Monty Williams, 49, coaches the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and is considered one of the NBA’s outstanding coaches.
This past June, the National Basketball Coaches Association nominated Williams as the coach of the year for 2021, and he came in second when the NBA handed out its similar award.
He has been credited for turning around the Phoenix team that had a 19-63 record when Williams took over the team in 2019. The Phoenix Suns are now playing in the NBA final with the Milwaukee Bucks, with the teams currently tied 2-2.
And though these are good days for Williams, he has also experienced some very dark ones.
In 2016, his wife, Ingrid, who played a key role in leading Williams to the Lord, was killed in a car crash when she was hit by a man high on Meth. Three of their five children who were also in the car survived the accident.
Williams was working as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the time.
In his wife’s eulogy, Williams spoke of how he forgave the driver who killed his wife, even though the person also died in the head on collision.
Williams referred to a plaque is his house that reads, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15), and Williams said part of serving the Lord includes forgiving others.
But Williams had to forgive, because if he didn’t, that person would continue to affect Williams’ life from the grave.
When we don’t forgive, the anger and resentments continue to ruminate in our hearts. We become like cattle that regurgitate previously eaten vegetation and continue chewing on it, but we are ‘chewing the cud’ in our mind, as traumatic memories remain alive, as we rehash and relive them.
And this can be extremely damaging emotionally.
The Mayo Clinic recently provided a list of the negative consequences that can take place in us when we refuse to forgive:
Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
Become depressed or anxious
Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others
But you would not have heard about this 30 years ago, because psychologists talking about the need to forgive offences is a very recent development.
According to an article in Psychology Today, modern psychologists only started talking about this after a groundbreaking study in 1989 revealed that forgiveness was a major step to emotional healing.
In his article, “Reflecting on 30 Years of Forgiveness Science”, written in 2019, author Robert Enright, PhD, says that up to that point psychologists avoided the topic of forgiving others largely because it was considered overtly religious:
This year marks an important 30th anniversary of which the world is hardly aware and from which the world has greatly benefitted. In 1989, the scientific community witnessed the first empirically-based published article in which there was an explicit focus on person-to-person forgiving. That paper appeared in the Journal of Adolescence with a focus on how children, adolescents, and young adults thought about forgiveness, particularly with a focus on what circumstances would make their forgiving more likely (Enright, Santos, & Al-Mabuk, 1989). Prior to this study, there was research on apology, or people seeking forgiveness, but never with a deliberate focus on people forgiving one another.
At the time, it seemed to us that forgiveness might be a controversial topic, suggesting perhaps weakness or an overly religious emphasis that would not be viewed favorably by the scientific community.
READ: Phoenix Suns Coach Monty Williams Forgave Driver Who Killed His Wife: Trusting “the only correct map of the human heart” AND Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness AND Reflecting on 30 Years of Forgiveness Science