On a recent air flight, I found myself seated beside a very intelligent and well-spoken 71-year-old woman. She has her Ph.D. and a prestigious position at a university. She began asking me questions the moment I sat down. I usually hesitate to say what I do but eventually I shared. She asked me what led me to become a pastor so I shared part of my story with her. She got a new travel pack of tissues out of her purse and her tears began to flow as she listened to me, nodding in agreement at several things.

When I finished, I asked her what her story was. This seemed to catch her off-guard. But she began to share about abuse, divorce, and deaths of parents and a sibling. She talked about her anger towards her biological father. As she unraveled her story, I was struck by the depth of her pain. Ordinarily, it was hidden from view behind the mountain of her knowledge. She stated that she believes in Jesus Christ as Lord.

I asked her if she had ever chosen to forgive her dad, and she answered, no. I offered to help her if she was interested. She clearly was experiencing an inner battle about this: head vs. heart, heart vs. head. We talked about what Jesus said about forgiveness in Matthew 6:12-15. She suddenly said, “I think my real problem is I have never forgiven myself.”

After an hour of nose-blowing and tears, she said she was ready. I asked her to speak the words, “Lord Jesus, today I choose to forgive myself for…..” Then she did something quite extraordinary. She asked if it would be okay if she typed it, and I said, of course. Using her tray table as if it were a keyboard she pantomimed typing! She was even hitting the backspace button when she made a mistake. A flood of years of pain poured out. All of her intellect crumbled in the face of her Savior Jesus!

Her face was shining as we touched down in Minnesota. I asked her if I could pray for her then, and she said, “Yes, please. I guess that’s why I have one Kleenex left.”

Daniel Boone is the men’s ministry leader at Impact Church in Lowell, Mich. Daniel and his wife, Erica, have been married for 24 years and have two adult children, Jordan and Hannah, and two grandchildren.