“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Forgiveness is not so easy. It’s easier said than done. But once it’s done, forgiveness is transforming.
Citing the forgiveness statement of the victims of the recent mass shooting in South Carolina, I admire their courage to forgive. I let the news settle before I can face the horrific crime and focus instead on the family of victims’ impact statement.
Here is what they said reported by Washington Post.
“I forgive you. … If God forgives you, I forgive you.” Nadine Collier, daughter of victim Ethel Lance
“ … May God have mercy on you.” Felicia Sanders, mother of Tywanza Sanders
“… everyone’s plea for your soul, is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So hate won’t win.” Wanda Simmons, granddaughter of Daniel Simmons
“… we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.” Sister of DePayne Middleton Doctor
“I forgive him and my family forgives him. But we would like him to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that He can change him and change your ways, so no matter what happens to you, you’ll be okay.” Relative of Myra Thompson
A Canadian story of forgiveness reminds me of Amanda Lindhout. In 2008 as journalist in Somalia, captured and tortured for 15 months.
Amanda is another voice of the great act of forgiveness. She returned to Somalia to impart a message of forgiveness.
Her memoir “A House in the Sky” is an extraordinary narrative of forgiveness and spiritual triumph.
To withstand her anguish, she recited a catalog of the small gifts for which she was grateful: “my family at home, the oxygen in my lungs,” the fact that “Jamal set my food down on the floor instead of throwing it at me.” She practiced compassion for her captors even after they gang-raped her, an episode she recounts with characteristic restraint, rendering it all the more terrible for what is left unsaid: “Together, they crossed into a darker place, where there was no retrievable dignity for anybody. They became guilty, one the same as another. I bled not for hours or days but for weeks afterward.”
On a personal note on forgiveness, it is a great mystery hidden in these numbers.
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-35
The numbers 70 x 7 do not equal to 490 nor signify limitation in literal terms. It is a figure of totality or completely or beyond counting.
Why count how often you forgive?
People who are forgiving receive more grace and peace of mind. It is a grace to forgive and the ability to forgive over and over again.