Seeking forgiveness? Great! Granting forgiveness? Let me think about it!

 If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you. Anon. 

How we love to pray these words on Sunday: “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” 

And how we hate to forgive on Monday! 

I was chatting with one of HFP’s major donors. She was lamenting the fact that, in one of the multitude of outrageous political ads prior to the recent election, one candidate was being scorched for having committed an infraction 40 years ago! “Don’t they believe in forgiveness, in restoration, in healing,” she asked? 

The places where I see it the most are in courtrooms and in Parole Board hearings. Families, friends and loved ones of crime victims often cannot let go. There is, somehow, this perception that if the perpetrator can be kept in prison for the remainder of his or her life, or perhaps better yet, if the criminal can receive a death sentence, there will be closure. I can state, with no hesitation, life without parole and/or a death sentence will not bring closure! 

Recently the New York Times reported: When a jury declined last month to give Nikolas Cruz the death penalty for the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., family members of the victims expressed their anger and disappointment. 

That, even though there is no evidence that executions provide relief to victims’ families. In fact, research has shown that families often feel re-victimized when an execution does not bring about the closure they had hoped for. 

When a Michigan woman who committed an atrocious crime at the age of 16 was recently released, after serving 31 years, a family member of the victim said: “In no scenario could I ever see any kind of forgiveness. I don’t like to have hate in my heart, but I do for her. I don’t think there will be any time to forgive.” 

To which Lee Ingersoll, our highly experienced social worker son-in-law, responded: “You just sentenced yourself to life in prison!” 

Forgiveness is not a single act; it is a constant attitude. MLK

 


Comments

/svm said…
It seems that forgiveness is nothing more -- or less -- than giving up our own attitude and adopting Christ's instead.
MaryMargaret said…
Forgiveness is probably the single most difficult thing to give when someone is gravely injured by another's action. People forget in their inability to forgive that the gift of forgiveness is a two way street. When we forgive others it helps us far more than it helps the one forgiven. Sometimes we have to bestow forgiveness over and over again because we take it back. We have to keep trying over and over again. My pastor told me I shouldn't pray the sentence in the Lord's Prayer "forgive us out trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us" until I could say it and mean it. I couldn't expect God to forgive me if I couldn't forgive someone else. It took me 3 years to be able to pray that line in the Lord's Prayer. I always slow down and say that line with more heartfelt meaning since then. I so need God's forgiveness everyday. I must forgive to receive it. It's that simple and that hard all at the same time.

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