Forgiveness and Murder



I remember the high school field trip to the Butler County Courthouse because I nearly fainted climbing the steps! I had just been to the doctor and he had taken a vial of blood for tests (back when doctors did their own sticks).

It wasn’t from lack of blood, that I nearly did the drop and roll in front of my friends, it was from fear. As I climbed the steps I was replaying the event in my mind–still being able to feel the needle, the stick, the suck of it… In fact, the only thing I do remember about that field trip was my nearly fainting and the replay of that injury going around and around in my head.

As I began to think about forgiveness, that was the scenario that came to mind. Giving blood really wasn’t a forgiveness issue, but there are some similarities. The same three things are common in our struggles for forgiveness.

  • Injury
  • Replaying the event
  • Suffering from replaying the event

Perhaps that’s why forgiveness is the big challenge of the 4th Step and the 10th Step.

In all these situations we need self-restraint, honest analysis of what is involved, a willingness to admit when the fault is ours, and an equal willingness to forgive when the fault is elsewhere. ~ Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 2011, p 91

When we react strongly to injury, we tend to replay the event in our heads. When it’s ‘no big deal’, we usually forget it (unlike my Lipstick Forgiveness). Usually, it’s the ‘big deals’ we struggle to forgive, not the small stuff.

How does someone forgive really big, life-altering attacks? I don’t know. I’ve had several ‘big deal’ events in my life, but compared to what some people suffer, I’m not qualified to comment. In fact, if it wasn’t in the Lord’s Prayer and other parts of the Bible, I simply wouldn’t believe all sins are forgivable. Clearly they are. Even sins like the concentration camps and the unspeakable horrors of watching your loved one die inch by inch or by execution-style mass murdering. I can’t speak to that, but here’s someone who does:

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” ~ Corrie Tenboom, The Hiding Place

The topic of extreme forgiveness also makes me think of Mary Johnson who befriended the man who murdered her only son and then invited him to come live next door to her. Not only that, but they speak to audiences together about the topic of forgiveness. Wow!

I don’t understand that kind of forgiveness. I just know that when God chooses to give us truth, we can trust Him to do what He asks of us. In this case, the truth is that we can forgive.

I’m back to the Lord’s Prayer. It’s a prayer that has been used in AA meetings around the world since the beginning of our recovery program. Clearly, Bill and the founders of AA found enough encouragement and truth in it that they built it into the tradition of AA meetings.

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”

PS: Forgiveness is a big part of the 12 Step program.