A life changing encounter takes me to the next level
This past week I met Wilma Derksen over coffee and then had the pleasure of introducing her before she spoke to over 125 business people. I had read about Wilma in Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath. Meeting her and then seeing how her message affected this tough business crowd was inspiring to me.
Wilma’s daughter Candace was abducted, molested and murdered in 1984. It took police six weeks to find her frozen body and almost 20 years more to find and convict someone for the killing. The convicted murderer has recently appealed and won, and this has recently been sent for retrial – imagine what this whole ordeal would do to most people.
The Wilma I met:
- was not full of bitterness, but rather of love.
- was not full of revenge, but rather of forgiveness.
- was not feeling sorry for herself, but rather looking to share her journey and her amazing outlook.
- was not looking for pity, but rather was curious about my world.
Just some of the key things I took away from Wilma’s message:
- Remember and accept that life is unfair – and live it with gusto anyway.
- Don’t wait for justice – it is not coming (this does not mean let the world walk all over you).
- Love hard now – you never know what will happen next.
Forgiveness is the Key
Wilma had a good deal of forgiving to do so that she would be there for her other two young kids and her husband and not go crazy herself. She realized that her life would be forever changed when Candace was killed but over time she came to see that the change could be positive if she moved on through forgiveness.
- Forgive yourself – she forgave herself for not picking up Candace the day she was killed.
- Forgive your enemies – she forgave the man who assaulted and killed her daughter.
- Forgive the world for hurting you with indifference and uncaring – she forgave the justice system.
- Don’t wait for someone to change to forgive them – life is too short for this.
The challenges I face every day as a husband, father, friend, manager and leader suddenly seen pretty minor in comparison to what Wilma has faced. Using the lessons she learned, that allowed her to overcome such a terrible setback, will surely take me to the next level. I hope for you too.
You can see some of Wilma’s message and her charm by viewing her TEDx Manitoba talk from 2012.
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