Mandisa Hundley used to sing in the church where she grew up in Citrus Heights, California. After high school she studied jazz at American River College before transferring to Fisk University in Tennessee. There she earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. She worked as a backup singer for Christian and country artists, but her big break came in the fifth season of American Idol.
Mandisa sang for the judges, who cleared her through to the Hollywood round. But after she left the room, judge Simon Cowell made a sarcastic remark about her weight: “Do we have a bigger stage this year?”
On the next show, Mandisa came out to see whether the judges would pass her through to the next level. She looked at Simon and said, “Simon, a lot people want me to say a lot of things to you. But this is what I want to say…yes, you hurt me, and I cried, and it was painful. It really was, but I want you to know that I’ve forgiven you, and that you don’t need someone to apologize in order to forgive somebody. And I figure that if Jesus could die so that all of my wrongs could be forgiven, I can certainly extend that same grace to you. I just wanted you to know that.”
Could you be that gracious?
Simon apologized, hugged her, and told her she’d been selected to advance.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” But he never told his followers to be door mats or lay down in the face of injustice.
How did Mandisa do it? How was she able to be so gracious to someone who had humiliated her on national TV, even as thousands on social media were urging her to retaliate?
The only way to forgive an enemy, without letting them walk all over you, is to know that you were once God’s enemy.
And to begin to grasp what it cost Jesus to forgive you.