It’s seemingly become a trend in recent years for celebs to use their public platforms to project their faith and values. But Kathie Lee Gifford was doing it LONG before it was popular.
The TODAY show host isn’t the type to merely pop off a Bible verse on air or post an Instagram video of her worshiping — no, this woman lives the Christian life daily in all the most exemplary ways.
And forgiveness under the most difficult of circumstances appears to be her forte.
From her late husband’s infidelity to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault scandals, this unwavering woman of faith has continued to take a posture of mercy and grace that is rarely seen.
“I just want people to know I don’t judge them,” said Gifford of Weinstein and Cosby. “I don’t like what they do, but God knows their hearts and there’s hope for them. And you can’t call yourself a friend when, the first minute where there’s trouble, you run. That’s called a fair-weather friend … and that’s not a friend at all.”
“What we need now is forgiveness, and we need mercy for one another,” she added after the Matt Lauer scandal broke. “We don’t need taunts and we don’t need ugliness. We have enough of that in the world.”
But even more impressive is that Kathie Lee’s forgiveness extends beyond those that she may call a lover, friend, or colleague. The TV hostess showers her enemies in the same kind of grace. In fact, on the TODAY Show this week, she shared that Howard Stern had been a long-standing enemy who hated her for decades.
“Howard Stern had a feud with me going on 30 years,” said Gifford. “I never met him. I never listened to his show. He hated my guts for 30 years… Hated my husband, hated my children. Hated everything I stood for.”
Three decades is a pretty darn long time for someone to hold a one-sided grudge, but it wasn’t enough to make Kathie Lee bitter or resentful. And after three decades, it was once again her posture of love and kindness that shattered Stern’s heart of stone.
“One day, right here, I was up in the makeup room, and all of a sudden he’s here to announce ‘America’s Got Talent,’” recalled Gifford. “I just feel the Lord saying very clearly to me, ‘Go down and say hello to Howard.’ I’m standing right here … and I go, ‘Howard, Howard, I’m Kathie Lee. I thought it was time I say hello. I want to wish you the very best with your show.’ And I left.”
“He was really flabbergasted,” she explained.
But what’s even more phenomenal is the chain of events that transpired after their initial meeting.
Gifford’s small act ignited a wave of remorse from Stern, who instantly regretted all the hateful things he spewed about her and her family over the years
“There’s a message from him, a voicemail,” said Gifford, after their encounter.
“I was blown away and will you call me?” Stern left on the recording.
“He calls again during dinner, we had a half-hour conversation,” said the hostess.
‘Will you forgive me, Kathie, please?” Stern sincerely pleaded. “I’m doing some hard work on my life. I know I hurt you. I’m so sorry and I need to ask you to forgive me.’”
Though not negating the 30 years of cruel comments slung at her by Stern (including him calling her “the world’s dumbest person”), Gifford said she instead focused on congratulating him for taking the time to work on himself.
And the most amazing part?
She said she forgave him “30 years ago.”
…and that’s not all…
Gifford also told Stern she prays for him “every single day.”
WOW. At 365 days a year, we’re talking 10,950 days of prayer for a man who hated her to the core.
This woman officially took Matthew 5:43-44 to the NEXT level: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.'”
May Kathie Lee’s Christ-like example of love and forgiveness be a reminder to us all that we are called to love our enemies the same way we love our friends — for that is the love that softens hearts and saves souls. ??