Amish Grace–Quick to Forgive??

We read this book in August for our evening book club.  Initially we were going to have a typical Amish spread for dinner, but settled for some Lancaster County salads instead.  Growing up just 30 minutes from where the shootings took place, it was unnerving to read about many places that I knew associated with such brutal violence.  Yet, unlike I thought, the book does not focus on the events of the school shooting, but what takes place after it.

Forgiveness is something that was immediately extended to the family of the shooter by the Amish community.  While I was amazed to see the people move so quickly to forgive, I was also concerned to see that there was little time allowed to process the grief and trauma of the event.  Since the perpetrator had killed himself, forgiveness and grace were given to the family of the perpetrator.

Recently, I have done a bit of reading on forgiveness and the new way that it is being used in psychology.  A whole new therapy called forgiveness therapy is being practiced and helping victims to let go of their past and hurts (this is outside of a Christianity).  The truth is that not forgiving will only continue to hurt the victims and keep them from being able to move on.  Yet, forgiveness is a process and I fear that if people are forced to forgive too quickly and not allowed to walk through the pain and grieve, emotions will simply be ignored or suppressed causing long-term injury on many levels.  Too often, we as believers encourage people to move on, get over it, let go and let God.

I see forgiveness as a process, a gradual letting go of the pain, an acknowledgment that God is judge and choosing to leave the matter in his hands.  In a sense, forgiveness does come down to a choice as written by Robert Enright in his bestselling book, but the emotions involved with forgiveness cannot be turned on and off.  Every day, taking small steps to choose to forgive seems to be more realistic and healthy than expecting people to simply forget and forgive.  (In actuality, forgetting is not realistic and even God says that He chooses not to remember rather than say He will forget).

For those who are hurting and who are struggling with forgiveness, never give up.  Only God can give you the strength to let go.  Ultimately it will damage you if you are holding on to things, but take the time to grieve your loss and grieve what could have been.

Here is a great article that articulates what forgiveness and fake forgiveness look like :   The F Word: Forgiveness and it’s Imitations by David Augsberger.  There may be things you do not agree with in this article, but there are a lot of good things to ponder that can be very helpful.

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