“I set myself free when I let him go.”

- Monica Hawkins

Monica Hawkins often woke up during the night to pray for her son, Donte’. On one particular night, something felt very different, so Monica prayed harder.  Earlier that evening, Donte’ had called his mother to let her know he was on his way home from college.  For the second time that night, she awakened, this time to answer a phone call.  “As I ended that call, my life, as I once knew it, ended as well,” states Monica. Within the next few hours, Monica said her final good-bye to Donte’, who had been shot and killed.

Monica experienced a wide range of emotions, including a deep desire for revenge.  The “person of interest” in her son’s case was not prosecuted because no one would testify.  She wanted that individual to feel the pain her family felt but knew this would never bring Donte’ back. Eventually, she found healing through forgiving.  “I set myself free when I let him go,” she shares.

If you are struggling with unforgiveness, here are some points to consider:

Choose to forgive.

  • Letting go of the negative emotions she felt towards the “person of interest” did not come naturally to Monica.  We must make a decision to forgive people who have wronged us.

Forgiveness is the key to freedom.

  • When Monica focused on revenge instead of forgiveness, she created a stronghold for negative feelings.  Forgiveness was the key to unlocking the door to that emotional prison cell.

Find a new purpose by reaching out to others.

  • Monica started several foundations to help others in crisis. Look for people around you who might need encouragement and support in situations similar to yours.
  • DMH Foundation – The foundation created to honor Donte’s memory by providing college books for students.
  • Revive 2 – The outreach ministry to help teens and young adults begin again after a tragedy.


Words to Live By:

Isaiah 61 (the entire chapter)

“O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety…” (Psalm 61:1-2  NLT).

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:14 NIV).



Dr. Ron’s Perspective:

The loss of a loved one through murder is a traumatic life event.  The impact can take an emotional and physical toll on family survivors.  Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, nightmares, and general feelings of insecurity are all common emotional reactions as a victim searches for a place of emotional security.  To grieve the violent death of a loved, one takes time. Survivors sometimes question how or why someone would take the life of their loved one. Feeling great anger towards the perpetrator is normal. However, anger, on its own, can lead to bitterness and long-term conditions like depression.  During a tragedy, victims can struggle to remember that God is in control when it may feel like He has deserted them.  Trusting God, in the midst of the pain, is an important step towards returning to positive emotional health.


Recommended Resources: 

The Problem of Pain   -C.S. Lewis
The Gift of Pain  -Philip Yancey
The Reason for God   -Tim Keller

A Shattered Heart: A Journey of Hope, Trust, and Healing  – Monica Hawkins




Video credits: Elizabeth Craig creator of The Beauty Within Foundation

Real People, Real Stories, Real God®
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