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This is What Radical Forgiveness Looks Like

Our culture celebrates the act of holding a grudge.

That’s why when we are confronted by Christ, it’s jarring. Consider that a trigger warning for this story from the Idaho State Journal about one woman’s ability to forgive:

If anyone is justified in feeling hate, it would be the mother of a teen whose murder went unsolved for more than two decades.

But as Rhonda Hunnel prepares for the trial of the man who police now say killed her 14-year-old daughter 24 years ago, she asks that others extend forgiveness and love instead of hate.

“I don’t need people to be angry and say things like ‘I hope he burns in hell,’” Hunnel said. “This needs to be about Gina, and she wouldn’t want that.”


For the first five years after her daughter’s death, Hunnel put God on a shelf.

“I had so much anger toward the man who killed her and toward so many other people over the years,” she said. “And that’s not who I am. But I was able to forgive, and if I’m able to forgive, other people should be able to forgive, too.”

Eventually, she had to free herself from the destructive cycle and let it go in order to heal.

“I feel lighter now and not so heavy,” Hunnel said. “My forgiveness had to start with the act itself. Every human being has the option of hurting others. When Regina was at that moment when her life was taken, God was present.”

God Bless this woman. It’s hard to imagine what she’s been through with two decades of the unsolved murder of her child hanging over her head, and now having to watch this trial go on. No one would blame her if her anger boiled over.

But forgiveness is truly a radical choice, especially in our world today. A brave choice.

And Rhonda Hunnel is a remarkably brave woman.


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