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When Forgiveness is the Only Thing Left to Do

forgivenessAlmost 15 years ago Saundra Adam’s grandson, Chancellor Lee Adams came into her life in the most heart-wrenching way. One night in 1999 after the past NFL player Rae Carruth and Cherica Adams went to a movie they got into separate cars to drive back to Cherica’s house. As Cherica parked another car drove beside her revealing a gun and fired a number of rounds into Cherica. At the time Cherica was in her third trimester with Chancellor and had enough energy to dial 911 and implicate Rae in the shooting. The paramedics got to Cherica in time to save her son’s life and performed an emergency c-section. Because of Cherica’s death, Chancellor had been oxygen-deprived and would spend the rest of his life with severe disabilities unable to feed and change himself.

But Saundra, his grandmother who inherited him tells this a different way.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated she says:

“I’m not gonna have anything negative to say about him,” Saundra says of Carruth. “I thank him for my grandson. I thank him for my grandson. . . . Like I say, you can focus on what you’ve lost or what you have left. So I didn’t lose. I have my grandson. I have my daughter with me in my heart, always.”

Some might say that Saundra is in denial, but Saundra made the decision not to hold onto the hatred and anger and instead spend her invaluable resource of attention in a different way.

In The Now Effect you’ll read Lily Tomlin’s quote that says,

“Forgiveness means giving up hope for a better past.”


“You have already been wronged once; why continue to let something in the past cause you pain by holding on to it? Many people maintain the erroneous belief that holding on to past events somehow hurts the other person. It does not. It hurts only yourself. In fact, the practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce stress, anger, and depression and support many aspects of well-being and happiness.”

Sometimes we can spend months, years or the rest of our lives holding onto something that inevitably burdens our soul and actually causes mental and physical illness. It’s a feeling of stuckness where we just don’t know what else to do.

Perhaps the only thing left to do is give yourself the gift of forgiveness.

Whether the affront was done knowingly or unknowingly, it is often done from a place of fear, anger, confusion, or ignorance. Sense into the time you have held this pain and to the extent that you are ready to release this burden.

Forgive, forgive, forgive, it’s one of the greatest acts of self-compassion you can perform. There’s no doubt in my mind that Saundra is better off for it.

“Breathing in, I acknowledge the pain, breathing out, forgiving and releasing this burden from my heart and mind.” ~ The Now Effect 

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Forgiving hands photo available from Shutterstock

When Forgiveness is the Only Thing Left to Do

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2012). When Forgiveness is the Only Thing Left to Do. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Dec 2012
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