one thing that unites us in these divisive times, it’s the need for forgiveness and the hope in its opportunity.
Danz is the manager of Zandbroz Variety in downtown Fargo and a member of The Forum’s Reader’s Board. This column was submitted for consideration in The Forum's search for "the next great columnist."