Present Tense

On Forgiving….

Here’s the thing about forgiveness and compassion.

The more I read about the kid who murdered 17 people in Florida last week, the more it breaks my heart.

The whole situation is so incredibly devastating, but to read about a kid…yes a kid…a human…not a ‘monster’ or a ‘madman’, but a kid who had obviously had a difficult life and long standing mental/anger/anti-social problems doesn’t make me angry.

It makes me sad. For him, for his family; obviously for his victims and the entire community who will never fully recover.

He was not getting the help that he needed, his mother died and left him and his younger brother with no guidance, no place to go.

He was broken.

Now, here is the hard part: Forgiveness and compassion.

Remember when Dylan Roof, murdered all of those people in the church in South Carolina? And several of the family members told him, within days of this horrible crime, that they forgave him; some even offered love, based on their religious beliefs.

I was amazed by that reaction. Amazed. Heartened. Inspired.

BUT, just because we forgive or have compassion or love for someone who has done something HORRIBLE, does NOT mean that they avoid the consequences.

My husband and I have this conversation a lot; the whole concept of compassion and grace, usually when I’m complaining about something horrible that a politician did:). He will say “But, we have to forgive their bad behavior because we’re all flawed”. Forgive, but hold accountable.

I actually found myself having to ‘walk the walk’ almost two years ago when a FedEx driver hit and killed my dog Ember in our driveway. He was driving too fast, he knew our dogs and we were devastated.

I looked him in the eye a week later and told him that I forgave him and was sorry for the pain that he was in. I know that both of our hearts were broken. It doesn’t go away, but it lifted just a tiny bit of the burden we were both struggling with.

Just because we feel badly or our heart is broken over the challenges or illness that drove this kid in Florida to murder 17 people, does NOT mean that we as a society, don’t require consequences for his actions.

We can do both. It’s sort of along the lines of ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, which I’ve always thought was such a stupid premise. But, I’m starting to get it; that concept is sinking in.

So, here is the bottom line concept: We CAN judge and we can forgive. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

And in fact, in order for us to function, we need to tie those two together.

This is basically what all religions and spiritual ideals teach us. Love our neighbors/our fellow humans/; even those who are flawed and broken. BUT, do not let them off the hook for their actions.

This is hard….living and practicing grace is probably one of the most difficult things we will ever do….

February 26, 2018 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. I think you have the right concept. Thanks for continuing to share your wisdom with the community. Coincidentally, our Pastor recently preached on the same subject, and said that it is our duty to have compassion and forgiveness in our hearts.

    Comment by Alan R Ochsenbein | February 26, 2018 | Reply

  2. I am not quite there yet, but you have inspired me. In the middle of a divorce with a man who is now the meanest person I have ever known, but used to be the nicest man I ever knew. I need time to heal, I feel pretty beat up emotionally. I know I made the right decision and my life will be better. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Kathy Graybill | February 26, 2018 | Reply

  3. Thank you Jane – finally someone thinking/saying what I have been afraid to say. I appreciate your bravery!

    Comment by Lisa Shettler | March 16, 2018 | Reply


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