Does forgiveness take away hurt’s sting? Not always!
We all remember the senseless slayings of the members of the bible study group in Mother Immanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We may remember even more the relatives of the survivors who forgave the young, misguided killer. Here are the words from two family members:
Nadine Collier daughter of Ethel Vance:
“I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never get to talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul. … You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. If God forgives you, I forgive you.”
Laurie Middleton, sister of DePayne Middleton Doctor:
“That was my sister, and I’d like to thank you on behalf of my family for not allowing hate to win. For me, I’m a work in progress. And I acknowledge that I am very angry. But one thing that DePayne always enjoined in our family … is she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.”
The words from these survivors did not let hatred block the beauty of the many memories and stories of their lost relatives. They did not let hatred for this flawed killer keep frozen such wonderful recollections cultivated by mountains of love and affection.
It takes courage and valor to display this depth of mercy and forgiveness even when it means countless years of carrying the sting that this wound created. Instead, they allowed their love for those gunned down to flood their hearts and souls as they faced the killer in the court room.
In their mind, it is easier to carry this sting than the cumbersome monster of hatred. They realized that hatred traumatizes. It roots us in the ground, immobilizing us. It gets us nowhere.
With hatred we must keep reminding ourselves who and why we hate while love simply surfaces spontaneously. Such as when we see the person we love, love simply bursts forth!
A sign on a neighborhood lawn reads: “Hate has no place in this home.” belongs in the home of every Christian who follows Christ. We need these words from Pope Francis written on our hearts “When a love is genuine, its power is able to face whatever might threaten it.”
May God live in our hearts for that is what it is made for.
-St. Francis de Sales
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Artwork: The Prodigal Son by Marc Chagall