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 the Amish 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 Terri 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 on 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 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.
While the Amish realize that forgiving allows for peace, love, joy and all the good qualities that make life enjoyable, they also seem to understand that living in known danger can stop those qualities. More than likely, they would not have tried to prevent any possible consequences of the shooter had he not taken his own life. Some might have needed to practice what I’ve described as loving — and forgiving — from a distance. I also wonder if the Mr. Roberts taking his own life after the shooting is an example of what unforgiveness can lead to. When we don’t forgive, including ourselves, it can lead to such disharmony that it can be harmful to us and many others.
Today’s Assignment is to look for opportunities to practice forgiveness. As you practice forgiveness in the little grievances that come your way, you might discover that forgiveness comes easier when hailstorms of pain rain down upon you. Make forgiveness a daily practice.
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