When Charles Roberts gunned down five girls within an Amish school, the nation was horrified. Once the Amish community lined up to forgive him and his family, the nation was stunned. How could the household and friends of the dead possibly forgive a person who killed five innocent children in cold blood? How could they honor the memories of the beautiful little girls after forgiving the man who sent them for their death? How could families take a seat to meals three times per day, considering the empty place at the table, and still forgive the man who took away a beloved child and sister?
The solution is based on an essential truth about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about letting someone “get by” with evil deeds. Forgiveness is approximately redeeming relationships by building them on truth.
Some people commented on the Amish willingness to forgive by noting that the killer had never expressed any remorse. The note he left behind only clouded attempts to comprehend his actions. It didn’t include anything remotely like remorse. The killer’s final act was to kill himself, destroying any hope that he might later express remorse. Many individuals felt that Charles Roberts didn’t deserve forgiveness, and most especially, he didn’t deserve forgiveness from the parents of girls he killed.
When Jesus taught about forgiveness, he never stated that forgiveness was to be determined by remorse. He taught us to pray saying, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive people who trespass against us.” There’s nothing because prayer that suggests we ought to wait until wrongdoers say “I’m sorry.” A few of the those who hurt us never will say that they are sorry. They may not really feel they have done anything wrong a course in miracles podcast. Should they do sense any error on their part, they might continue steadily to justify their behavior in any number of creative ways, always finding some solution to excuse themselves from any need to apologize. If we only forgive people who apologize first, we may not forgive many people.
The Amish recognized the real problem that would arise should they didn’t forgive the murderer of these children. They knew that the painful wounds in their hearts where their children were ripped out of these lives would fester and spread if not healed by forgiveness. We often believe that forgiveness is a gift to the main one who behaved badly, but the folks who are harmed require it just as much. The myths surrounding the Hatfields and the McCoys or Romeo and Juliet are made on truth we can observe every day. The Balkan peninsula is becoming iconic because of its fixation on wrongs perpetrated more than 100 years in the past. Unwillingness to forgive eventually transforms into a dangerous force that can’t be subdued minus the act of forgiveness.
The Amish quickly responded for their tragedy by embracing the household of the murderer in their forgiveness, because they practice forgiveness in their daily lives. It is hard to forgive, and just as weight-bearing exercise allows an advancement of use ever heavier weights, practicing forgiveness in small things prepares an individual to forgive in large things. When this tragedy struck, the Amish already knew which they had a need to forgive the killer and his family. They recognized that there could be no healthy relationship involving the Amish and the household of the killer if this disgraceful behavior were allowed to create barriers between them. The Amish burst through the barriers of shame and fear and pain with forgiveness modeled on the grace of God toward sinners. They didn’t forgive the killer and his family out of a need certainly to hide the shameful act; they achieved it in order to cope with the shameful act.
Forgiveness is about coping with reality and accepting truth. The Amish didn’t try to tell anyone who what Charles Roberts did was “okay.” They acknowledged the horror of his behavior and chose to forgive in order to bring that horrible event in to the light of God’s love and grace. By forgiving the killer and his family, they opened themselves to God’s work of love in their hearts, healing their memories, strengthening them to get through every day, giving them a cure for another in time and eternity that was not doomed to despair by the poisonous mixture of grief and vengeance. Likewise, while the Roberts family received forgiveness, they, too, were permitted to manage reality. They did not need to attempt to hide themselves from the vengeful stares and ostracism of the Amish. They did not need to attempt to justify what Charles did or even to won’t speak of him lest someone remember what he did. The forgiveness of the Amish plainly uncovered the horrible truth of the horrible act and prevented it from destroying either the Amish or the family.
Forgiveness is approximately doing away with victims. Five girls died, and numerous others were injured, some permanently. In a Balkan mentality, this event could be mourned and memorialized for generations to come. The families of the victims would go through the group of the perpetrator for opportunities to repay wounds with wounds. The transactions of vengeance would continue for more than 100 years until nobody really knew any longer what it was all about. It’d simply be “us” against “them.”
This can be a picture of our human predicament. Plenty of our behavior is colored by somebody’s unwillingness to forgive. Too a number of our relationships are made on the shoddy foundation of lies – the unwillingness to manage the facts and accept the facts and love one another in the light of truth. It is very difficult to forgive, because it’s so very hard to manage the truth. We have to overcome that problem.