Over the last few years – since the murder of my son (Sept. 2010) – I have, and so have my surviving children, been asked: “Have you forgiven the murderer?”
I was asked this, as I walked into church one morning, about a year after my 19-year-old son’s life and future was robbed from him. I was asked this about a year after my would-be daughter-in-law’s security, trust of people and love of her life were brutally taken from her. I was asked this about a year after I had to inform my daughters (and the rest of a very large family in two countries) that they too were robbed of Ethan.
I was dismayed by the question, I will admit.
My answer was, “No, I am just not that big of a person.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve thought about it — this thing called forgiveness. I have, over the many years I have been alive, but more intently over the last four years — thought about it a lot, at times. But I choose to not let it consume me.
Dave, one of my dear friends and a longtime member of the Christian Motorcycle Association (Ohio) counseled my (then) husband and me a couple of weeks after the day someone else changed our family’s lives. I will not ever forget it, the subject of hatred came up. My then-husband, whose anger was overflowing, brought it up. He asked, “Is it wrong to hate what that guy did to our boy?” (This was only about 16 days after our son’s murder.)
Anger flared in this CMA man, before he replied through clenched teeth, “No,” and he took a cleansing breath before saying, “it is God who is charged with unconditional love, not you. It is okay to hate the acts this guy has done.”
Now, I know that “Forgiveness” is talked about a lot in the bible… over 70 times. So I understand it is important. But I still struggle with forgiving the guy who did more than just take my son’s life. This is someone who blatantly and repeatedly chose, via free will, to break the 10 Commandments and more! This Orange Blob repeatedly choose behaviors that tromped all over the 10 Commandments – the likes of:
The 6th Commandment — Thou shall not murder.
Oops, he forgot that more than once, it seems.
The 9th Commandment –- Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Telling the cops “this young couple were here to rob me” … hummm proven not true.
The 10th Commandment — Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field… or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Hummm forcing yourself upon my son’s fiancé, setting out to defraud my son out of the 10 acres that you acted like you had some right to….
The 5th Commandment -– Thou shall honor your father and mother.
Wow… I don’t think any of these crimes honors anyone, least of all his folks.
Forgiveness, to me, seems to be intertwined with Respect and Love. In 1 Peter 2:17 it says: “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” The reality is I do my best to show respect to others. I really do. But I find that some people lose the respect I inherently give them due to their own actions. Hence I do not respect someone who chooses to exercise his free will to break the 10 Commandments repeatedly including going against the laws regarding the offense of incest and adultery that have been punishable by execution (The Levitical Code) for many, many years. And then again … what is the definition of the level of “proper respect” deserving to a reprobate like this?
Additionally, in 1 John 4:7 it says: “…let us love one another, for the love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” Okay, I love many and treat even strangers with loving kindness. But I know that this person (the Orange Blob) that others want me and my other children to forgive has broken so many of God’s laws that I struggle with going against the laws of the Lord. After all… why am I supposed to abide by these rules set out for all of us if others are not abiding? And why should I forgive those not living by the same rules?
After all this fella is one (Proverbs 28:13) “Who conceals his transgressions [and] will not prosper.” He was hiding my son’s body in a 55 gallon barrel. The Orange Blob only confessed what he had done (in part, believe you me, only in part), but only in hopes of not being put to death…. Well, mercy is not mine to give – I remind myself as I have trouble forgiving this serial kidnapper, serial rapist, serial incestuous creep, serial adulterer, serial murdering person who was born of God but chose a life filed with evil.
I know that I have promised to learn to not hate, as I have heard that hatred is like poison and can poison me from within. I accept that. To that end I have given up the hatred of the Orange Blob to God. It is not a burden I wish to carry and weigh myself down with. Especially because I will not let the Orange Blob rent that much space in my life. But I still hate the acts he perpetuated, which I worry means I haven’t given up the hatred, just done my best to relieve myself of the weight.
So back to the original question — “Do you forgive the Orange Blob for killing your son and the other things he has done that directly affect those in your life?” I would have to still say, “No.” But I do so knowing that as it is written in a multitude of spots in the bible, including, but not limited, to Acts 10:43 “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” And as I sit on bended knee I confess that my sins include not being able to forgive this serial kidnapper, serial rapist, and serial incestuous, serial adulterous, serial murdering person. And I have faith that God will still find me worthy to come home one day and see my son again.
Do you forgive? To what end?