I am amazed sometimes of how hurtful human beings can be to one another. Cruelty goes beyond what is even possible to imagine. Many in our world have suffered unspeakable pain, maybe even at the hands of people they should have been able to trust.
Sometimes those hurts are intentional. At other times they seem to be random. Consider the case of:
Victoria Ruvolo on a November evening in 2004, who was driving to her home on Long Island after attending her niece’s piano recital. She was looking forward to a nice quiet evening at home. She doesn’t remember seeing the silver Nissan approach from the east. She doesn’t remember seeing an 18 year old kid hanging out the window holding of all things a frozen turkey. He threw it at her windshield.
The 20 pound bird smashed through the windshield, bent the steering wheel and smashed Victoria’s face like a dinner plate on the concrete floor. The violent prank left her struggling for life. The doctors permanently wired her jaw in place. One eye had to be re-attached with a synthetic film and titanium plates were inserted into her cranium. Victoria will never look in a mirror again without a reminder of her hurt.
But she determined not to let her hurt scar her soul. She committed her hurt to God and trusted that He could somehow bring good out of her tragedy. Nine months after the disastrous November night Victoria stood face to titanium bolted face to her offender in court. Ryan Cushing was no longer the cocky, turkey tossing kid in the Nissan. He was trembling, tearful and apologetic.
For the people of New York City he had come to symbolize a generation of kids out of control. People packed the courtroom that day to see him get what was coming to him. For weeks the prosecution and the newspapers had been pushing for a maximum sentence. That’s why the judge’s sentence enraged them – only 6 months behind bars, five years of probation, some counseling and public service. The courtroom erupted. Everyone objected.
Everyone that is except for Victoria Ruvolo – the reduced sentence had been her idea. The boy walked over and she embraced him. In full view of the judge and the crowd she held him tight and stroked his hair. As he sobbed she spoke softly “I forgive you, I want your life to be the best it can be.”
Later she told reporters: God gave me a second chance at life, I simply passed it on. She went on to add, if I hadn’t let go of the anger, I’d be consumed with this need for revenge. Forgiving him helps me move on. Her accident even led to a new mission in life. Victoria began to work as a volunteer with the probation office. She’s become known in that area as simply the Turkey Lady. With amazing humor she says,” it could be worse, if he’d thrown a ham I’d be known as Miss Piggy. Victoria Ruvolo understands the power of forgiveness.
I wonder this morning, do we? As Paul so eloquently puts it in Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Accept his forgiveness, then pass it on.
Have a great week!
Tuesday Morning on the Run
Inspirational thoughts from Pastor Barry Lawson