Years ago, when I was young, I had opinions on what would I do, if “such and such” happened in my life. I think that when most of us hear of an experience that someone has, we think “well if that happened to me, this is what I would do”. We sometimes don’t agree with the decision that another has made, when that same thing happened to them.
When life does hand us lemons, and we are the one trying to make lemonade out of it, many times we come to a totally different decision. There are many reasons for this. Each of life’s lemons come to us wrapped up in a different series of circumstances. You could look at multiple experiences of someone losing a loved one to violence, and you would find that each instance was handled in a different way. This is because although the label may be the same “man killed by random shooting”, the circumstances in each case tell their own unique story.
In 1995 Tariq a pizza delivery man was shot and killed by a 14 year old gang member. Initially Azim, Tariq’s father could barely function. But he came to understand that the 14 yr old boy named Tony who killed his son, was also a victim. He felt called to forgive Tony, and became friends with Tony’s grandfather and guardian. He started a foundation to help kids stop killing other kids. He began talking with kids in schools about the realities of that lifestyle and the importance of making right choices.
He made lemonade out of his lemons. This foundation (http://tkf.org/) has grown into an organization of 13 full time staff members and 30 volunteers that mentor over 20,000 students each year. In the article I read, in 13 years they had touched eight million kids (the foundation is now over 20 years old). But I would bet that if you have asked him if this is the road he would take if someone killed his son, this is not the answer he would have given. His unknown road that he journeyed on revealed what kind of man he truly was. This is forgiveness in action.
We are all on a road, a journey to discover who we really are. What we are capable of becoming. Buddha says “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” Azim saved himself by walking the path of true forgiveness. He wanted to not only prevent other innocents from being killed, he wanted to save those other victims “kids” becoming killers themselves. His difficult road has lead to a beautiful destination – saving others.
What I have learned in life, is to hope that I can emulate the grace I see in others lives, as they grapple with life’s lemons. That until I find myself in that same hard place, I don’t really know what my decision will be. I do know that there is no turning back. So each decision needs to be made in prayer and meditation, with that understanding.
What I have learned from the lemons in my own life, is that I no longer allow someone to make me swallow up my soul, and dam up the words in my heart. That I don’t have to apologize for my imperfections, and allow the darkness of others to cover up my light. This is who I am, a woman of deep strength who keeps walking the path, knowing that new wonders are going to be revealed right around the next bend.