STEP SEVEN CONTINUED: Choose to forgive those who hurt us in the name of religion.
Instruction: Make it a practice.
One of my favorite stories about the power of forgiveness comes from the 2006 Amish school shooting of ten Amish children. The mother of the shooter was devastated that her son, Charles Carl Roberts IV, had committed such heinous crimes. She felt that she would no longer be welcome in their small community, and she would have to move away. The Amish, and the rest of the world, surprised her by forgiving her son for his violent acts. Many of the Amish came together to reach out to the mother and father who raised him. In fact, the Amish came to Terri Roberts (mother of the shooter) and told her they didn’t want her to move away. The first people to greet her after the shooting were a mother and father who had lost two daughters because of Terri’s son. The kindness of the Amish was not wasted on Mrs. Roberts who not only stayed in the community but made it a point to visit the most severely wounded survivor of the shooting every Thursday for years.
We may wonder how the Amish were able to forgive so quickly and not seek revenge from the parents who raised the boy who killed five and injured five more. The answer I found was a simple one. The Amish were able to forgive, because they make forgiveness a practice—something they believe in deeply and practice daily. They have come to understand the destructive nature of withholding forgiveness and how resentment and thoughts of revenge eat at a person and causes nothing but inner pain, turmoil, and anguish. They understand that forgiving allows for peace and love to flow, whereas, refusing forgiveness blocks the flow of love, harmony, joy, and all the good qualities that make our lives enjoyable. They practice forgiveness and rise to the challenges of life with an understanding that all of life is spiritual and worthy of living no matter what circumstances befall us.
As we go about our lives today, let’s look for opportunities to practice forgiveness. As we practice forgiveness in the little grievances that come our way, we might discover that forgiveness comes easier when hailstorms of pain rain down upon us.
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