Monday, June 29, 2015

The power of forgiveness

As we continue to sort through details of the recent tragic event in Charleston, S.C., when nine people were murdered in their church after sitting for an hour in Bible study and prayer with the alleged killer, I am in awe of the families of the victims and their ability to forgive.

Bethane Middleton-Brown, sister of one of the victims, said she acknowledges her anger but that her sister "taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating."

That's powerful stuff, isn't it? It's also realistic—anger and forgiveness both. It takes incredible strength to love and forgive in the midst of such horrific hatred and tragedy. Those who forgive, however, also must experience the freedom that comes from doing so. They're losing the shackles of anger and hatred that could easily have held them captive for years had they chosen to nurture those feelings. Rather, they are choosing to forgive and to move forward in the freedom of love rather than hate.

As one news article put it, "The killer was welcomed by the ones he murdered, and then forgiven by the people he deeply harmed."

I always wonder whether I would be able to do that if I faced such a tragedy. Don't you? Perhaps it's good to practice love and forgiveness in all situations, starting right now. I need to ask myself whether there are people I haven't yet forgiven for some real or perceived transgression. If I am unable to forgive for the smaller things, how would I ever hope to do so for such a tragedy as this? How about you?

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