You’ve probably heard the tragic story of Botham Jean, an African American man who was sitting in his own apartment, eating ice cream and watching TV when a Dallas police officer shot and killed him. 

Amber Guyger, who claims she entered the wrong apartment by accident, believed an intruder was in her home and therefore fired her weapon. And now she’s headed to prison to serve a 10-year sentence.

It’s a story of gun violence. It’s a story of an innocent life lost. It’s a story of a white cop shooting an unarmed black man.

But, as of yesterday, it’s also a story of forgiveness.

Guyger was found guilty of murder by a jury of her peers, and as a result, was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison. But what happened next shocked the courtroom—and the world—as Botham Jean’s brother did the unexpected.

On the witness stand, 18-year-old Brandt Jean spoke directly to the woman who shot and killed his brother. “I don’t want to say twice or for the hundredth time, what you’ve, or how much you’ve taken from us,” he said, slowly, and deliberately. “I think you know that.”

But his next few statements are where the story changes. 

“If you truly are sorry— know I can speak for myself—I, I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you. I love you just like anyone else. I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die, just like my brother did. I personally want the best for you.”

Jean then turned to District Judge Tammy Kemp and asked, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug, please?”

And after Judge Kemp said yes, he did just that.

A man whose brother—known as a top student, a devout Christian, and a loving family member affectionately called “Bo” was shot and killed while sitting on his own couch—was led by faith to say the words “I forgive you”.

They’re words that escape so many of us on our most painful days. But they’re also words that heal broken hearts, help release some of the hurt, and make room for love to seep back in through the cracks. 

Brandt Jean knows the power of that Christ-like forgiveness. 

“What he did today, was remarkable, and he did it all on his own,” Brandt and Botham Jean’s mother Allison said. “What Brandt did was to cleanse his heart towards Amber.” 

And the story doesn’t end there. Judge Kemp was so moved by Brandt Jean’s gesture that she, too, offered some comfort to Amber Guyger as she received her guilty verdict and 10-year prison sentence. 

With tears in her own eyes, Judge Kemp also embraced Amber Guyger, and handed her a Bible.

“Read this,” Judge Kemp suggested, as well as offering this advice: “Forgive yourself.”

Not everyone has come to this place of peace, which is expected, as that timeline is unique to each individual person. Jean’s mother Allison isn’t quite ready to say she forgives as her son Brandt did. Others feel Guyger’s sentence was too lenient. 

Either way, Guyger will have many years to reflect on what happened inside that apartment—and the grace extended to her in the courtroom by a grieving teenager; she will be eligible for parole in five years.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson is a freelance writer who is known on social media as The 21st Century SAHM. She is an assistant editor at Sammiches and Psych Meds, staff writer and social media manager for Scary Mommy, and is the author of I Brushed My Hair Today, A Mom Journal for Mostly Together Moms. Follow Karen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/21stcenturysahm/, Twitter https://twitter.com/21stcenturysahm , and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/the21stcenturysahm/

So God Made a Sunday School Teacher

In: Faith, Living
Woman sitting at table surrounded by kids in Sunday school class, color photo

God looked around at all He had created, and He knew He would need someone to teach His children. So God made a Sunday school teacher. God knew He needed someone with a heart and desire to teach children God’s word. God knew the children would act up and made Sunday school teachers with patience and grace to guide them when they step out of line in class. He also made Sunday school teachers with a touch of discretion to know when the stories of a child may be real or imagined. God knew this person would need to be...

Keep Reading

But God, I Can’t Forgive That

In: Faith, Marriage
Woman holding arms and walking by water

Surrender is scary. Giving in feels like defeat. Even when I know it’s the right thing, yielding everything to God is scary. It also feels impossible. The weight of all I’m thinking and feeling is just so dang big and ugly. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I cling so tightly to my fear I don’t even recognize it for what it is. Bondage. Oppression. Lack of trust. Oh, and then there’s that other thing—pride. Pride keeps me from seeing straight, and it twists all of my perceptions. It makes asking for help so difficult that I forget that...

Keep Reading

Dear Dad, I Pray for Our Healing

In: Faith, Grief, Grown Children
Back shot of woman on bench alone

You are on my mind today. But that’s not unusual. It’s crazy how after 13 years, it doesn’t feel that long since I last saw you. It’s also crazy that I spend far less time thinking about that final day and how awful it was and spend the majority of the time replaying the good memories from all the years before it. But even in the comfort of remembering, I know I made the right decision. Even now, 13 years later, the mix of happy times with the most confusing and painful moments leaves me grasping for answers I have...

Keep Reading

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

God Has You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman hugging herself while looking to the side

Holding tight to the cold, sterile rail of the narrow, rollaway ER bed, I hovered helplessly over my oldest daughter. My anxious eyes bounced from her now steadying breaths to the varying lines and tones of the monitor overhead. Audible reminders of her life that may have just been spared. For 14 years, we’d been told anaphylaxis was possible if she ingested peanuts. But it wasn’t until this recent late autumn evening we would experience the fear and frenzy of our apparent new reality. My frantic heart hadn’t stopped racing from the very moment she struggled to catch a breath....

Keep Reading

My Husband Having a Stroke at 30 Wasn’t in Our Plans

In: Faith, Living
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control. In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing...

Keep Reading

She Left Him on Valentine’s Day

In: Faith, Marriage
Husband kissing wife on cheek, color photo

“Can you believe that?” Those were the dreaded knife-cutting whispers I heard from across the table. I sunk deeper into my chair. My hopes fell as everyone would forever remember that I had left my fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Maybe one day it would just dissipate like the dream wedding I had planned or the canceled plane tickets for the Hawaiian honeymoon. Some bridesmaids and guests had already booked plane tickets. It was my own nightmare that kept replaying in my head over and over again. I had messed up. Big time. To be honest, if it made any difference,...

Keep Reading

God was In the Room for Our Daughter’s Open Heart Surgery

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child's hand with IV

I’ve had a strong faith for as long as I can remember, but I always felt bad that I never had a “testimony.” I had never gone through something that made me sit back and say, “Wow, God is real, He is here.” I have always felt it to my core, but no moment had ever stopped me dead in my tracks to where there was no denying that it was God. And then, that moment happened to me on December 5. After five months of fervently praying for a miracle for our daughter, the day came for her heart...

Keep Reading

A Benediction for the Worn Out Mother

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman leaning against kitchen counter, black-and-white photo

Blessed are you, Father, for bestowing upon me the honor of motherhood. For allowing me to experience the deep joy of bringing forth life—a joy I often take for granted and instead choose to begrudge. My children’s cries and demands have worn me down. I do not recognize myself. I selfishly long for the old me. My thoughts are an intangible mess of never-ending tasks, self-criticism, and comparison to those around me. RELATED: God Sees You, Weary Mama But Your word says you are near to the broken-hearted and downtrodden. You do not forget the cause of the tired and the...

Keep Reading

God Doesn’t Forget You When You’re Lost and Unsure

In: Faith, Living
Woman looking into camera, color photo

I’ve been wandering around feeling lost for over a year. Wondering where I’m going, what I’m supposed to be doing. Nothing seems to make sense. I felt purposeless. I felt stuck. I questioned everything: my faith, my marriage, my career—if it could be questioned, I doubted it. And I was completely clueless how to fix the funk. For over a year, I’ve been in the wilderness. I’ve wanted to find my way, but every path seemed like another dead end. The wilderness. I’ve been residing there. Not feeling fed. Not feeling heard. Not feeling seen. Struggling to find a purpose....

Keep Reading