Jason Romano's Story of Forgiveness Hits Close to Home
Updated: Jan 6
One of the cast members in our documentary, For a Purpose, told me a year ago that the project I was embarking on would probably take me on a path that would be different than I was expecting. He was certainly right.
I just returned home from Connecticut where I interviewed Jason Romano. Host of Sports Spectrum’s Podcast and Emmy-Award winning ESPN producer, Jason has a powerful testimony of forgiveness and a life transformed by Christ after growing up with an alcoholic father. He wrote about this journey in his book, Live to Forgive.
When I first came across Jason’s book, I found myself thinking about the story of Cinderella. More specifically, about verbal abuse and its effects. I pondered the suffering she must have experienced as a result of her stepmother’s and stepsisters’ incessant, harmful words. I never really considered how I would have responded to the verbal abuse that she endured for years. My take-away had been a lighter, simpler theme of “good triumphs over evil.”
Childhood verbal abuse and its aftermath are darker, deeper places Disney did not go. I was left with many difficult questions. Would I have become a bitter, resentful person? Would the pain have crippled me? How, after such abuse, did Cinderella still arrive at her happily-ever-after? It bothered me that I had never given much thought to the classic story from that perspective.
I also thought of my father, who had endured childhood verbal abuse from his own father. It wasn’t something he spoke about much, but when it did come up, he shared some of the difficult moments. I could tell the pain ran deep. In my 20’s, I was with my dad in the car when he took me on a short detour to my grandfather’s gravesite. I can’t remember why he did that, but I’ll never forget what he said when we pulled up to it. We didn’t get out of the car. He just looked intently at the grave marker and said, “You know, my father never told me that he loved me.” I didn’t know what to do with that and I never forgot it.
In early October 2021, while researching for this film, I called my dad to ask him about Jason’s book. I asked him how bad he would say the suffering of his verbal abuse was for him. Once again, I was surprised to hear him describe how horrible it was. In his opinion, it was worse than many other types of physical suffering. I didn’t expect that. I asked him when he had been able to forgive his dad. He said it had only been 10 years since he forgave his dad, when he was in his 60’s. This was another shock for me, considering his deep faith and personal relationship with the Lord. My father died just weeks after we had that conversation. I will always cherish it. How I wish I could have continued the conversation, but God had other plans.
My mother later reminded me how big of a change had occurred in him once he forgave his father. My father had a growing relationship with Christ ever since I can remember, but that relationship flourished once he was able to forgive his dad. I can’t help but think that my dad could have found forgiveness for his father sooner if he had been able to be more open and share his story with others more freely. Sharing his experience would have helped him as well as others, I believe, to find wholeness. Knowing these things about him has helped and encouraged me in many ways. It has also helped me understand him better.
This intersection of forgiveness and flourishing is where God does incredible things that we can’t do on our own. The more opportunities we have to see how God has worked in other people’s lives, the more miracles take place in our own hearts. Then God uses us to help and encourage others. This is the beauty and the power of community.
I am learning that the more we open up about our suffering and the more we learn how to lament and listen, the more we become instruments the Lord uses to do His work. God is transforming lives and working incredible miracles in people’s hearts and that’s what this documentary is all about.
Please be in prayer for us as we continue with the production of this film. Please continue to share this important project with others. Our financial needs are great as we move along, so I would appreciate your prayers for that as well.
Jason’s book, Live to Forgive, is available on Amazon.