Lessons from Alexander Hamilton

In the block buster musical, Hamilton, the song “It’s Quiet Uptown” reveals one of the most important and powerful things that happened to Alexander Hamilton in his life. He was a driven workaholic. He was arrogant, dominant, and unfaithful at least once. Moreover, Hamilton is largely responsible for the attitude that drove his son, Phillip, to a duel leading to his death. 

The song tells the story of how Hamilton and his wife are experiencing something “unimaginable.” But then, over time, something truly unimaginable happens. Eliza gives Alexander a great gift of grace that is the most powerful thing…forgiveness.

Your son needs to know that life will present him with unimaginable situations…betrayal, disappointment, hurt, and other things that will break his heart. He may even consider doing something unimaginable, but you can model for him that there is a better way.

His ability to forgive the offender is perhaps the most important factor that will lead to hope, healing and a life-renewed. It’s normal that his first response is not going to be forgiveness, but it must eventually come or the inner acid of unforgiveness will eat him alive from the inside out, and carries with it the, initially hidden, side effect of toxicity.

When your son has been wronged and his first instinct is to get even, please explain to him that the act of forgiveness is not for the perpetrator, but that forgiveness is for the offended. The conscious decision to forgive cracks open the door to hope, and brings about the possibility of healing and emotional growth toward maturity.

Fifteen years ago, when my wife, Kim and I were at one of the lowest points of our marriage she said to me, “Brian, I know that I have to forgive you, and it’s not for you, it’s for me.” She went on to say that her unforgiveness was keeping her frozen in the same emotionally painful place, and her unforgiveness was hurting her more than me. Yes, of course, I wanted her forgiveness, but her act of forgiveness set her free.

Forgiveness, while a complex issue for certain, is a choice that one makes if a relationship is to be restored. We don’t just forgive someone and then it’s “all better, case closed, now let’s go back to being happy.” That’s naïve. Healthy relationships choose to forgive and recommit to the relationship over and over again.

When Kim chose to forgive me, she didn’t know what the next day would bring, but she took that vital step. Each time there’s an element of risk and vulnerability. The result of such grace-filled action restored both of us with hope to stay together, to move forward….it literally set us free to live and love another day. Happy Anniversary Kim! For thirty-six years you’ve filled my life and our home with life and love. Unimaginable!

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