My Bible study leader, Don, brought up Charles Roberts and his actions at an Amish School in Pennsylvania in 2006. As he discussed the path that young man took and the subsequent forgiveness and compassion the Amish expressed towards him and his family, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Tears began to well in my eyes. I did not realize anything was left but there is.
I've read some of the unforgiving comments about George Sodini. Forgiveness is very hard to extend to someone who commits such a heinous act. Yet, it is the very thing our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to do, which was the intent of Don's mentioning the young Mr. Roberts and his tragic path. The Amish forgave him and supported his family financially. How many times are we to forgive those who do wrong? Seventy times seven according to Jesus in Matthew 18:22. I've heard pastors say this is not a literal number but illustrates an unlimited number of times. I believe it is allegorical.
How many times do we suffer through the same injustices before we tire of them completely and get short or worse to make our antagonist, teaser, or pest stop? Jesus Christ paid for all sins on the cross through spiritual death or separation from God the Father. All sins includes the ones committed repeatedly over the course of our lives, all of our lives, from anger to xenophobia. My finite mind cannot comprehend that but I would have to categorize that as an infinite number of forgivenesses. Do I have that ability? Not in my humanity. I hope to have more grace in my spiritual walk with God. Lord knows I've been presented with plenty of practice. I appreciate those who have extended forgiveness to me through their grace.
I've had a lot of emotions about George's path over the last couple of years. Some emotions are conflicting because I feel relief that he didn't murder me and guilt because he didn't murder me. I felt those today as well as sadness and grief. I didn't realize those emotions were still in my soul. Perhaps had Don discussed Charles Roberts less I wouldn't have felt anything. The longer he talked the more old memories stirred thus the emotions.
Some of Don's points made me want to comment but I didn't. Some things I've read about George make me want to comment but I don't.
But, there is one point I would like to clear up about Tetelestai Church and George's brief banishment. He was asked to not come to church at my request to the Deacon's. George needed to cool off and I thought being banished from church for a time would help him understand how badly he had breached my boundaries. It was never meant to be a permanent exile but a time long enough for him to rethink his actions and cool off. After a few months of exile, George returned.
We never spoke again, though. Because of George's actions, a friendship ended. I hold George responsible for that because I had advised him many times, since 1999, to seek professional help, which he never sought. He needed it.
Perhaps had I stopped attending church for a few months George would have pursued a different path. We will never know. If I had known how mentally disturbed George was and that continued church attendance would have helped him, I would have gladly stopped for awhile and gone elsewhere. Ultimately, with my knowledge of George, I surmise neither would have changed his path. We will never know.
I hold no animosity towards George in spite of my emotions and his treatment of me several years ago. He was a tormented soul and his anguish was evident. Being unforgiving towards him would be futile and wrong of me regardless of lingering emotions. I've been forgiven of much through Christ's work on the cross. I understand forgiveness. Christ paid for my sins on the cross and he paid for George's sins on the cross.
Christ forgave and paid "seventy times seven."