When Charles Roberts gunned down five girls within an Amish school, the nation was horrified. When the Amish community lined around 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 those beautiful little girls after forgiving the person who sent them to their death? How could families take a seat to meals three times each day, taking a look at the empty place at the table, and still forgive the person who took away a beloved child and sister?
The answer is based on an important truth about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about letting someone “make do” with evil deeds. Forgiveness is about 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 out only clouded attempts to know his actions. It did not include anything remotely like remorse. The killer’s final act was to kill himself, destroying any hope he might later express remorse. Lots of people felt that Charles Roberts did not deserve forgiveness, and most especially, he did not deserve forgiveness from the parents of the girls he killed.
When Jesus taught about forgiveness, he never said that forgiveness was to be dependent on remorse. He taught us to pray saying, “Forgive us our trespasses, once we forgive those that trespass against us.” There is nothing for the reason that prayer that suggests we ought to hold back until wrongdoers say “I’m sorry.” A few of the those who hurt us never will say that they’re sorry. a course in miracles podcasts They might not even feel they’ve done anything wrong. If they do sense any error on the part, they may continue to justify their behavior in numerous creative ways, always finding some method to excuse themselves from any need certainly to apologize. If we simply forgive those that apologize first, we would not forgive many people.
The Amish recognized the real problem that will arise should they did not forgive the murderer of their children. They knew that the painful wounds within their hearts where their children were ripped out of their lives would fester and spread if not healed by forgiveness. We often believe that forgiveness is just a gift to usually the one who behaved badly, however the individuals who are harmed require it just as much. The myths surrounding the Hatfields and the McCoys or Romeo and Juliet are built on truth we can observe every day. The Balkan peninsula is now iconic because of its fixation on wrongs perpetrated centuries in the past. Unwillingness to forgive eventually transforms into a dangerous force that can’t be subdued with no act of forgiveness.
The Amish quickly responded to their tragedy by embracing the household of the murderer within their forgiveness, simply because they practice forgiveness within their daily lives. It’s hard to forgive, and just as weight-bearing exercise allows a development of assist ever heavier weights, practicing forgiveness in small things prepares an individual to forgive in large things. When this tragedy struck, the Amish already knew that they needed seriously to forgive the killer and his family. They recognized that there may be no healthy relationship involving the Amish and the household of the killer if this disgraceful behavior were allowed to build 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 did it in order to handle the shameful act.
Forgiveness is focused on coping with reality and accepting truth. The Amish did not try to share with anyone who what Charles Roberts did was “okay.” They acknowledged the horror of his behavior and thought we would 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 within their hearts, healing their memories, strengthening them to get through daily, providing them with hope for the next in time and eternity which was not doomed to despair by the poisonous mixture of grief and vengeance. Likewise, because the Roberts family received forgiveness, they, too, were permitted to deal with reality. They did not need to try to hide themselves from the vengeful stares and ostracism of the Amish. They did not need to try to justify what Charles did or even to will not speak of him lest someone remember what he did. The forgiveness of the Amish plainly uncovered the horrible truth with this horrible act and prevented it from destroying either the Amish or the family.
Forgiveness is about eliminating victims. Five girls died, and many others were injured, some permanently. In a Balkan mentality, this event would be mourned and memorialized for generations to come. The families of the victims would consider the group of the perpetrator for opportunities to repay wounds with wounds. The transactions of vengeance would continue for centuries until nobody really knew anymore what it was all about. It would simply be “us” against “them.”
This can be a picture of our human predicament. Lots of our behavior is colored by somebody’s unwillingness to forgive. Too many of our relationships are built on the shoddy foundation of lies – the unwillingness to manage the facts and accept the facts and love each other in the light of truth. It’s very hard to forgive, because it’s so difficult to deal with the truth. We need to overcome that problem.