Today is November 3 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you forgive others?” One of the more challenging aspects of navigating the chaos involves forgiving others. Rest assured, people will, either consciously or subconsciously try to derail your path as you put in the daily grind required to translate your dreams into reality. Forgiving those who wrong us is difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, but it is an effective strategy to navigate the chaos. There are serious psychological, physiological, and social implications involved with our inability to forgive.
As Tim Herrera wrote in a May 19, 2019 New York Times article “recent studies have found carrying anger into old age is associated with higher levels of inflammation and chronic illness while anger reduces our ability to see things from other people’s perspective. Forgiveness relieves the stress we put on our immune and cardiovascular systems.” According to Dr. Frederick Luskin, founder of the Stanford Foregiveness Project “Holding onto a grudge really is an ineffective strategy for dealing with a life situation that you haven’t been able to master. That’s the reality of it. Whenever you can’t grieve and assimilate what has happened, you hold it in a certain way. If it’s bitterness, you hold it with anger. If it’s hopeless, you hold it with despair. But both of those are psycho-physiological responses to an inability to cope, and they both do mental and physical damage.” Former professional football player John Dorenbos knows all too well the power of forgiving others.
On August 2, 1992, when John Dorenbos was 12, his father killed his mother. His father was charged with and convicted of second-degree murder, and sentenced to 13 years and eight months in prison. Dorenbos was sent to a foster home. After a legal battle, he was adopted by his aunt and uncle. It was during those years that Dorenbos began practicing magic as a way to distract him from the tragedy. Dorenbos originally attended Golden West College but transferred to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) after his friend, Paul Tessier, called to ask if he would like to be the long snapper for UTEP. Dorenbos learned the position, transferred schools, and played for three years. He would eventually graduate with a business degree from UTEP.
After college, Dorenbos was signed as a long snapper by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent following the 2003 NFL Draft. During his 13 year NFL career, he played with the Bills, Tennessee Titans, and then the Philadelphia Eagles. He would eventually play ten years in Philadelphia and finished his NFL career tied with Harold Carmichael for most consecutive games played for the Eagles. He was placed on injured reserve on December 12, 2016, following surgery for an injured wrist.
On August 28, 2017, the Eagles traded Dorenbos to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a 2019 seventh-round draft pick. On September 8, 2017, it was revealed that Dorenbos was diagnosed with aortic aneurysm, which required immediate heart surgery.
He was released by the Saints the next day and forced to retire from professional football. His condition required him to undergo immediate surgery and spend months rehabilitating. On February 4, 2018, the Eagles won Super Bowl LII. As a testament to how much Dorenbos meant to the Eagles organizations, owner Jeffrey Lurie promised Dorenbos he would receive a Super Bowl ring alongside the rest of the organization.
"My fate was what it was," Dorenbos said. "I'm just happy to be around guys I played with for so long." On February 16, 2018, Hollywood producer and Philly native Mike Tollin announced that he was making a movie about Dorenbos’ life. Magic brought peace and laughter during some rather difficult times as a kid, and the biggest reason he loves to perform to this day is to bring peace and laughter to others. “Magic saved my life,” he told a national TV audience, “And there have been plenty of times when I was lost, and I didn’t have the answers and I didn’t know where to go. So, what I did is I turned to magic, and it helped me find myself. It simply taught me do not hate, do not blame and to forgive. I’ve learned to forgive, and when that happens, we find ourselves.”
In his 2019 memoir Life is Magic: My Inspiring Journey from Tragedy to Self-Discovery Dorenbos wrote “Let me tell you, I have spent my entire adult life thinking about forgiveness and it is deep. Want to get healthy? Let go of whatever albatross has been weighing you down. There is a whole body of research out there that points to how transformative forgiveness is. Forgiveness helps reduce the stress we put on our immune and cardiovascular systems.”
How often are you able to forgive others?
What is holding you back from forgiving others?
What small step can you take today to start to forgive others?
Do you have the level of self-awareness to realize you are not forgiving others?
Are you able to focus on your dreams and still not forgive others?