She Experienced A Horrific Kidnapping. Hear Her Message For Her Kidnappers.

It was every parent’s worst nightmare. Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart was abducted at knifepoint from her bedroom. For nine months, she was hidden away by her captors, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee, and told she was now Mitchell’s wife. What she experience during those months was horrific to say the least. Thankfully she was rescued in 2003, when a witness recognized her kidnappers from America’s Most Wanted.

Most people would be crippled by the trauma Elizabeth experienced, but her mom had a strong piece of advice for her:

“Elizabeth, what these people have done to you is terrible, and there aren’t words strong enough to describe how wicked and evil they are. They have stolen 9 months of your life away from you that you will never get back. But the best punishment you could ever give them is to be happy, is to move forward with your life, to do all the things you want to do. Because by feeling sorry for yourself, by holding onto the past, by reliving it, that’s only allowing them to steal more of your life away from you. They don’t deserve that. They don’t deserve a single second more.”

When Elizabeth finally faced her captors in court, she realized she’d successfully followed her mom’s advice. Brian David MItchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee no longer had power over her.  When given the opportunity, she told them she had moved on and was going to live a wonderful life.

“I realized forgiveness is not for the other person,” said Elizabeth. “It’s for yourself. Life is so worthwhile, and no matter what has happened to you, no matter what your background is, no matter what your past is, each of us deserves to be happy. Bad things do happen, but that doesn’t mean that they need to define us. Because in the end, what defines you is how you react, the decisions that you make.”

Will you let forgiveness define you today?