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For a man who lost his entire family in a car accident, forgiveness is a source of spiritual power
Back in 2007, Christopher Williams made a decision that would change the rest of his life: to forgive the man who killed members of his family. - photo by Herb Scribner
Back in 2007, Christopher Williams made a decision that changed the rest of his life: He forgave the drunk driver who had killed his pregnant wife and two children in a car accident.

Williams chose to unconditionally forgive the 17-year-old driver because he knew it was what God and his late wife wanted him to do.

"Whoever has done this to us, I forgive them," Williams said. "I don't care what the circumstances were, I forgive them."

Now, eight years after the horrific accident, Williams story will be seen by hundreds of people across the United States in the film Just Let Go, starring Henry Ian Cusick (Lost, Scandal).

The movie, and Williams story, is a reminder for believers about the power of forgiveness, which many Jews and non-Jews are embracing through the Yom Kippur religious holiday. The holiday asks believers to repent for their sins and forgive others for theirs.

Forgiveness is something Christian scripture often encourages in its believers, too. For example, in Matthew 18 Peter asks Jesus about how often he should forgive people for their sins.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but 77 times.

But forgiveness can be tough, especially in dire circumstances, like Williams. Many believers had to learn how to forgive their partners after the Ashley Madison hack earlier this summer revealed to some couples that their partners had practiced infidelity and betrayed their lovers trust.

Similarly, Andrea Jongbloed, the concurrent disorders peer support coordinator at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, wrote for Relevant this week that she found it hard to forgive her friend who betrayed her trust.

But she soon learned it hurt more to resent her friend than it did to try to forgive her, making her see the importance of forgiveness.

Resenting others or situations from the past is a dangerous place to be, Jongbloed wrote. It is very isolating to focus on distrust and resentment, while everyone else in the situation carries on with life. It is easy to become cynical, and it can make it hard for you to trust new friends in the future.

Still, forgiveness doesnt always mean someone shouldnt face consequences and justice for his or her malevolent actions, according to Lohra Miller, the district attorney who represented Williams after the accident. She said that people shouldnt be let off the hook for crimes even though theyre forgiven by the victim.

Williams agreed.

"Forgiveness is a source of power, he said. But it does not relieve us of consequences.