Southern Forgiveness

It was late at night on December 8, 2012. My grandmother says that nothing good happens after midnight, and on this night, she was right. Josh Brent and Jerry Brown, Jr., both of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, were headed home after a night of partying. Brent, a 320-pound defensive tackle, was driving at speeds of around 110 miles per hour with a blood alcohol content of 0.18, which is more than twice the legal limit. For a man of that size to have a BAC that high, he was really trying to get drunk.

Brown, a linebacker on the Cowboys practice squad, was sitting in the passenger seat of his close friend’s Mercedes. The 25-year-old was due to become a father in less than two months. That sweet little girl will never know her father because Brent’s car hit a curb and spun out of control. When officers first arrived at the scene, they found Brent trying desperately to pull his friend and teammate’s body from the wreckage.

Brent was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years’ probation. He was released this past June and spent the final 45 days of his sentence in rehab. Yesterday, the 26-year-old was reinstated to his team and is being given a second chance. He will have to serve a ten-game suspension, making his approximate return this November.

Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, is giving the fourth-year man out of the University of Illinois a second chance; however, the part of the story that got to me was the victim’s mother, Stacey Jackson.

If my child was taken from me for reasons outside of his control, I would be bitter. I admit it. I would be angry and probably hold a grudge, but that is not what Jackson did.

“I’m very happy Josh has been reinstated with the Dallas Cowboys!” Jackson said. “My beautiful son is in Heaven now, and Josh has to be given a chance to live his life and do something for someone else! We all make mistakes, and we all have an entrance date and an exit day. Although I miss Jerry every day, I know he would be very happy that Josh has another chance to play football!”

Wow. I was stunned. This woman showed the attitude of Christ better than any sermon I have ever heard, and I’ve heard some good ones (Hello to all the preachers out there). Christ taught us to turn the other cheek and to forgive those who wrong us not seven times, but seventy times seven. We know this, and when people commit minor offenses against us, it is easy to forgive them. We can forgive someone lying to us, yelling at us, or even cheating on us. How many of us would forgive the one who killed a child of ours?

When asked about her forgiveness, Jackson replied: “Josh doesn’t have to answer to you or me. He has to answer to God, about what he has done with his second chance. Who has he helped with this opportunity that he has been given! I have to answer to why I didn’t forgive him and live out my life with taking care of my family.” This is a woman who has what my preacher refers to as “Kingdom vision”. She has her eyes on the Kingdom of God and lives her life in that Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is not just some place that we hope to go to when we die. The Kingdom of God is here and now.

The next time someone wrongs you, even if it is a serious wrong, remember the words of Christ. If that does not help you to forgive and live your life free from the pain of vengeance, remember the example of Stacey Jackson. She is a living sermon. Are you listening?

Peace. Love. Roll Tide.


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