Real Love and Forgiveness
When is Forgiveness Impossible?
It’s a natural response for us humans to want to get back at someone who has hurt us or hurt someone we love. In our story, Miracle at Redimere House, Mettie has been very cruel to the other girls in the orphanage and no one wants her to stay. Felicity’s doll was just destroyed – the treasured and only possession she had from her parents. Her response to Mama Addie’s request to respond in kindness was an emphatic, “NEVER!”
We can all relate. It simply makes no sense to be kind to the one who just attacked you in some way. “I’ll get you for this!” is what we often think, whether that means an immediate physical response, making life miserable for them as often as possible, speaking evil of them to any we meet, never speaking to that person again, or just ending the relationship. We feel justified in our response.
What we fail to realize in those times is that by choosing not to forgive, we invite bitterness to take up residence in our lives. Far too often the one we intend to get back at suffers little. And even if they do, am I at peace with myself? Am I a better person now? Many times it’s we who suffer the most. Bitterness is like a worm that continually eats away at us, manifesting itself in numerous ways as we dwell on our hurt and sink deeper into the swamp of hatred and anger. It affects our other relationships, our health, our sleep, our work. We can become so absorbed in our pain and anger that we become self-focused, inattentive to those we love and rather than accomplishing our goal of making the other person’s life miserable, all we have succeeded in doing is making our own life miserable along with those around us.
God does not tell us to forgive others because it’s easy or because they deserve it. He tells us to forgive for one reason: He has forgiven us. We are all guilty to varying degrees of wrong-doing. Some of those doings were unintentional, but many were simply selfish actions with the intention of hurting another. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners….Once we were God’s enemies. But we have been brought back to him because his Son has died for us.” (Romans 5)
Forgiveness restores relationships. It has immense power to change lives, both now and for eternity.
Mary’s only son Laramiun was murdered when he was 16. She lived with anger and hatred for twelve years toward Oshea, his killer. She always wondered why he had killed him so twelve years later she decided to find the answer by visiting him in prison. Here is a portion of a conversation between Mary and Oshea which took place a number of years after that visit in which they were recalling their first encounter [emphasis added]:
Mary: After you left, I said, “I just hugged the man who murdered my son.” And that’s when I began to feel this movement in my feet. It moved up my legs and it just moved up my body. When I felt it leave me, I instantly knew that all that anger and hatred and animosity I had in my heart for you for twelve years was over. I had totally forgiven you.
Oshea: Being incarcerated for so long, you tend to get detached from real love from people. Sometimes I still don’t know how to take receiving forgiveness from you. How do you forgive someone who has taken your only child’s life? To know that I robbed you of that, and for you to forgive me… you can’t really put it into words.
Mary: You know, I didn’t see Laramiun graduate, but you’re going to college, and I’ll be able to see you graduate. I didn’t see him get married. But hopefully, one day I’ll be able to experience that with you. Our relationship is beyond belief.
Oshea: I agree. I love you, lady.
Mary: I love you too, son.
Incredible story! What a testimony to the power forgiveness has to release the offended and the offender from the bondage in which unforgiveness imprisons all its victims. Mary and Oshea enjoy a depth of relationship that few of us will ever understand – all because she chose to initiate forgiveness.
That same depth of relationship between God and us is available when we receive the forgiveness God offers in Jesus. Through the death of Christ, we can receive a pardon if we admit our guilt, accept his offer of forgiveness by believing He gave His life as payment for our sin, and choose to follow His truths revealed to us in the bible. It brings a freedom that Oshea is intimately acquainted with – one that has changed his life and caused him to live a life devoted to the one who extended the gift of kindness. That is what Real Love will do.
You can read the full conversation between Mary and Oshea HERE.
When is forgiveness impossible?
When we choose to make it impossible. Extending forgiveness does not mean removing punishment. Oshea had already been imprisoned for 12 years before Mary forgave. And even then, that did not mean he was released. He had to do his time. Forgiveness is a mindset that says, “I am not going to harbor thoughts of retaliation and devise ways to get them back.” Our minds cannot entertain vengeful thoughts and experience peace at the same time anymore than it can tell the legs to run and walk at the same time. We must choose. Mary made her choice. And when she did, it opened the door to a relationship that has been so unique, so healing and loving that we can only wonder if she would have come close to anything like it with her own son.
Practice forgiveness in your home. It will prepare your children for life in the world, allow them to escape bitterness, and enjoy deep relationships with others. It will draw you closer to your children as well and them closer to you. It will bring a spirit of peace into your home and make it the place where the whole family truly wants be.
“Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive one another, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.” Ephesians 4:32
Emeth is committed to training students in character by focusing on the truth God has revealed in His Word, the bible. Love, kindness, commitment, discipline, leadership – these are some of the qualities we focus on through the year and build into our athletes through our structured character training curriculum. They are qualities that will make students successful not only in the gym, but also throughout their lives! Visit our character training page to listen to our current story on kindness and see our CT curriculum.