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Healing by Forgiving Others


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Forgiving others can be one of the most difficult challenges you’ll overcome in your life. Jennifer Kauffman learned this firsthand when she became one of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing. 

Two years later, she was given the opportunity to craft a victim impact statement that she could choose to read at the trial. It took her two months to write. Toward the end, Jennifer found herself gravitating toward forgiveness. Her rage was setting her back physically and mentally, and she was ready to break free from the experience.

In this episode of Motivational Mondays, she shares her journey toward forgiving the unforgivable.

How Jennifer Leaned into Forgiveness

How do you forgive someone when they’ve shattered your life? Jennifer chose to forgive Dzhokhar Tsarnaev because she was longing for freedom. During the trial, she was one of 27 people who spoke their victim impact statements out loud. Only two other people used the word “forgiveness.”

Jennifer’s impact statement was six pages long. At the end, she said, “Despite all of the horrific things that you’ve done to myself, my family, my community, my fellow survivors, parents who lost their loved ones that day, I choose to forgive you and your brother for what you did.” Jennifer then experienced an overwhelming feeling of peace. It was a turning point in her life.

Choosing Survivor Mentality Over Victim Mentality

Jennifer believes that when bad things happen, you can choose to have a victim mentality or you can choose a different path. Though she never viewed herself as a victim, Jennifer had internalized the mentality. Then, she hit a point where she asked, “What if these so-called bad experiences are meant to help us grow?”

It took Jennifer several years to get to a place where she thought, “What if these things that happen in our life are meant to wake us up? Meant to bring us back home to who we really are? Meant to help us to find the love within ourselves… for ourselves and our fellow human beings?”

How a Horrific Experience Became a Gift

Six months after the bombings, Jennifer attended a meditation class. As she was leaving, her teacher said, “Someday, you’re going to see this as the greatest gift of your life.” That statement made her upset but Jennifer respected this woman and knew she’d never say anything to hurt her. 

That’s when she began to question if things happen FOR us instead of TO us. If you think something happens TO you, you automatically feel disempowered. Many things are outside of our control—they just happen. Jennifer emphasizes that we live in a society where we look for what’s wrong. But what if we condition ourselves to look for what’s good?

She believes when you practice this, you rewire the neural pathways in your brain. You change your trajectory. “You can survive life, or you can live life in a thriving state. Every single person on the planet has the God-given ability to thrive.” Listen to the episode to learn how forgiveness can have a profound impact on your life.

Listen to this episode to learn about...

  • [0:35] The process of learning to forgive her attackers
  • [4:28] The thought process that lead to Jennifer’s healing
  • [7:06] Answering, are you a victim or a survivor? 
  • [8:20] How a horrific experience became a great gift

Listen to the bonus episode to learn why Jennifer never wants to forget the bombing and the importance of embracing all of life’s experiences—good and bad.